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Promoting the preservation and protection of the burial sites, cemeteries, and grave yards in Maryland.

Promoting the preservation and protection of the burial sites, cemeteries, and grave yards in Maryland.

A beautiful day for mapping of the Sharpsburg Methodist Cemetery

Most of us imagine a burial as a respectful and dignified laying to rest of a person who touched our lives and contributed to our culture.

Over time, however, burial sites in Maryland have too often been neglected, not maintained, unprotected, and the victims of expediency and exploitation by persons seeking a short-term economic or personal goal. The Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites (CPMBS) believes that neglect or the willful desecration or destruction of burial sites is unacceptable in a civilized society. Our members appreciate the importance of burial sites as hallowed grounds, irreplaceable cultural resources, and sources of valuable genealogical data often found nowhere else.

CPMBS is a State-wide nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to protecting and preserving historic Maryland cemeteries. Membership in the Coalition is open to Marylanders and others who care about their heritage and their ancestors. The Coalition recognizes that many burial sites are established through a purchased right of burial that is protected by the laws of Maryland, with such right passing on to the relatives of the deceased, and which right cannot lawfully be abridged by others at will. These beliefs led individuals in the summer of 1991 to form a group that would address concerns not covered by existing laws and organizations. Learn more by reading About Us.

The Coalition is grateful for financial assistance from Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust to enable this website.

News

15-Year Effort to Document County Cemeteries Uncovers 50 New Sites

County Planning Board to review new guidelines to preserve burial grounds
By Caitlynn Peetz  |  Bethesda Magazine | Published February 13, 2019

A first-of-its-kind search for Montgomery County cemeteries uncovered more than 50 previously undocumented burial grounds, and county planners have new guidelines to preserve them.

The draft guidelines, set for review by the county Planning Board next week, outline requirements for retaining existing cemeteries in their original location unless approved for relocation by the Planning Board.

The guidelines come after a 15-year volunteer effort to identify burial sites.

“Cemeteries are significant and important cultural resources in Montgomery County,” the report says. “Preservation of these unique archaeological resources will further protect the cultural heritage of Montgomery County.”

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Planning commission recommends historic designation for Nanjemoy church cemetery

Maryland Independent – By Paul Lagasse, February 4, 2019

The Charles County Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend that the county commissioners approve a local historic landmark designation for a cemetery in Nanjemoy that dates back to the mid-19th century.

In December, the county Historic Preservation Commission determined that the cemetery of the Mt. Hope Baptist Church on Gilroy Road met the criteria outlined in the county’s zoning ordinance for sites of local historical and cultural significance, which requires that it have “character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or culture of the County, State, or Nation.”

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Sea level rise imperils historic grave site on Eastern Shore of Maryland

If Joe Fehrer hadn’t stumbled across the grave site, it might never have been found. 

Flanked by an encroaching marsh, it sits a half mile walk from the nearest road through water that threatens to flow over the tops of mud boots. 

On a sunny Friday morning on the way to the site in the Robinson Neck preserve on Taylors Island, Fehrer tests the water depth with a well-worn staff. 

“This channel is too deep to cross,” he says, looping back to chart a new course.

His mission for the day was to measure and record information about a group of historic graves located inside the Nature Conservancy’s preserve in Dorchester County, Maryland.

Dating predominantly from the early 19th century, a cluster of family gravestones peaks out of the wooded ground at the edge of the marsh. 

Some are sunken but some still stand tall after a couple hundred years.

Last year he relocated the site.

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Forgotten Slave Cemetery Discovered in Maryland

CROWNSVILLE, MD – African America history is sometimes hard to come across because so little is known and recorded.

Yet archeologists can unearth unspoiled records of what happened hundreds of years ago.

The Maryland Department of Transportation and State Highway Administration recently uncovered a long-forgotten slave cemetery in Correspondent Morgan Wright reports on how archeologists have discovered slave quarters, a slave cemetery and descendants of slaves that once worked and lived on the land.

Deep in the forest, sisters Shelly Evans and Wanda Watts walk in the footsteps of their ancestors the two women share a frustration common to many African Americans, whose ancestors were enslaved in America.

“We have no history. We begin and we end here,” says Wanda Watts.

But thanks to a recent and accidental discovery, the sisters may have uncovered their family’s hidden family on this piece of land.

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Ocean City Oddities: The Only Grave in Town, and the Mystery of Captain Carhart

There is only one known marked grave in Ocean City, located just before the terminus of the Route 50 bridge in West OC. The grave resides within the boundaries of a housing development on Golf Course Road, Captain’s Hill. There are no cemeteries or even another lone marked tombstone in Ocean City; burying the deceased in a coastal area has long been an unsound idea since shorelines are known to erode, and the grounds of Ocean City have never been conducive to a proper, respective burial.

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Statement from Preservation Maryland

In light of ongoing debate over the development of several historic cemeteries across the state, including the Christopher Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland, Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding issued the following statement:

Historic cemeteries, like historic buildings and landscapes, provide critical connections between our past and future. Cemeteries literally contain the physical remnants – human remains – of our past. Cemeteries are evocative and powerful places that speak to descendants and casual visitors equally.

These silent and serene places are also worthy and deserving our respect and continued vigilance. Paving over cemeteries is never an acceptable or appropriate way to honor or preserve our historic burial grounds. 

Moving forward, Preservation Maryland will continue to support the preservation of our state’s historic cemeteries. Whether through our partnership Six-to-Fix project with the Coalition for the Protection of Maryland Burial Sites or our planned project with the Maryland State Highway Administration to document historic cemeteries in a first-of-its-kind GIS database, we are committed to taking real and substantive action to protect these places.

We also believe that the state and jurisdictions across it should work proactively to protect historic cemeteries and make it clear that development of places made hallowed with human remains are not appropriate for development.

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‘Serious Inventory Control Problem’ in Maryland’s Body Donation Program Led to Mishandled Remains

By Scott MacFarlane, Katie Leslie and Steve Jones

A Maryland program overseeing thousands of bodies given to science mishandled the remains of at least several of its donors, with problems including poor tracking of bodies, a donor’s cremains being mistakenly buried in a state cemetery and an allegation of an employee knowingly sending the wrong remains to a donor’s family, a News4 I-Team investigation has found.

Records obtained by News4 through an open records request reveal the newly appointed director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board alerted state officials in late July about what he described as a “serious inventory control problem.”

Robert Wilk, who took over the anatomy board last summer, wrote that he learned of a case in which a former employee “used anatomical material from the lab to ‘produce’ a body for cremation” and “wrongfully” obtained cremation approval before giving those ashes to a different donor’s family. He also described discrepancies between the state board’s records and those kept by a donor institution, leading to confusion over which bodies had already been cremated.

The problems were so bad, Wilk continued, he had considered suspending the anatomy board after taking the helm.

Maryland Department of Health officials are now pledging improvements at the program, which manages thousands of bodies annually donated for scientific and medical research at both in and out-of-state institutions. The anatomy board reports to the Department of Health but is jointly run by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“We will get to the bottom of this,” said Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health services. “We don’t want to leave any uncertainty about the state anatomy board.”

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Volunteers restore 100 headstones at historic Fairview Cemetery

Cemetery supervisor says names, dates on headstones became hard to read

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Events

Meetings are open to all members.

Grants

Applications for Trader Foundation Grants are Due on July 1, 2019

The Trader Foundation for Maryland Burial Sites provides financial assistance for worthy projects to rejuvenate endangered historic Maryland cemeteries. The Foundation invites applications for grants up to $2,000 to qualified parties. Application deadlines are January 1 and July 1 of each year.

The project or program must benefit a specific burial ground in Maryland, and Trader funds must be matched by the grantee in cash or in kind. Examples of eligible projects include rescue of an endangered site, gravestone conservation or restoration, documentation, protection of burial site from desecration by nature or by man, cemetery clean-up, and planning for restoration. For further information and the application form, click here.

Apply now...
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