Holy Cross Cemetery was officially opened in 1849 as a parish cemetery, although records show burials dating as far back as 1830. In 1853, the cemetery was expanded when Bishop John Timon borrowed $1,200 to purchase a small farm for a cemetery and consecrated 40 acres of it. For this reason, it was noted as being the "Bishop's" cemetery, as title to the property was in his name.
This cemetery's boundaries contain the graves of early Irish immigrants - those who dug the Erie Canal, built the railroads, worked the docks and Great Lake's steamboats and labored at the grain elevators and steel mills. Those who died in tragedies also lie in place here; nine children ranging in age from 12 to 19 and a young fireman who all died in the 1880 wallpaper factory fire on Perry Street in Buffalo; nearly 700 victims of the 1918 flu epidemic; Casimir Mazurek, victim of the 1919 strike violence at a steel plant and Edward R. Lonegrin, a young Irish lieutenant and Fenian solider, killed in the 1866 battle of Ridgeway, Canada.
When Father Nelson Baker, founder of Our Lady of Victory Basilica and Homes of Charity, which borders Holy Cross Cemetery, died in 1936, he was laid to rest in the stretch of cemetery in the shadow of the basilica.
Holy Cross Cemetery is the largest of the Catholic cemeteries in the Diocese of Buffalo, consisting of approximately 191 acres. There are over 130,000 interments in this cemetery with approximately 60 acres of undeveloped land for future cemetery use.
This beautiful, sprawling cemetery in Lackawanna is in the backyard of the Our Lady of Victory Basilica.