Tag Archives: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Restoring and Documenting Two Mulqueen Grave Monuments

On a recent trip to St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Askeaton, Wisconsin, we created a crayon rubbing of the headstone of family patriarch Daniel Mulqueen, and did a thorough cleaning of the lichen-infested monument. Both are important efforts to document and preserve family history.

Daniel Mulqueen (listed as McQueen on the stone) died on March 30, 1893. In the nearly 125 years since, his cemetery marker has become badly weathered by countless storms, wind, rain, snow, temperature extremes and environmental pollutants. And of course lichens, black mold and other biological growths that eat away at the surface.

Back in May, I traveled to Brown County, Wisconsin, with my mother’s sister, my Aunt Ruth (Mulqueen) McShane. One of our goals for the trip was to document the monument. So before we slopped everything up with water and anti-biologic chemicals, we decided to make a rubbing of the stone face. This process involves placing special paper over a section of the monument, then rubbing a hockey-puck-shape crayon over the surface, The result is a negative image of the writing on the monument. It read:

Daniel McQueen
Died
March 30, 1893
AGED
74 Years
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him

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The rubbing brought out details that were hard to see with the naked eye, including the Eternal Rest prayer at the bottom.

Once the rubbing paper was safely rolled up and placed in its protective tube, we set to cleaning the stone. It had a heavy covering of growths. Many people don’t realize that lichens and other growths are very destructive. Their roots penetrate into porous surfaces, causing cracks, pitting and other damage. Great care must be taken in cleaning, however, so as not to inflict more damage.

We used a special chemical agent called D/2, available from cemetery supply companies. It is a safe chemical; in fact the only one approved for use at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. We spent more than an hour spraying, gently scrubbing with a brush and scraping with a plastic blade.

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Chemical treatment causes a temporary coloration of the stone.

The chemical reaction with the growths caused the stone to turn orange. It is best to use a garden hose to rinse stones being treated, but we had no access to water. We had to settle for large spray bottles filled across the road at the church. The chemicals continue to work on the growths for weeks and months after treatment. We will have to wait for a return visit to fully gauge our efforts. A second treatment might be needed to make Daniel’s monument white and growth-free.

We repeated our two-stage effort on the nearby marker of Patrick McQueen (Mulqueen), which had moderate lichen growth that made the face very had to read. I suspect Patrick (1815-1874) is the older brother of Daniel Mulqueen, but so far I have no documentary evidence of it. Both men were among the settlers who founded St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Askeaton.

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Ruth (Mulqueen) McShane makes a rubbing of the lettering and art work on the monument of Patrick and Margaret Mulqueen at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Askeaton.

Aunt Ruth made a rubbing of the Patrick McQueen stone, which had beautiful shamrock carvings at the upper corners. Treating the stone face with D/2 removed all the growths and made the lettering much easier to read. We discovered a cracked headstone laying flat on the ground, just behind the Patrick McQueen marker. We cleaned the mud and debris from the surface. It appeared this was a marker for one of Patrick and Margaret (Hart) Mulqueen’s children. More research is needed to determine to whom the stone belongs and if he/she is buried behind the family marker.

Mystery in Askeaton: Where are the Mulqueens Buried?

It is indeed a sad situation to be buried in an unmarked grave, seemingly forgotten by the world. Worse yet, to have no one document the burial, or have the records lost or destroyed. That is the apparent reality for five members of the Daniel Mulqueen family of Askeaton, Wisconsin. This includes Bridget Elizabeth (Mulqueen) Chase, the mother of Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965).

We know the family patriarch, Daniel, is buried at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Askeaton. We also have every reason to believe these five Mulqueens are buried in the same cemetery:

  • Mary (Corcoran) Mulqueen (1827-1913), wife of Daniel
  • Daughter Bridget Elizabeth (Mulqueen) Chase (1866-1897)
  • Son Thomas Mulqueen (1855-1913)
  • Son James Mulqueen (1853-1917)
  • Son Daniel Mulqueen Jr. (1865-1926)

Newspaper obituaries either directly state or strongly suggest these Mulqueens are indeed buried in the parish cemetery. Yet the only monument is for the father, Daniel, who died in March 1893. Worse yet, there are no cemetery records for the four siblings and their mother. A recent site inspection confirmed the situation, and deepened the mystery.

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The St. Patrick’s cemetery map does not include burial information for most of the Daniel Mulqueen family.

Every cemetery has unmarked graves. Sometimes, families did not have funds to create a headstone. Some burials were marked by wooden crosses or other temporary markers that were destroyed by the passage of time. Small footstones could be swallowed by the earth, lying unnoticed just beneath the surface. Records were often nothing more than index cards. Over more than a century, these records could be lost, misfiled or destroyed by fire.

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The monument for Daniel Mulqueen (spelled McQueen on the marker) includes no  information on his wife or children.

The lot maps for St. Patrick’s cemetery clearly show the plot for Daniel Mulqueen, along the western property line in the oldest section of the cemetery. Underneath his name are the names Mary and Mike. Mary is Daniel’s wife. He had a son named Michael, but he is buried in Dickinson County, Michigan. It is clear upon visual inspection that there are burials to the north of Daniel’s monument. Depressions in the ground often indicate very old burials, since pressure from the earth eventually crushes and implodes wooden caskets. Today, burials in Wisconsin require use of a concrete burial vault to prevent this situation.

There is a good chance all of the “missing” graves are immediately to the north of the Daniel Mulqueen marker. The map is blank for that area, so it appears no one else holds a deed for that space. Other, similar size lots on the cemetery map contain as many as eight burials, so there would be room for a family. About 75 feet north of the Mulqueen lot, there is a small metal cross marking burial of an unknown parishioner. This makes it clear there are at least some undocumented burials at St. Patrick’s cemetery.

There are ways to find unmarked burials. Sunken grave markers can by found using a steel earth probe. The same earth probe can indicate unmarked burials, since the earth in the burial location is less compact than surrounding, undisturbed ground. Those methods can be tried on a future cemetery visit. Other methods, including use of ground-penetrating radar, are too expensive to be practical.

We plan to examine the record books for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, which should include death, funeral and burial information. Those records are most likely held by the Diocese of Green Bay, where we have already filed a request for access.

Mulqueens Major Donors to Build St. Patrick’s in Askeaton

The Mulqueen family that came from Ireland to settle near Askeaton, Wisconsin, donated today’s equivalent of $15,000 to help build St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in 1908. The donation amounts from four Mulqueen family members are etched into a marble monument in the narthex of the church in southern Brown County, Wisconsin.

A recent visit to the tiny hamlet of Askeaton unearthed more details of the Mulqueen family that settled there in the 1850s. These pioneers are the ancestors of Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965), who grew up on his grandparents farm just a couple miles from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

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The names of Mary, James, Daniel and Thomas Mulqueen are etched into the donor monument at the back of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Askeaton.

On the southern wall of the narthex of the church is a beautiful marble monument with the roll of donors who put up the funds to build the new St. Patrick’s that was dedicated in 1908. It replaced the previous church structure that had been across the road on land that is now part of the parish cemetery. The family matriarch, Mary (Corcoran) Mulqueen, donated $100, while her sons Daniel Jr., Thomas and James donated a total of $500. The $600 Mulqueen family donation represents at least $15,000 in 2017 dollars. For this hard-working farm family, this was no doubt a major sacrifice. Overall, parishioners raised the 2017 equivalent of $475,000 to build the church.

One thing is clear looking at the monument and examining some of the early church books: the family name was Mulqueen, not the McQueen that appears on headstones in St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery across the street. The two surnames seemed to be used almost interchangeably, but the Mulqueen spelling is what appears in church records.

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The old St. Patrick’s Catholic School on the edge of cemetery property in Askeaton, Wis.

St. Patrick’s is a stunning church with an arched ceiling and a collection of some of the most beautiful stained glass windows you will ever see. The windows depict saints and scenes from the New Testament, including Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, the Resurrection, the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, St. Michael the Archangel, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Guardian Angel, St. Patrick and more. Mass is still said here twice a week.

It is very clear looking at the church, the two former school buildings and the well-kept cemetery that the Catholic Church has always been at the heart of life in Askeaton. Even before the Irish immigrants could build the first church in Askeaton, they attended Mass in each other’s homes. Before long, though, they built the original St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and had a full-time resident priest. Earl Mulqueen and his  younger sister Elizabeth no doubt received First Holy Communion and Confirmation in this church.

Elizabeth McQueen Chase was a Victim of Typhus in March 1897

Bridget Elizabeth (McQueen) Chase, the mother of Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965), died of typhus on March 12, 1897, just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter Elizabeth. That fact is revealed in a death certificate just received from the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.

The death certificate says Elizabeth was just 20, much younger than the age listed in her newspaper obituary. That is most likely an error, as the 1870 U.S. Census puts her birthdate at about 1866. That means she died at about age 31. Two weeks prior to her death, on February 26, 1897, she gave birth to daughter Elizabeth in Green Bay. Earl was just over 2 years old when his mother died.

Typhus is a bacterial disease characterized by a rash, fever, cough, headaches, rapid breathing and confusion. Before the widespread availability of antibiotics such as doxycycline, typhus was often fatal. The disease has several forms, although the most common form was spread by body lice. It is different than typhoid fever.

The Brown County death certificate helps shed a little more light on Elizabeth’s story. Until recently, we had no idea who Earl’s mother was. Earl was raised on his grandparents’ farm near Askeaton, Wisconsin after the death of both parents. He took his mother’s maiden name. His father, Charles Henry Chase, is still largely a mystery — one we hope to solve with help of Charles and Elizabeth’s marriage certificate. The couple were married on September 4, 1894, about four months before Earl’s birth. Earl was said to be born in Marinette, while his sister Elizabeth was born in Green Bay. The young Chase family was living in Green Bay at the time of Bridget Elizabeth’s death.

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Newspaper obituaries state the burial location for Daniel Mulqueen Jr. as St. Patrick’s in Askeaton.

While progress has been made, the mysteries keep piling up. St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Askeaton has no record of Bridget Elizabeth McQueen Chase’s 1897 burial. Her newspaper obituary clearly states her funeral was at St. Patrick’s church. No burial records seem to exist for four other members of the Askeaton McQueen family, including Mary (Corcoran) McQueen (1827-1913), Thomas McQueen (1855-1913), James McQueen (1853-unknown) and Daniel McQueen Jr. (1865-1926). Newspaper obituaries for most of those individuals state that the funerals and/or burials were at St. Patrick’s in Askeaton. A planned visit to the cemetery could clear things up, but right now there does not appear to be a paper trail for those burials.

We do know the burial locations of the other two children of Daniel and Mary McQueen / Mulqueen. Michael McQueen (1860-1947) is buried in Norway, Dickinson County, Michigan. He lived much of his adult life in Vulcan, Michigan. Mary (McQueen) McCaughey (1868-1945) is buried with her husband in Huron County, Ontario, Canada.

Key questions that still need answers regarding Earl and his ancestors:

  • What became of Earl’s father, Charles H. Chase? The 1898 Green Bay city directory lists a Charles Chase as a chef at Hotel Christie, but it’s not clear if this is the same man. The only death records for a Charles Chase for this time period are for a much older, already married man who farmed in Greenleaf, not far from Askeaton. That man died in 1905 at age 65.
  • Who were Charles Chase’s ancestors and what was their heritage?
  • Where is Earl’s birth certificate? No record seems to exist under the Chase or Mulqueen/McQueen names in Marinette or Brown counties. In fact, there is no birth certificate for him in state records at all.
  • Did Earl’s maternal grandparents, Daniel and Mary Mulqueen, come from County Limerick, Ireland, as did most of the settlers of Askeaton, Wisconsin?
US, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 - Earl James Mulqueen
The World War II draft card, along with other documents, for Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. list his place of birth as Marinette, Wisconsin. So far, no birth certificate has been found for him under the Chase, McQueen or Mulqueen surnames.