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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.

GERHARDT PETER KRASKE (1938-2019)

Gerhardt Peter Kraske, the former president of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites Inc., died Nov. 28 from lymphoma at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Columbia resident was 81.

Born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Mr. Kraske was the youngest of eight children. His parents, Wilhelm Gustav Herman Kraske, a World War I veteran in France, and Clara Kraske, a homemaker and community worker, moved around frequently because of his father’s paper mill supervisory position.

The family eventually settled in Rumford, Maine, where Mr. Kraske graduated from Stephens High School in 1956.

Upon graduating from the University of Maine with an engineering science degree in 1961, Mr. Kraske was hired as an electrical engineer at Westinghouse in Baltimore. There, Mr. Kraske worked on radar systems, satellites and the B-1 bomber. By the time he retired in 2007, Westinghouse had been absorbed into Northrop Grumman Corp.

He met his eventual wife, Barbara Ann Manger, when he asked her to dance at the Cromwell Bridge Holiday Inn in 1966. That same year the two were married. The two had three children. “His friends were all intimidated by a pretty blond woman. He didn’t have any problem approaching her. That’s how the relationship got started,” said their son, Wolfgang Kraske. “They shared a lot of interests, including the Baltimore Colts. That became a common thread of interest.”

In addition to football, the couple shared many common interests, including the U.S. military, U.S. history, documentaries and books. The two would often spend anniversaries at battlefields and historic parks.

They visited Gettysburg a number of times, according to their son.

“History was an important thing to him and my mother,” he said. “She was a history teacher. He learned more about history from my mother. She was always more emotional about that. That’s why they got along.”

The two were also active members of the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, which repaired, reconstructed and landscaped George Washington’s home.

Mr. Kraske also was involved in the lives of his children, participating in Howard County Youth Program football and cheerleading. In addition, he was a booster for the Liberty Belles Drum and Baton Crops. Other activities included playing board games, hiking, sightseeing, bicycling and swimming in the family pool.

Mr. Kraske spent about two decades working with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites Inc. He was also very passionate about learning more about — and preserving — the history of Howard County, where he lived.

“He wanted to maintain the heritage of the area — the traditional historical areas of Howard County,” his son said. “They also would look in Western Maryland and Baltimore to understand more of my mother’s family tree. They didn’t get to do much in Wisconsin, where his family was from.”

In a Baltimore Sun article in 2008 about a resident’s attempt to protect a small, nearly forgotten cemetery in Columbia, Mr. Kraske was interviewed in his capacity as president of the coalition.

“Most people, unfortunately, don’t have a sense of history, but sometimes they get awakened,” he said. “I see a curiosity in people, but it’s been sort of a hands-off curiosity. They come to us like we’re a multi-million [dollar] nonprofit that can step in and take care of things. You can tell they’re waiting for us to step in.”

In addition to his wife, who lives in Columbia, and his son, who lives in Pasadena, Mr. Kraske is survived by a daughter, Kristin, who lives in Ellicott City; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Two viewings will be held Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Slack Funeral Home, P.A., 3871 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City. Funeral services will also be held at Slack Funeral Home at 1 p.m. Tuesday with visitation from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Interment will take place at Holy Trinity Cemetery.

BARBARA ELLEN BECKER SIEG  1936-2019

The Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites mourns the passing of our founder, Barbara Sieg, on October 24, 2019.  Early to recognize what she described as the Plight of Historic Burial Sites, Barbara tirelessly worked for more than a quarter-century to protect these endangered and often overlooked historic resources.  Determined to right a significant wrong, she became the Mother of cemetery protection in Maryland.

In the 1980s, as president of St. John’s Community Association in Ellicott City, Barbara learned that Whipps Cemetery, on St. John’s Lane in Howard County, was about to be lost… through indifference, lack of protection, and bulldozers.  She galvanized members of the Whipps family and neighborhood volunteers to clean up the site and call attention to what she described as a moral obligation to honor the resting places of those who came before us.

This experience encouraged Barbara to make contact with other cemetery advocates, initially Ed Taylor in Cumberland and later Jim Trader in Salisbury.  Meetings led to formation of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites in 1991 and to begin telling the Whipps story to state legislators.  Initial successes were stronger Maryland laws protecting the rights of descendants and banning desecration of burial sites.  She was also instrumental in convincing Howard County officials to create the first inventory of county cemeteries in the state.

As president of the Coalition, Barbara organized workshops, celebrated Family Remembrance Week, recognized advocates with Periwinkle Awards, and recruited volunteers in other jurisdictions to form partnerships with all age groups.  A Master Gardener, she brought in experts and willing volunteers to make Whipps Garden Cemetery a showcase of preservation and a center of learning.  Her training in Journalism helped her to write testimony, suggest ideas for new burial sites legislation, and articulate the passion that she held for her mission.

Barbara’s decades of work and solid successes earned her admirers, friends, colleagues, and awards.  Her legacy at Whipps Cemetery includes log-lined pathways and plantings of shrubs, trees and flowers, a woodland theater, a preserve for native plants, a place to appreciate history, and a site for community service work and education.  Ferociously protective of all burial sites, in later years Barbara continued to write letters, dispense advice, and work on a book to chronicle her life’s work.

Barbara Sieg’s legacy includes the Coalition Guide to Burial Site Stewardship and the Trader Foundation for Maryland Burial Sites.  Her passion, wisdom, leadership, and tenacity will be missed.

Remembrance

In the early very hot summer of 1991 I received a call from Western Maryland historian Al Feldstein informing me of a lady from Howard County working to protect Maryland burial sites. I made a call to this great lady, and she invited members of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization to attend the first of several meetings near Ellicott City at the Miller Library. Before the end of summer Barbara Sieg had founded the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites.

After one of the meetings that summer she gave our CHCO members a tour of her wonderful Whipps Cemetery. This historic site is well known to many Coalition members. Without Barbara, this cemetery would have been lost. I have been president of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization since 1983. Out of all the people I have ever known, I believe Barbara Sieg has done more to save Maryland cemeteries than any other person in state history. We will miss her so very much.

Several years ago Barbara and her husband John purchased one of our designed and protected grave monuments from the CHCO. The monument and her grave are located at St. Johns Cemetery near Ellicott City. After several attempts I was able to convince Barbara to please allow us to engrave on the monument a simple line about her founding the Coalition. She was a very humble Soul. What an honor it is for the CHCO to have one of our monuments on the grave of such a great lady, Marylander, and founder of our great Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites. We miss you and love you Barbara, and thank you for everything. May God bless her Soul.

Edward W. Taylor Jr. President
Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization Inc.

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

‘One of a kind’: Preservation Howard County President Fred Dorsey gets lifetime achievement award

Anyone arriving late to Preservation Howard County’s annual celebration would have heard Fred Dorsey praising the many community activists honored by the nonprofit over the years.

What they would have missed in the longtime president’s speech on Sept. 15 at Waverly Mansion was that he had just been surprised with a lifetime achievement award recognizing his role in preserving Howard County’s history and heritage to boisterous applause and a standing ovation.

Organizers had resorted to secrecy because they were convinced Dorsey, 82, would wriggle his way out of accepting the award otherwise, humbly deflecting credit to those he deemed more deserving.

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Anne Arundel County’s Citizen Preservation Stewardship Program

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]

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Learning in the Field

Coalition member, Dennis Green, lends a hand and gets some hands-on experience extracting corroded pins from unstable gravestones!

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Quick Fixes Do Not Fix

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.

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Maryland senator to withdraw bill that would allow development at Pikesville cemetery

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.”

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Historical African-American significance found in one local cemetery in Carroll County

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.

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New Legislation Seeks To Protect Lost African-American Burial Grounds

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.

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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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Events

Meetings are open to all members.

Grants

Applications for Trader Foundation Grants are Due on January 1, 2020

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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