Worcester County, established 1742, county seat Snow Hill.
News from the County:
Update on Carven Case – The Washington Post, November 6, 2001, Metro Section, reported that the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that Tom and Deborah Carven of Bishopville can sue the developer for not disclosing that their home was built on the site of an old graveyard. During the Court of Appeals’ proceeding neighbors of the developer testified that the graveyard on the Carven’s property had been an active site from the mid-1800s to the 1940s. There have been several articles in recent issues of the Courier regarding this lawsuit and a continuing update of the case as it progressed through the Courts.
The following information from the Post article caught our attention. In the matter heard by the Court of Appeals, the estate of Louis Hickman (the developer) argued that removing the gravestones was, “part of efforts to improve the land”. The Maryland Court of Appeals held that, “bulldozing tombstones could not be considered a land improvement.” It is gratifying to read that the Court of Appeals upholds the philosophies of the Coalition.
(Article appeared in the Coalition Courier, Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter 2000/2001)
CPMBS member Deborah Carven and her husband Tom of Bishopville have cheering news. The Worcester County couple recently won court approval to sue the developer’s estate, which sold them the land containing burials the developer never removed, according to the Daily Times of Salisbury (December 24, 2000).
Readers will recall Deborah discovered some 10 years after building her house that it was built on human remains. The developer, Louis J. Hickman, had bought and modified the lands including the Carven’s plot in the 1960s, and they allege that he had their land leveled and gravestones removed by the time they bought it is 1986.
Previously, a Worcester judge had ruled that too much time (beyond 20 years) had passed between the lawsuit and the “improvement” of the land. The Court of Special Appeals overturned that decision, saying that knocking over and throwing away headstones does not count as improvement. “This act hardly qualified as an improvement … It did not alter the status of the property, it merely concealed it,” wrote the Court judges.
Hopefully the Carvens will be able to pursue their fraud case successfully from here to strike a blow against such wanton disregard of both hallowed ground and of honesty and integrity. The Court summed it up beautifully, according to the Daily Times: “In 1986, appellants built their home on the lot in questions, and in 1995 they discovered that they were not the only ones who occupied it.”
Worcester Cemetery Mapping Project (Updated May 2022)
Helpful County Resources:
Worcester County – Sailor, Maryland’s Public Information Network
Worcester County Website
Worcester County Public Library
307 North Washington St.
Snow Hill, Maryland 21863
Worcester County Circuit Court
1 West Market St.
Snow Hill, MD 21863