For their outstanding effort to preserve historic cemeteries, two Maryland organizations have received the Periwinkle Award from the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc., Maryland’s only non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the state’s old family and public cemeteries, historic churchyards, and Indian burial grounds.
The awards were presented on April 16, 2011 in Thurmont, Maryland.
Dennis Green and Tina Simmons
Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge North Tract
In the spring of 2006 Dennis Green started on what has become an ongoing project in locating, clearing some very overgrown cemeteries, and maintaining those same cemeteries in Ann Arundel County. Most of these cemeteries are on what is now part of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge North Tract. This area was once part of Ft. Meade and the 8000 + acres were turned over to Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge in 1991 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990. Christine Simmons of the Anne Arundel Genealogical Society started volunteering at the North Tract as well. The group mostly was helping to mow the grass, clear the trees and doing general trail maintenance. Along the way it was learned that there were 9 known cemeteries in the North Tract and quite probably a few more that have not be seen or positively identified for more than 50 years.
After receiving permission from Fish & Wildlife to clean up the cemeteries, the group of volunteers received help from many individuals and summer help from kids in the YCC program (Youth Conservation Corp). By the second year all nine cemeteries had been cleared and were showing signs that at least one person cared about these old cemeteries. Cemetery maintenance is still being done today.
Dennis Green looks for signs of the former homesteads in the North Tract and hikes old trails and road beds in search of other cemeteries. His methods have uncovered several more cemeteries in the North Tract including an old pet cemetery.
Dennis and Tina, with her experience in documenting cemeteries in Anne Arundel County this last 20 years or more, pooled their resources and learned more about the stone fragments and the history of the cemeteries found in the North Tract.
There is a bumper sticker saying “I stop for old cemeteries” put out by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Grounds. Perhaps Dennis should have one that reads “I stop to clean up old cemeteries: at least once”.
We are pleased to honor Dennis and his efforts to locate, clear, and maintain the cemeteries in the North Tract as well as other locations in Anne Arundel County.
Edward Taylor, Jr.
Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization
Our second winner this year was Edward Taylor, Jr. and the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, Inc. (CHCO). Ed and the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, Inc. (CHCO) need no introduction to the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc. (CPMBS). As founding and charter members of the Coalition, Edward Taylor and the efforts of the CHCO around Cumberland, MD, are well known to many of our members.
Edward Taylor is currently president of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, which he founded in 1983 along with the late Katherine Wolford. Their purpose has been to support gravesites in all manner of ways using only private effort and funds. Those efforts include adopting graveyards in the region for restoration and maintenance, restoring existing individual gravesite monuments, providing new individual monuments which also provide funding for the CHCO, and protecting, maintaining and honoring these individual sites through their protected gravesite program. All sites are maintained and honored (e.g., decoration) all year long. To date, 11 graveyards are adopted and some 800 monuments have been restored or created.
CHCO also regularly holds memorial services in honor of the dead in the area, in addition to special Federal Memorial Day services at veterans’ sites, and memorial services in honor of Confederate History Month at Confederate veterans’ sites.
In an effort to help spread the preservation and protection of gravesites state-wide, the CHCO helped to found CPMBS in 1991 and was active from the start at efforts to better protect all sites in our state of Maryland.
Edward Taylor and the CHCO have worked almost weekly for some 25 years helping their local gravesites, as well as being active in CPMBS from the first.