Skip to content

African American Burial Societies in Maryland

With few options available in public cemeteries and the churchyards of largely white congregations, African Americans often turned to Mutual Beneficial societies for assistance with burials and funeral costs in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Burial grounds owned and operated by these societies is the subject of this talk by Anne Brockett, architectural historian with the DC Historic Preservation Office, where she assists homeowners, businesses, and government agencies to address preservation matters.  Having a special love for cemeteries, Anne recently produced the District’s context study on burying grounds and from 2004-9 was engaged in surveying all of Montgomery County’s cemeteries for a comprehensive inventory.

Historic Burial Sites of Prince George’s County, Maryland

This presentation will showcase a variety of historic cemeteries, including well-preserved private sites on historic plantations, orphaned family cemeteries now surrounded by development, protected and abandoned church graveyards, sites associated with black communities, complex stories of relocated burials, and unique vaults and sculptures.  For 30 years Susan Pearl was research historian for M-NCPPC, conducting field surveys and documentary research on more than 500 historic buildings and communities in Prince George’s County, and authoring publications on aspects of County history, architecture, and archaeology.  She currently researches, lectures, and writes about local historical topics.

The Bowie Family Cemetery at Fairview

In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Bowie family cemetery, 15-minutes east of Greenbelt.  This is the private resting place of at least 25 members of the family of Oden Bowie (1826-94; Governor 1869-72).  Visible from here is Fairview, the early 19th century. Bowie plantation house; the house and cemetery are surrounded by the Rouse residential development, Fairwood, but are preserved in a 10-acre setting.  The cemetery is maintained by nearby Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, and the house is privately owned.

Back To Top