skip to Main Content
Menu
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

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.

Read more...

‘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.”

WATCH THE VIDEO

Read more...

Volunteers restore 100 headstones at historic Fairview Cemetery

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

Read more...

Maryland church learns about its past following discovery of forgotten cemetery

CHARLES COUNTY, MD — A small forest, in Southern Maryland, once held a decade’s-long secret that may have gone unnoticed if not for the efforts of a curious clergywoman.

Reverend Ruby Brown-Thomas grew up visiting Nanjemoy, Maryland. Nanjemoy is a small Charles County community that sits just a few miles east of the Potomac River.

It is not very large. Just a few roads divide its sprawling farmland. Drivers are more likely to encounter a four-way stop there than a stoplight.

But, it holds a special place in Brown-Thomas’ heart. She calls it, “God’s Country”.

“It’s quiet,” Brown-Thomas said. “It’s peaceful.”

 

WATCH THE VIDEO

Read more...

A Vietnam veteran was going to be buried alone. Then a stranger helped find his family.

By Isabella Gomez and Paul P. Murphy, CNN
Updated 8:48 PM ET, Wed May 16, 2018

When Dave Fullarton discovered the ashes of former Army Captain Larry Casey, he felt the Vietnam veteran deserved a proper military funeral. But he didn’t want to be the only one to honor him.

The safe and vault repairman from Maryland came across the remains in February when he was cleaning out the house of a close friend who had died. That friend, he said, turned out to have been best friends with Casey.

“I decided to contact the Baltimore National Cemetery to ask for some guidance,” he told CNN. “All we had was a box of ashes and some photographs.”

Neither Fullarton nor his late friend’s family had ever met Casey, who died in 2002. They did not know if he had any surviving family members.

As the cemetery made arrangements for a full military burial on May 15, Fullarton posted on social media inviting people to pay their respects. Many joined his search and managed to track down Casey’s widow, who lives in Georgia, and his daughter, who lives in Texas. Both women flew out on less than a day’s notice to attend the burial.

Read the entire story on CNN.

Read more...

County Council Hopefuls Voice Support for Memorializing Historic Westbard Cemetery Site

Candidates urge housing agency to preserve burial ground under apartment parking lot

Candidates and community members showed up at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission on Wednesday.

Candidates and community members showed up at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission on Wednesday.

BETHANY RODGERS

A group of candidates for Montgomery County Council spoke up Wednesday in support of memorializing the site of a long lost African-American cemetery in Bethesda.

The burial ground a short distance from River Road in Westbard is partially covered by a parking lot for apartments owned by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, and the political hopefuls said it’s time for the agency to redress past wrongs.

Read more...

2018 Maryland Burial Sites Legislation

 In a session where major issues of gun control, school safety and funding, climate change and medical coverage captured the headlines, the General Assembly took time to protect Maryland’s history and sacred burial sites.  The effort required 2 bold sponsors, a core group of resolute advocates, 5 House and Senate committees, and hundreds of emails and phone calls to pass the first burial sites legislation since the 1990s.  Governor Larry Hogan signed both bills on May 8.  We traded a signing pen for “I Brake for Old Graveyards” bumper sticker.


Executive Office of the Governor, Joe Andrucyk, photographer

While half of the changes proposed by the Coalition and allies did not survive in committees, we are happy to report that descendants and caretakers will gain easier access, owners will be required to consult with the Maryland Historical Trust about conservation treatment, and counties and towns are now authorized to provide a property tax credit related to burial sites.

Appreciation goes to bill sponsors Delegate Tony Knotts of Prince George’s County and Senator Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, to the Maryland Association of Counties, David Zinner, Funeral Consumers Alliance, The War of 1812 Society in Maryland, and to all Marylanders who urged legislators to improve state law for the benefit of abandoned and neglected cemeteries.

Effective date of this legislation is June 1, 2018.  The precise new wording in sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland will be posted on this site as soon as those details are available from Legislative Services at the Maryland General Assembly.

Read more...

Rediscovering the African-American graveyard beneath a Baltimore shopping center

By Christina Tkacik – The Baltimore Sun – Mar 20, 2018

Ron Castanzo pulled up to the parking lot of the strip mall in the Belair-Edison neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore in his minivan a while back.

On a grassy spot near the entrance of the Belair Edison Crossing shopping center on Belair Road, he saw the top of a white tombstone breaking through the ground, like a tooth coming in.

Castanzo, a professor at the University of Baltimore who teaches courses in anthropology and human biology, remembers thinking: “Wow, there was a cemetery here.”

Read more...
Events

Meetings are open to all members.

Grants

Applications For Trader Foundation Grants Are Due On January 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...
Back To Top