Historic Markers Across Florida

Pioneer Priests' Graves

Marker ID:  
Location: in St. Louis Catholic Cemetery (Oaklawn ) at the corner of N. Morgan St. and E. Laurel St., Tampa, FL
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 57.310    W 082° 27.460
  27.95516666    -82.45766666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: WMQ899


Here lie the remains of five pioneer priests, the oldest known priests' graves on the West Coast of Florida. While little is known of Fr. Bayard who died in 1882, the Polish born Fr. Emil Stenzel was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who served as Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in San Antonio, Fl. from May-September 1884.

Fr. Charles Peterson, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine and much beloved Tampa pastor, contracted yellow fever in October 1887 and died 3 days later. Fr. Felix Swemberg quickly arrived from Orlando to provide assistance only to succumb to the disease himself within 4 days. Less than a year later, Fr. Dennis O'Sullivan, an Irish priest and former African missionary came to Tampa as pastor. 12 days later he too died of yellow fever.

The loss of a quarter of his priests to yellow fever within a year prompted Bishop Moore to bring the Jesuits back to Florida after an absence of over 300 years.

Diocese of St. Petersburg