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A local historian and a concerned neighbor lead effort to unravel Black cemetery’s history

Tamela Baker, The Herald-Mail
Published Feb. 18, 2022

HALFWAY (Washington County, MD) — For decades, the resting place of scores — perhaps hundreds — of Black residents lay overgrown and unnoticed as a residential neighborhood developed around it.

Those interred there include at least a dozen veterans, mostly from the Civil War, and leaders of Hagerstown’s Black community.

Some knew it was there, “but not very many people knew it was there,” said Hagerstown resident Emilie Amt, a retired professor of history at Hood College in Frederick, Md.

Although her specialty is medieval history, Amt started researching local Black history as part of a project involving her church, St. Mark’s Episcopal at Lappans.

“More than a decade ago, I started researching the Black members or the enslaved members of my church,” she said.

She took it on as a volunteer project, she said, even though she’d never researched African American history or slavery.

“And it just drew me in — it was such surprising and compelling information that I uncovered.”

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