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.
Ellsworth is a small, Civil War-era African-American cemetery created in the 1800s by six soldiers who came home, but had nowhere to be laid to rest.
“Colored people at that time were not permitted to be buried in the city limits of Westminster,” said Jean Lewis, president of the Carroll County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“There are about 200 people buried here. Most of the stones have been destroyed,” said Cimino.
Destroyed by vandalism, some by neglect, headstones unreadable or unmarked. Many broken and tossed some barley sticking out of the ground.
Tom Greul from the Knights of Columbus, along with his fellow Knights members began taking care of the property five years ago after seeing how the cemetery had fallen in disrepair.
“The grass was over 4 feet high,” said Greul.
They’ve put in new fencing and mulch to keep the grave markers visible.
“It’s really been a collaborative effort to maintain this site,” said Charles Kohler.
Among the oldest graves is a Stranger’s Row. Simply, it’s a place where people who have no other place to go can be buried. There are also new burial sites with mementos of love, but nothing permanent.
And there are 26 veterans here.
“Military services will give us headstones for the 26 veterans but we need to prove where they are on the property,” said Greul.
To do that, they need expensive ground-penetrating radar and help mapping the cemetery.
The ultimate goal to provide markers for every person buried in this Carroll County treasure, keeping their memories firmly in place.
A donation page has been set up to help pay for that ground-penetrating radar. You can find a link here.
The hope is to have the cemetery fully restored within five years.