St. Mary’s Cemetery

The historic St. Mary’s Cemetery is located in Turf Valley Overlook between Ponte Vedra Ct., Pebble Beach Drive and The Concord Ct.  Cemetery Lane runs towards the cemetery from Old Frederick Rd/Rt. 144 across Rt. 40, into Turf Valley Overlook, though the visible portion of the road ends before Dunes Dr.

Several newspaper articles have been written about the cemetery over the years.  The historic sites mentioned in the article below are near TVO.  The Carroll’s Doughoregan Manor is located down Manor Lane off Old Frederick Rd across from Terra Maria neighborhood, and the St. Charles College ruins are in Terra Maria off Old Frederick Rd.

The Baltimore Sun – April 24, 1991

Decades-old cemetery threatened by development Howard graveyard may be sold off.

By Carl Schoettler, Evening Sun Staff

Joe German whacks his way with his cane through the brambles and dry brush toward his grandmother’s grave.

“I remember this graveyard was just like a lawn,” German says. He’s 83, hearty, well-preserved and still a bit countrified. He’s lived almost all his life in this little piece of Howard County near Ellicott City.

He’s stomping through St. Mary’s Cemetery, a Catholic burial ground now more than a century old. He’s prowled through the old cemetery since he was a boy. Today, St. Mary’s is overgrown with loose underbrush beneath a stand of poplar, walnut and a few locust.

St. Mary’s is also surrounded by the new and pricey homes of Turf Valley Overlook. It’s an isle of the dead among the living, a hint of the past of Howard County, a small reminder that life didn’t begin yesterday in the middle of a neighborhood that didn’t exist a few years ago.

Mary’s Cemetery received the dead from the families of workers and servants and former slaves on the manors of Howard County, Doughoregan and Pine Orchard, and from St. Charles College, the “minor” seminary of the Maryland archdiocese, which burned down in 1911.

The graveyard now is threatened by a developer who proposes building, or selling the land for building, homes on two parcels that enclose the “existing cemetery.” Neighbors — and German — say the two lots are also part of a much larger original burial ground and still contain graves.

The neighbors like the cemetery just fine the way it is. Twenty properties border the 3.21-acre plot and they say they were told it would remain forever undeveloped because of the cemetery.

hTC Banded together as Friends of St. Mary’s Cemetery and Preservation SocietyInc., opponents of development researched old church burial records, hired a lawyer, fired off letters to the county executive and the department of public works, and stymied work at the cemetery.

James M. Irvin, Howard county DPW director, said development of public improvements to the lots should be held up until all gravesites had been identified and relocated “in accordance with the requirements of state law and the deed restrictions.”

But Irvin later seemed to be contradicted by William R. Hymes, Howard state’s attorney, who could find no legal impediment to bulldozing the cemetery, and Marsha McLaughlin, head of the county planning department, who approved the developer’s proposal.

St. Mary’s Cemetery gets its name from the private chapel at Doughoregan, the ancestral home of the Carroll family. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence to die, is buried in the chapel. Masses are still held there.

German lives across U.S. 40 from Turf Valley Overlook on Cemetery Lane, an extension of the easement which led into the old cemetery where his kinfolk are buried.

 “I was born back here in a place . . . we called it ‘up in the woods,’ ” he says. “Gran’pap built the college.”

St. Charles College, that is.

“He maintained it after he built. He stayed there until the college burned down. They kept him 63 years and they wouldn’t let him be buried here. He wasn’t a Catholic. He was a Methodist.”

Gran’pap’s name was Joe German, too. He was a builder. His grandson’s still a Methodist. And he’s a stone mason who still works at his job. But usually not more than six hours a day anymore.

“My grandmother, she was Catholic,” German says. “She was from Switzerland, I think.”

He leads the way to her gravestone in the little cleared place he tries to keep neat.

Felice, beloved wife of Joseph German, the stone says. Died March 17, 1915. In the 57th year of her age. RIP.

With her are buried six of her children who died as infants.

“L.B.,” says German, reading off another stone, “that was my grandmother’s mother. Her name was Bruneau. That’s where she’s buried.”

And his brother who died in infancy is buried here somewhere, too.

“We keep this plot pretty much down, me and my cousin Charles [German],” German says. “We’ve got to get in here and take these briars out shortly, too.”

The German plot is in what is described as the existing cemetery in a surveyor’s plan submitted to the county health officer and planning and zoning. It’s a 145-by-160-foot plot dadoed into Lot 2 on the 3.2-acre site.

Lot 1, Lot 2, and the “existing cemetery” front on Cemetery Lane, which right now is cut off by a metal gate at one end and dead-ends in a lawn at the other.

Sandra Pezzoli, one of the neighbors, researched church records for the Friends of St. Mary’s at St. Louis Church, in Clarksville. St. Mary’s is a mission of St. Louis Church. Burials are documented in St. Louis’ Record of Interments in a variety of orotund Victorian script.

She found 143 burials recorded at St. Louis, one at St. Alphonsus in Woodstock and 22 undocumented burials. But only 48 tombstones (with 51 names) have been found. So 116 are unaccounted for. The Friends of St. Mary’s believe they may well be scattered throughout the whole plot.

The Baltimore Sun – July 12, 1992

Arrogant officials violate law, cemetery

By Barbara Sieg, For the Howard County Sun

Full article – http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-07-12/news/1992194159_1_mary-cemetery-arrogance-of-power-chapel

St. Mary’s Cemetery takes its name from St. Mary’s Chapel at Doughoregan Manor, home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and John Lee Carroll, governor of Maryland from 1876 to 1880.

The 167 people, both black and white Marylanders, children as well as adults, who the Catholic Church documents as being buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery throughout the 1800s and up until 1941, were the parishioners of St. Mary’s Chapel.

But the historical significance of St. Mary’s Cemetery is not the principal issue. What is important is that a graveyard, irrespective of its origin, regardless of whether many of its graves are marked with simple field stones or not marked at all — a graveyard has been raped and ravaged. How and why has this been allowed to happen?

The first dreadful act, particularly outrageous to Catholics, was the sale by the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore of the 3.2-acre cemetery in 1986-1987 to developer Don Reuwer for $10,000. It is a tragic and puzzling fact that the German family, which has many members buried at St. Mary’s, offered to buy the cemetery and take care of it; their offer was rejected.

Last week, the present developer of the cemetery, H. Allen Becker, indicated that because of the tempest that has been stirred up over the building of houses in the cemetery, he might be willing to stop work and sell out. The price tag is, of course, no longer $10,000. The reported cost to the relatives and the Friends of St. Mary’s Cemetery, who still want to own and preserve the cemetery, is now much higher — for a ravaged cemetery!

The Baltimore Sun – June 7, 1995

Neighbors want to save old cemetery

The state’s actions are intended to avoid a controversy similar to the one the county faced in 1992 with the St. Mary’s Cemetery on St. John’s Lane in Ellicott City.

In that case, the county approved a construction project over the warnings of Ellicott City residents about the presence of a historic graveyard — only to have remains unearthed during the excavation of sewer lines.

A year later, the county passed a cemetery preservation law that requires developers to preserve burial grounds as open space and halts development immediately when remains are discovered.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, who sponsored that legislation, said he will do what he can to determine if a there is a historic cemetery in Columbia Hills. “Based upon oral history, they say it’s there,” he said.

Barbara Sieg writing a book on St. Mary’s Cemetery and other local cemeteries

The Baltimore Sun – March 20, 2014

By Arthur Hirsch

Full article at – http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/bs-md-ho-cemeteries-preservation-20140320,0,5419966.story

“Unfortunately, we’re all mortal, but that’s why I want to write this book,” said Sieg, who does not yet have a publisher.

The book is one more thing she can do to get the word out about Maryland’s historic cemeteries, which she sees as threatened by both neglect and development. She expressed little confidence in the enforcement of state laws that protect the sites — some of which she helped to create — or in local officials’ willingness to protect burial grounds.

In 1992, as president of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, she joined the uproar when a developer building houses at Turf Valley Overlook in Ellicott City — with county approval — unearthed human remains in what had been St. Mary’s Cemetery. In an opinion article in The Baltimore Sun, she deplored the “arrogance” of public officials and said “a graveyard has been raped and ravaged.”

The remains were eventually reburied and the 3.2-acre cemetery, once owned by the Catholic Church, was rededicated. Sieg said the incident shook her confidence in county planning officials, who revoked a building permit on the site for another developer in the 1980s, then approved one years later.

Sieg’s chapter on that incident is tentatively called “A Day of Infamy in St. Mary’s Cemetery.”

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