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Madonna Cemetery - Union Twnp (New Castle) PA

Madonna Cemetery, established in 1922, is located in Union Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. It was the cemetery for the former Madonna of Czestochowa Catholic Church/Parish, a Polish-ethnic congregation founded in 1902. The church building was completed in late 1903 and served the Polish enclave in the Oakland district for many years. The parish was consolidated with the St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Parish in 1993 to form the new Mary, Mother of Hope Parish. The former Madonna Church remained open for the time being but was closed in 2004. At that time St. Mary’s Church took on the former Madonna parishioners and was renamed as the Mary, Mother of Hope Catholic Church. The former Madonna property was sold to a private interest soon after.

The cemetery is located in a clearing in the middle of a residential area at the intersection of Scotland Lane and Cameron Avenue. My maternal grandmother Irene (LaPatka) DeMarc and many of my Uncle Bill Gierlach’s relatives are buried here. Not far from her gravesite is the final resting place of Waclav and Maria Kubinski, who owned and operated Kubinski’s Store in Chewton for many years. One of the more prominent graves is that of the Reverend Francis Baczewski, who served as pastor of Madonna Church from 1919 until his untimely death in 1934. A large memorial wall in honor of the popular Reverend John F. Fic, who died at the age of forty-seven in February 1964 while serving as Madonna’s pastor, was also dedicated in August 1964. Fic is not buried here though, as he was laid to rest in a family plot at St. Ignatius Cemetery in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Walking around you will notice a lot of Polish surnames such as Barczyk, Cwynar, Gierlach, Jaworski, Kwolek, Mateja, Presnar, and Sniezek.

This place – not surprising for a cemetery – is rumored to be haunted. A particular story holds that there is a stone with a picture of a man with one black and one white hand. The grave stone is that of Stanislaw Krowiak (1878-1927). Anyway, the legend holds that if you cover this stone with a bed sheet at midnight on October 30 (early morning of Halloween October 31) and knock on it three times, the ghost of Mr. Krowiak will supposedly appear behind you! I post this for historical purposes only. Please respect our ancestors and do vandalize or otherwise mistreat this or any stone.

Interesting tidbits: The first time I visited this cemetery was with my cousin Carrie Gierlach and it was after dark. I used a flashlight to locate my grandmother’s grave. Well, as expected the police arrived in no time at all. It’s good to know the locals keep an eye on the place though! The Union Township policeman was cool and when I told him my name he asked, “Are you related to Penny Bales?” Ha, it seems he went to Laurel High School with my cousin Penny, who now lives down south near Atlanta. After I told him I worked for NCIS he asked me close to a thousand questions about working for the government and such. Carrie almost fell asleep due to boredom. The next time I returned was alone during the day and oddly enough I spotted a flock of turkeys (some call this a “rafter of turkeys”) along the wooded area behind the cemetery. The group, two adult birds with about six or seven young ones, spotted me and made a beeline for the woods. I never saw them again but I did snap a few photos.

This cemetery is still in active use for the parish and is extremely well maintained.


Entrance gate at junction of Scotland Lane and Cameron Ave. (Sep 2009)


(Sep 2009)


(Jul 2009)


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(May 2013) Full Size


Rafter of turkeys that made a beeline for the woods when they spotted me. (Jul 2009)


Closeup of one of the adult turkeys. (Jul 2009)


(Sep 2009)


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Memorial stone dedicated to those lost in World War II. (Aug 2011)


My dear grandmother – Irene LaPatka DeMarc. I miss you! (Aug 2011)


(Aug 2010)


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The stone of the Kubinski’s, longtime owners of a general store in Chewton. (Aug 2011)


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The new sign at the cemetery. (Mar 2012) Full Size


(Mar 2012)


The inscription on the memorial for the popular Reverend John Fic, who passed away in 1964 while serving as the pastor of Madonna Church. He is buried in a family plot at St. Ignatius Cemetery in Carnegie PA. (Mar 2012)


(Mar 2012)


The gravesite of the Reverend Francis Baczewski, who served as pastor of Madonna Church from 1919 until his death in 1934. (Mar 2012)


(Mar 2012) Full Size


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My maternal grandmother Irene (LaPatka) DeMarc. (Mar 2012)


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The infamous stone of Stanislaw Krowiak (May 2013)


The Krowiak stone. (May 2013)


A closeup of the photo on the Stanislaw Krowiak stone. His left hand (on right side of photo) is noticeably darker. Perhaps its simply due to being obscured in a shadow. However, it appears to me that he is almost hiding that hand – like maybe it was burned or something. The whole left arm seems to be hanging in a somewhat odd fashion. (May 2013) Full Size


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A noticeable feature of the cemetery is a cluster of four graves off by themselves near the entrance. (May 2014) Full Size


The reason for the four isolated burials (shown above) is that their lives all ended in the same sad manner – with an act of suicide. Now that the Catholic Church is more sympathetic to the plight of the mentally ill you probably will not see this type of isolation again. (May 2014) Full Size


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An aerial view of the cemetery, showing the location of the four lone graves at the northern end of the grounds. (c2012)

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Comment

  1. I grew up in the house behind the WWII memorial, and my parents still live there. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the ones who called the cops! sorry :)

    I grew up in the former Madonna Church, as did my father and grandmother. I have several family members buried there, and I can attest that the gravestone with the man with the black hand does indeed exist. As of the last time I checked, it has never been desecrated, only worn by age.

    Diana M Borowski · 11/20/2012 08:41 PM · #

  2. I’ve seen the tombstone with the one black hand and one white. I thought it was because the picture is old. The ghost story, I wouldn’t believe that.

    K. Stoddard · 03/05/2013 05:23 AM · #

  3. i seen that tombstone with the guy with the dark hand.for the first time when i was 6 yrs old with my cousin who lived on robinwood st,last house on the street on the left(used to be the last house), we went back and seen it and we were told that on oct 30 the grave would turn itself around? dont know if theres any truth to that, but last year Me and my brother went up there so i could show him the grave, I cant remember his name exactly but i think his first name was Stanislaw. dont know if it was a shadow in the pic, a birth defect, or what, but it always creeped me out for years when i’d think about it and the stories i heard for

    Gino Ventura · 03/06/2013 11:08 PM · #

  4. i was just in t6he cemetery this morning with my brother we took pics of his pic on the headstone. his name was syanislaw krowiak, hee was born in poland in a month wrenszia(or something like that) 1872 and died maja 1927. his hand is black, but dont know why. the cross on top of the stone now lays in front of it on the ground.

    Gino Ventura · 03/07/2013 08:54 AM · #

  5. I was an alter boy for Father John Fic up until his untimely death. He was a great shepard for his flock. The man never smoked a cigarette in his life but died from lung cancer. I’ll remember him forever.

    Dan Cwynar · 05/12/2013 08:11 AM · #

  6. The last time I visited in early 2013, I was amazed at all the “relatives” in Madonna Cemetery. The veterans flags were tattered which caused a trip to Walmart. Now, Dad (Frank) and uncles (John and Joseph (Yuki), I think) have new flags. It is indeed a very well maintained cemetery. God bless all the wonderful folks buried there.

    Robert Ostrowski · 11/15/2013 11:07 AM · #

  7. My family is buried there. The one thing that baffles me is the two people off by themselves. They stand out in the middle all the way in the back by the trees. I always wanted to know why they was alone. My Great Aunt did tell me that those people committed suicide and thats why they are by themselves. I just want to know if its right.

    kathy lynn golonka · 01/13/2014 06:32 PM · #

  8. In the 50’s when I was young, I wondered why those graves were all alone on the edge in the weeds. My mom said that anyone who committed suicide could not be buried on blessed ground. I sure hope the church has changed that law.

    John Hink · 05/04/2016 07:00 PM · #

  9. I am interested in purching a plot to the right of gardeners building. If anyone.
    Has any information regarding this, please contact me at jbocz@aol.com or call me at 330 759 1173.
    I have many relatives, parents, and grandparents already there.
    Thank you for your consideration.

    Joseph P Boczar · 06/02/2016 04:41 PM · #