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Cemetery preservation group aids Dorchester’s New Revived Church

[Watch the event on YouTube!]

TAYLORS ISLAND — Volunteers from around the region joined congregants of New Revived United Methodist Church on June 19 to restore its adjoining cemetery. The buzz of chainsaws blended the rumbling of a small excavator, as crews cut and removed timber, stumps and debris that had fallen on the resting places.

The effort was led by Eddie Dean, who operates the Lower Shore Cemetery Preservation Organization, a group that has been active in finding some of the more obscure — sometimes simply hidden — grave sites in the Dorchester, and giving them the care Mr. Dean and his associates believe they deserve.

Asked why the strenuous and time-consuming work is done, Mr. Dean paused for a moment before saying, “How couldn’t you?”

On a mission

The group’s social media site describes its work, saying, “The focus of this organization is the conservation and preservation of historic cemeteries on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. Advocacy through outreach promoting education in restoration and documentation of these sacred burial grounds.”

That sense of mission has taken Mr. Dean throughout the region. Sometimes, it leads to graveyards like New Revived UMC’s, which are in relatively good shape, and at other times, to spots that are nearly invisible to the eye or almost lost in the records.

The cemeteries, with the few words and dates on the headstones, hold not only the remains of ancestors, but information on their lives and situations. Some are the simplest markers, made by pouring concrete into frames and tracing a name into the wet material.

Others share clues on the work done by the deceased, such as that of one of the Opher brothers in Hargis. His stone shows that he was a veteran of the Second World War, who served in the 3515 Quartermaster Truck Company.

A fallen tree or overgrown grass could hide the record of a serviceman’s time in the army, and eventually cause his contribution to be forgotten.

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Cemetery steward cleans up African American graves in Deale and looks to have its history recognized

By DONOVAN CONAWAY
CAPITAL GAZETTE | FEB 01, 2021

Elinor Thompson has started cleaning a cemetery in Deale where her in-laws’ family has ancestors buried and has been marking possible unmarked graves along the way.

Tanyard Cemetery, also known Franklin Cemetery, is an African American cemetery owned by Franklin United Methodist Church. Tombstones mark dates ranging from 1842 to 1982 and the site contains over 120 graves, many unmarked and many with hand-carved stones.

The property used to include two buildings, a place where cowhides were tanned and a meeting house that was one of the oldest Black Methodist gathering places in southern Anne Arundel County, said Thompson, the cemetery project manager and steward.

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Alexandria Chapel Cemetery Project

Alexandria Chapel began the onsite work of identifying unmarked graves on October 24, 2020. Special thanks to Alexandria Chapel volunteers, the District Superintendent of the Washington East District, Rev. Dr. Johnsie Cogman, the Charles County Planning and Growth Management Office, Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites and the African American Heritage Society of Charles County for their work on this project. There’s more work to be be done, but we are pleased to share this video created by the Charles County Planning and Growth Media Office.

Halfway’s Lost African-American Cemetery: The Story Unfolded

“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
https://www.localdvm.com/news/halfways-lost-african-american-cemetery-the-story-unfolded/

“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.”

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