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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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Planning commission recommends historic designation for Nanjemoy church cemetery

Maryland Independent – By Paul Lagasse, February 4, 2019

The Charles County Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend that the county commissioners approve a local historic landmark designation for a cemetery in Nanjemoy that dates back to the mid-19th century.

In December, the county Historic Preservation Commission determined that the cemetery of the Mt. Hope Baptist Church on Gilroy Road met the criteria outlined in the county’s zoning ordinance for sites of local historical and cultural significance, which requires that it have “character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or culture of the County, State, or Nation.”

Sea level rise imperils historic grave site on Eastern Shore of Maryland

If Joe Fehrer hadn’t stumbled across the grave site, it might never have been found. 

Flanked by an encroaching marsh, it sits a half mile walk from the nearest road through water that threatens to flow over the tops of mud boots. 

On a sunny Friday morning on the way to the site in the Robinson Neck preserve on Taylors Island, Fehrer tests the water depth with a well-worn staff. 

“This channel is too deep to cross,” he says, looping back to chart a new course.

His mission for the day was to measure and record information about a group of historic graves located inside the Nature Conservancy’s preserve in Dorchester County, Maryland.

Dating predominantly from the early 19th century, a cluster of family gravestones peaks out of the wooded ground at the edge of the marsh. 

Some are sunken but some still stand tall after a couple hundred years.

Last year he relocated the site.

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