History of the West Park

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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The Code Family of St. Patricks Cemetery
by Peggy Calvey Patton

Code family

Front:  Martha, William, Jr. and William Code, Sr.
Back:  Catherine and Elizabeth

The lovely old parish graveyard at the corner of Puritas Avenue and Rocky River Drive holds many sad stories, but the story of the Code Family is wrenching tragic.

William E. Code, an immigrant from Wexford County, Ireland, married Martha Kennedy, who emigrated from Ireland at age eight in 1849. The couple married in the mid-1860s and had ten children that we know of: five girls and five boys. (Births were not required to be reported until 1920.) Their home stood at 4395 Rocky River Drive, just north of St. Patrick Catholic Church, in what was then Rockport Township. William was a laborer and the parish sacristan, responsible for the church contents and grounds.

Within seventeen years the Codes lost seven of their children, all buried in the church's small graveyard. Five of those deaths are recorded at the Cuyahoga County Archives. The first burial was baby Mary Ann who died at only seven months in 1871. Next, daughter Julia succumbed to diphtheria at five years of age in 1878. Daughter Martha, named after her mother, is buried next to her sisters. Her age is not legible on the white gravestone. There is another small weather-beaten stone at the end of the row, but it is not readable. It likely marks the grave of Edward W. Code, whose birth was recorded in November 1882.

code burial plot

The Code Family plot at St. Patrick Church Cemetery

A second row of headstones holds the graves of William and Martha's sons. Samuel F., their eldest child, had reached 18 years of age when he was killed on the railroad in 1885. The loss of two more sons, just a few years later, must have been unendurable as both died on the same day - September 21, 1888. Brothers Francis (Frank) W., nearly six, and Thomas H., seven years old, passed away just thirteen hours apart. Their cause of death is listed as croup, an inflammation of the larynx and trachea in children, not uncommon in the nineteenth century.

code sons headstones

Two of William and Martha Code's sons died on the same day in 1888.
Francis, nearly six, and Thomas, seven, died only thirteen hours apart.  St. Patrick Church Cemetery

Only three of the Code children lived to adulthood. The sole surviving son, William E. Code Jr., was born in 1878. He married Lucille C. McCarthy of Berea in September 1902 and the couple lived on Long Island, New York. Their only child, Malcolm, died at the age of 17 in 1922.

In 1897 daughter Elizabeth married James F. Code, possibly a relative from Ireland, and they had a son and two daughters. The graves of Elizabeth and James are several yards away from her family’s plot. She died in 1943 at age 75. Their son Adelbert T., who was married and lived in Shaker Heights, died at the age of 42 in 1945.

The remaining Code daughter, Katherine D., married Thomas Murray in 1908. She lived to 79 years of age and was buried in 1953. The Murrays had no children. Their graves are in the family plot next to her parents. Katherine was the last member of the Code family to be buried in St. Patrick's graveyard.

Father William E. Code Sr. died in 1920 at age 77, a railroad retiree. Mother Martha lived to nearly 100 years of age and passed away in her home on Rocky River Drive in 1941. Her Cleveland Press obituary mentions her three adult children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is credited with being "probably the oldest Irish immigrant in Cleveland."

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Updated 3 July 2014