Promotin the preservation and protection of the burial sites, cemeteries, and grave yards in Maryland.
Cemetery Advocates Incensed at Desecration of Silver Spring Grave Marker
A Statement by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites – June 2020
The Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc., the state-wide nonprofit that assists owners and advocates to preserve cemeteries, expresses dismay at the recent desecration and destruction of a historic grave marker in Montgomery County.
The Coalition was formed to protect all Maryland cemeteries. It beseeches citizens and organizations to preserve historic burial sites wherever they may be located and whoever is interred there. While we appreciate that some view Confederate memorials as hurtful, there is absolutely no excuse for vandalism and destruction of any grave marker, on public or private property.
The Coalition reminds all citizens and public officials that desecration of burial sites is a criminal offense, punishable by Maryland law. Section § 10-404 of the Annotated Code of Maryland prohibits destruction, damage, defacing, or removing funerary objects in a cemetery. A person who violates this law on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $10,000 or both. Further, a person found guilty shall pay for the restoration of any damaged or defaced property in a cemetery to the owner of the cemetery. The Coalition calls upon those with knowledge—anonymously or not—to alert local police about such crimes and individuals involved.
The Coalition is available to assist anyone who shares this concern, with information and expertise. The organization may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statewide Conferences and Annual Meetings
The Board of Directors of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites was sad to cancel the 2020 Maryland Cemetery Conference and the Coalition’s Annual Meeting due to the pandemic, which is the bad news. Our great news is that the 2021 Conference and Meeting will be held in historic Havre de Grace on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Be sure to mark your calendars!
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.
Official Statement: Historic Cemeteries Should be Protected and Preserved
BY NICHOLAS A. REDDING
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.
Source: Preservation Maryland
“Hood College students will study the area and will eventually turn into a peaceful park for the descendants’ families.”
by: Caroline Morse
Posted: Jun 24, 2020 / 11:07 PM EDT / Updated: Jun 25, 2020 / 07:18 PM EDT
“I just feel bad that people are buried here that were getting trampled over or lost by the overgrowth or forgotten about,” said Neighbor Elizabeth Paul. “That was even before I knew the historic significance.”
Halfway’s historic Colored Cemetery dates back to 1844 and laid to rest over 400 unmarked graves. Spanning over seven acres, Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria bought the land in 1897. But, as decades passed, the land was forgotten about, sold in the 1950’s and eventually developed into a neighborhood.
“It was very common for African-American cemeteries to have been built over or just abandoned in the past,” said Hood College History Professor Emilie Amt. “This one became a housing development but this little piece of half-an-acre or less was preserved for a while and then it was abandoned and neglected.”
In 2018, after working on a number of projects on previously unidentified burial grounds, MDOT SHA Chief Archaeologist Dr. Julie Schablitsky had the idea to create a mobile application that would allow volunteers passionate about cemetery preservation to use GIS and Cloud data storage technology to record the location and condition of burial grounds throughout the state. This data could then be shared responsibly with appropriate public and private entities to help protect and preserve both recorded and unrecorded burial grounds.
After years of design, testing, and extensive public feedback MDOT SHA Cemetery Inventory is live and undergoing its most extensive testing to date. Currently more than 150 volunteers have signed up to collect and upload data using the mobile web-based application, allowing archaeologists and GIS specialists at MDOT SHA to develop best practices to collect, vet, organize, and share the location, description, and photographs of Maryland burial grounds.
After an extensive round of testing and troubleshooting this summer, the app will eventually be made publicly available to individuals and groups interested in using it to help record and protect Maryland’s burial grounds. Information on how to participate in the future will be available on the CPMBS website.
Alexander D. Keim, PhD
MDOT SHA Archaeologist
We need your help documenting the current condition of cemeteries in Anne Arundel County. Anne Arundel has the largest number of known cemeteries in Maryland as well as the oldest known tombstones.
Up until the 20th century, it was common to establish a small family cemetery on private land. Unfortunately, unchecked development and vandalism has destroyed above ground traces of these important cultural resources. Small family cemeteries hold an important place in the fabric of our communities, and the names found on the headstones are often found as the names to nearby roads or geographic features. These cemeteries represent the resting place of those who made Anne Arundel County the place it is today. In order to preserve these cues to the past, and respect the last resting place of our ancestors, County regulations do not allow cemeteries to be moved from their original location. To find out more and to sign up, visit www.aacounty.org/cemeteries. [Download the flyer and share with your community]
Coalition member, Dennis Green, lends a hand and gets some hands-on experience extracting corroded pins from unstable gravestones!
This is one of the reasons that the Coalition does not encourage ‘quick fix’ techniques, methods, and materials for gravestone repair. This synthetic adhesive/epoxy, (Akeme) was applied 15 years ago according to oral reports. It had failed within the past five years and placed upon the base with the bottom fragment. Failure was contributed by water retention and UV intolerance and instability. Note the bright white areas of the marble stone which are soft and sugaring as a result of water and salts being trapped and moisture being retained. When synthetic adhesive materials fail, that take part of the masonry substrate with it and enhance as well as cause further damage which contradicts “Do no harm”. They also do not last as long, on average 20 years, but some are seeing less than 15 like this repair. Good intentions, but very costly not only in regards the fiscal cost to repair the stone again, but to the loss of some of the masonry substrate which could have been prevented. The Coalition advocates the consultation of actual, qualified, professionals and does not charge a fee to anyone that approaches the organization for guidance, assistance and support. All are welcome to attend our board meetings as well as correspond with any of our members both on and off the board. To avoid good-intentioned mistakes like this one, request a copy of the Coalitions Cemetery Stewardship Guide, it will explain in more detail the does and don’ts cemetery care and gravestone repair or simply post or submit and inquiry. There is no such a thing as a dumb and or stupid question. The Coalition to Protect Maryland Sites is here to support, advocate, educate, and help rehabilitate anything and everything that pertains to Maryland Cemeteries.
By ALISON KNEZEVICH and PAMELA WOOD
THE BALTIMORE SUN | MAR 25, 2019
A state senator said he would withdraw an obscure bill that sought to undo a 2013 Maryland Court of Appeals decision blocking development at a Pikesville cemetery.
Residents who years ago went to court to stop a housing proposal at Druid Ridge Cemetery had cried foul over the legislation, which was introduced late in the General Assembly session by a state senator from Montgomery County.
Community members questioned why Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, a Democrat who represents the Washington suburbs, would sponsor a bill affecting a piece of property in Baltimore County. They said the legislation re-opened a dispute they thought long settled.
David B. Shapiro, a former state delegate and now president of the Dumbarton Improvement Association, which represents a neighborhood near the cemetery, called the legislation “a last-minute bill that was slipped in.”
WBAL-TV 11 – Jennifer Franciotti, News Anchor, Reporter
CARROLL COUNTY, Md. —
In Carroll County, there’s a cemetery that people drive by every day and may not know its historic significance.
Ellsworth Cemetery was created in the 1800s, out of a need to serve the black community.
“We might not always be proud of our past, but we must remember it and honor what we have here,” said Audrey Cimino, executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County.
Along Route 140, next to WaWa in Westminster, is a piece of history that’s little known, even to those who have relatives buried here.
“I’ve been all up and down the streets and i didn’t even know that cemetery existed,” said Gen. Linda Singh.
David Anderson, FORBES Contributor
When new construction projects break ground across the United States, they regularly encounter archaeological materials. Those materials can represent the last surviving trace of the lives lived by the people who made them; and all too often, those materials turn out to be from cemeteries and burial grounds used by segregated and enslaved African American communities. These cemeteries typically went undocumented on local and state government maps and graves were often only marked ephemerally, thus making these spaces all but invisible in the present day.
In just the past year, construction projects and archaeological surveys have encountered numerous examples of undocumented African American burial grounds across the country. Archaeological testing encountered the remains of a 19th century African American burial ground in Philadelphia; construction crews in Fort Bend County, Texas, discovered nearly 100 unmarked graves of African American prison inmates believed to have been forced to work in sugar fields long after emancipation was declared; and, archaeologists working for the Maryland Department of Transportation uncovered a previously unknown slave cemetery in Crownsville, Maryland.
These are just a handful of examples of the many times in which the lives and eternal resting places of African Americans were “lost” to written history. The stories of their lives, however, have not been lost for good. With dedicated effort, archaeological and archival research can help to reclaim the past and fill in the gaps left in our history books.
Meetings are open to all members.
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.