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St. Mary’s County, established 1637, county seat Leonardtown.

News from the County:

An update to the book “Burials From Tombstones, Grave Markers, and Church Registries of St. Mary’s County, Maryland (1634-1994)” by Janet Tice is now fore sale.

Shelly Johnson completed a project to update the major cemeteries in St. Mary’s County for the period 1994 to July 2007. The book is available for purchase at Updated Index to St Mary’s County, MD Cemeteries 1994-July 2007 for $30.50.

John Wesley Chapel and Graveyard

We invite you to visit the web site for the Property Owners of Wicomico Shores Association, Inc. This civic association has done extensive research about John Wesley Chapel and Graveyard located within Wicomico Shores and reported their findings on these pages. In addition to the research on the history of the Methodist Chapel and Graveyard there are extensive photographs detailing the abundant overgrowth and the general air of abandonment of the site.

The POWSA is concerned that the site of the John Wesley Chapel and Graveyard is adjacent to and possibly on land currently being considered for development of homes and retirement condominiums. Continue to watch this page for developments of the preservation and protection of this historical site.

St. Nicholas Cemetery, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, 2003

On September 11, 2003, Scott Lawrence visited the Coalition’s website and signed our guest book. His note indicated that he is diligently working to restore the desecrated cemetery at St. Nicholas Church, Patuxent River, Maryland. He provided links for two websites and a link to an article that appeared in the Washington Post on August 3, 2003 entitled “Bringing a Cemetery Back to Life, Air Station Site May Be Archaeological Dig” by Ernesto Londoño.

A couple of years ago Scott Lawrence, age 40, of Great Mills learned that his ancestors were buried in the St. Nicholas Cemetery near the chapel at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Scott questioned the accuracy of the information considering there was no cemetery there that he could see.

The Navy had built Patuxent River Naval Air Station in the early 40s. Existing on the land was St. Nicholas Church and its cemetery. The Navy decided to lay down all the tombstones in the cemetery and to cover them with dirt [1943]. The decision was made because it was believed that military personnel would be demoralized seeing the cemetery upon entering the installation, considering the United States was in the throes of World War II.

Lawrence contacted base officials and was provided a list of the 320 people interred at St. Nicholas along with a map of the burial ground. Lawrence researched the records of St. Michael’s parish and Holy Face parish, also in St. Mary’s County, and determined that 264 graves were not listed on the Navy’s map and list.

Scott Lawrence has received preliminary permission from the Navy to “resurrect” the cemetery. Considering the land is on Federal property there are a number of laws that will direct how the project should proceed. When Lawrence receives the final go ahead, “the first step will be to map out the site once more, this time with ground-penetrating radar, a device used by archaeologists to identify buried items. After that, the archaeologist would dig up the markers, clean and catalog them before mounting them again at individual grave sites.”

The biggest question facing the project is how many of the buried tombstones will still have legible inscriptions? [ed. Note. Jeff and I were involved in groups that unearthed several stones that had been buried. We noticed that the inscriptions that were buried were protected from the environment and more legible than similar stones that had continuously been exposed to the elements. The stones at St. Nicholas were buried before acid rain became a serious problem. We predict that Mr. Lawrence will be pleased with the legibility of the writing once the stones are exposed and cleaned. What are your experiences?

Send us your thoughts on the subject or experiences in the field and we will print the responses in the next issue.]

For a listing of the burials your can visit

Article about Scott’s project:

UPDATE:  St. Nicholas Cemetery, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, March 2005

  • To date, 28 memorials have been repaired and re-erected on the site.
  • Phase III has been approved and allows for 20 more stones to be recovered and re-erected
  • Approximately 190 memorials remain to be discovered (that we know of.)
  • An anonymous donor sent a check for $10,000 to perform a GPR survey of the site. We hope to begin in April. This is going to be pretty thrilling as it will tell us exactly where the stones are, where all the burials are, and the location on the old buildings on the site.

This project is moving forward quickly. Sen. Roy Dyson has sponsored a bond bill in the Maryland General Assembly to be read this Saturday (March 19, 2005). If passed, this bill will allow for an $8000 grant toward the project. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Scott D. Lawrence

Helpful County Resources:

St. Mary’s County – Sailor, Maryland’s Public Information Network


St. Mary’s County Website


St. Mary’s County Public Library

23250 Hollywood Rd.
Leonardtown, MD

St. Mary’s County Newspaper Archive
The Beacon:  1852-1921 (Library of Congress); 1923-1984, with gaps
The Enterprise:  1952-3 months ago, with gaps
Microfilms located at Lexington Park Library location – Call 301-863-8188 x3.


St. Mary’s County Circuit Court

41605 Counthouse Drive
Leonardtown, MD 20650


St. Mary’s County Historical Society

41680 Tudor Place
Leonardtown, MD 20650


St. Mary’s County Genealogical Society

P. O. Box 1109
Leonardtown, MD 20650-1109

Local family histories, county and Maryland history, Census, cemetery records, marriage licenses, and county and Maryland death records.

These reference materials cannot be checked out, but can be used within the library. They are kept in locked cabinets. The key can be signed out at the checkout desk.


St. Mary’s County Geneaology


St. Mary’s County – MD Tombstone Transcription Project


St. Mary’s County Historical Preservation Commission – Cemetery Database Footnotes [PDF]

Maryland Historic Trust Inventory of Historic Properties in St. Mary’s County


Southern Maryland Studies Center


Southern Maryland Studies Center

Located in LaPlata, the SMSC is a central location for research on this historically important region. Students, historians, genealogists, and community members use SMSC’s resources to study the culture and development of Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and southern areas of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties.


St. Mary’s College Archives

The SMCM archives provide for the acquisition, organization, description, preservation, and availability of unique materials documenting the history of the school as well as the history of Southern Maryland, particularly St. Mary’s County.


St. Mary’s County Historic Preservation Commission


Research of Sotterley Plantation by Agnes Kane Callum

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