To any passersby along the age-old Riverside Drive in the village of Allouez, Wisconsin, the image of this monument may seem like just another average crypt. It is certainly not striking upon first glance—but the history and backstory of this memorial piques a peculiar interest.
Inside Woodlawn Cemetery, which is the final resting place for many of the area’s historically acclaimed citizens, sits a relatively small mausoleum known locally as the Minahan Crypt.
Dr. William Edward Minahan was born on April 20, 1867 to parents William B. Minahan and Mary Shaughnessy. He was one of several well-known members of this large Irish family: He and his brothers, John Robert Minahan and Robert Edward Minahan, were practicing physicians held in high regard. John and Robert are credited with the rise of St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin, while William’s career was better well known in the city of Fond Du Lac.
Given his success and the overall merit of the Minahan name, the family was quite wealthy. This allowed William to purchase a first class ticket for the sailing of the RMS Titanic for the journey back to the United States after a visit to Ireland. He boarded with his wife Lillian and his sister Daisy. They were staying in cabin C78.
On the fateful night of April 15, 1912, when the “unsinkable” ship proved itself otherwise, the Minahans spent the evening in the ship’s café, and had retired to their beds before the ship collided with an iceberg. They were awakened by the sound of a woman crying outside their cabin. Daisy and Lillian were able to board a lifeboat, and both survived the disaster. William was one of the 1,500 people who perished. Reportedly, his last words to them were: “Be brave.”
William’s body was recovered with many of his personal belongings still attached to him. Once he had been recognized and claimed by his family, his body was forwarded to his brother Victor, and the family had him interred in Woodlawn Cemetery. The crypt is set off slightly from the other tombstones in the area and this has allowed the memorial to overlook a body of water called the Fox River, which is poetic as much as it is tragic.
Know Before You Go
The easiest way to access this crypt is to enter Woodlawn Cemetery off of Webster Ave., and then follow the roads to Section A. There is a small gap between the sections that acts as a path down to the memorial. Follow this a short distance, and walk down the stone stairs situated directly beside the crypt. There is a ledge with a fence that allows you to walk around, but be mindful that this is not flat terrain. Alternatively, if you do not wish to trek to this exact spot, the memorial is viewable off the road by driving down Riverside Dr. in Allouez, Wisconsin. Please be respectful when visiting and do not enter this cemetery at night.