The first St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery was located 3 miles straight south and one-half mile east of present-day Walnut, at the intersection of 510th Street and Sumac Road. The town of Walnut was in its infancy. Donald Stuart donated the property from his farm for a Catholic cemetery in 1873. In those first years, about 7 or 8 burials were made there. Most were said to have been children.
In 1882, a decision was made to purchase 10 acres of land in the NW corner of Walnut for a new cemetery. The bodies were removed from their resting places in the original cemetery and moved to the new location. The original location was then returned to cropland. Today the area is just to the southwest of the above-mentioned road intersection.
At first, the cemetery was primarily used by farmers of Irish decent. During a walking tour of the cemetery, one can easily recognize the Irish influence by looking for the headstones with Celtic crosses. Two such stones are those of the Burke family just inside the main entrance and the Fraser family near the south side. Many stones are prominent. In 1975, the cemetery was graced by a large black wooden cross at its center until nature and its elements deteriorated it. A large metal cross replaced the original.
While several members of the Walnut church, 5 women and 2 men, went on to join the religious community, Rev. Thomas Murphy is the only Catholic priest buried here. Donald Stuart, the donor of the first site, has a child buried in the present St. Patrick’s Cemetery. Donald moved to Oklahoma for several years, where his family ranched, before moving to Kansas City, Missouri, where he is buried. However, the Stuart family does have 26 family members buried here. There are at least 50 unmarked graves. For example, the Barrett lot of 8 spaces does not have a single marker on any one of the 8 known graves. There are about 450 burials in this well-maintained cemetery. Care has been taken to honor those who are buried here.