What's Historic About Brookville, Pennsylvania?

A Peek Into the Past; St. Marys Cemetery
By Emily Straitiff

Are you wondering what's so historical about Brookville, Pennsylvania?

Well, there are many important sites to see that were created by the Brookvillians themselves. All the oldfashioned buildings, shops, and historical homes belonged to the people of this town from times past. I can't think of a better way to view the past, than to look back in time to the people who shaped this town into what it is today. Without the people, there wouldn't be any community to call historic.

St. Marys, the original Catholic Cemetery, is located about one mile south, just out of Brookville on Rte. 36. This cemetery can be found on the right side of the road, gently sloping toward a clup of treees. In the cemetery are the remains of some very interesting people. The names live on as out small town grows for they were the foundation of our town. The majority of the tombstones date back to the middle 1800s through the 1900's, the newest being 1973.

The small area is marked by monuments worn by time; large metal crosses point the way to Heaven and monuments to Civil War veterans are proudly marked with a United States Flag. There are graves of other veterans who fought for the United States of America as well.

There were many common people buried there. They were conected by one common thread, their religion. Prominent people, doctors, lawyers, and clerks are buried there. There are the childern, too, each marked with the date of their passing. Some of the graves list the cause of the child's death, polio or fever, diseases that that robbed young life. These were the people who lived at a time greatly different than our own. They were the people who helped make what we have today even better.

My grandmother, Frances Browning now age 75, remembers the "good old days" like yesterday. She recalls going to the store owned by Mr. Abe Sterck that was located at 295 Main Street, in Brookville, presently DeMans Sport & Gift Shop. There she could purchase a bag of fresh roasted peanuts that you could smell roasting from one end of town to the other. Mr. Sterck is buried at the Original St. Marys Cemetery.

My great-great-great grandfather, Mr. Peter Helmheckel died on Dec. 2, 1899, at the age of 84 years. He spent his life in Brookville working with wood and in the lumbering business. His wife, Mrs. Mary Helmheckel passed away on August 31, 1907. They were the first known Helmheckles to have come from Germany. Both are buried together at the St. Marys Cemetery.

As we look back in time, we see the many changes that have brought us up to the year 1997. We need to be thankful for all the many conveniences that we take for granted that did not exist years ago. One very small cemetery out of many others has the ability to let us remember the human beings that gave us what we have today. Now when you see the historic structures of this town, please remember the people who made Brookville, Historic.

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