St. Philip's Cemetery was established in 1857 near the church. The land for the cemetery was obtained from James Garraughty and Mary, his wife. It was deeded August 14, 1858 to John Martin Henni, Catholic Bishop of Milwukee. The deed conveyed two acres of land. In1909 land from Walter Gorman and Katie Gorman to James Schwebach, Bishop of LaCrosse, accounted for 1 acre and 32 rods added to St. Philip's Cemetery. The first burial was that of Philip Murphy in whose honor the church was named for St. Philip.
The builder of the St. Philip Cemetery wall and Grotto was James Clancy.
This history information of St. Philip Cemetery was taken from an article in The Catholic Times, March 4, 2004 by writer, Joseph O'Brien, assisant editor and member of St. Philip Church. Information was gathered by local family and neighbors.
James Clancy was born and raised in what was then known as King's County, Ireland, before coming to the U.S. Located in the central region of Ireland, the county has since been renamed County Offly after Ireland gained its independence from British rule in 1922.
He settled in rural southwest WI in 1911 or 1912. He showed up on John Kinney's doorstep and said that they were related. He said they were related to the Kinneys and Gormans on his mother's side. He then moved in and lived with his cousin, Michael Kinney. He began working around the area as a stone mason. He built his first barn here in 1912. and also built stone silos.
Clancy was prolific in and around the Rolling Ground area. His work rises at strong intervals in the pitching landscape- whether it be stone silos, barn foundations, walls - or even the grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes located at St. Philip cemetery.
He was hired to build the cemetery wall, which at the time had the old Highway 171 separating the living and dead at St. Philip's, putting the cemtery on one side of the busy east/west road and the church on the other. Clancy began to fit stone and mortar and build the stone wall.
He built the grotto in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette, both of whose statues appear in the grotto. Clancy built the devotional site by commission. Rose Bannen, a fellow parishioner who shared in Clancy's devotion to the Blessed Virgin, commissioned him to build the modestly majestic structure at the top of the cemtery hill.
One day he fell ill. The doctors said it was liver cancer. Within a year of diagnosis, Clancy passed on August 4, 1948. His funeral was well attended. They all crowded into St. Philip's to pay their last respects to a man whose tireless love for stoncraft was a permanent fixture of the landscapes of the Rolling Ground area.