In May 1852, this parcel of land was purchased by Bishop (now Saint) John N. Neumann of Philadelphia. From the early 1850s through the late 1870s, this was the primary cemetery for Wilmington's Catholics. Those buried here represented all walks of life, from leather workers and housekeepers to elected officials and prominent businessmen. Some Civil War era soldiers were buried here, including Medal of Honor recipient Bernard McCarren. Though the majority of those interred were of Irish descent; there were also many other ethnicities represented, including German, Swiss, African American, Polish and English.
By the early 1880s, Old Cathedral Cemetery had fallen into disrepair and church officials began urging parishioners to move their departed loved ones to a new cemetery on Lancaster Avenue. By the mid-1950s it was assumed that all remains had been removed and the property was sold to the Delaware Hospital for use as a parking lot. When the lot was excavated in 1998 the remains of more than 2,000 individuals were discovered. After respectful and painstaking disinterment by a large team of archaeologists, the remains were reinterred at All Saints Cemetery on Kirkwood Highway. In May 1999, a Catholic Mass and memorial service was held at All Saints to honor and remember those were laid to rest there.