Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Resurrecting Laurel Cemetery, a revised draft for comment and criticism

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" Resurrecting Baltimore's Laurel Cemetery

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone?[1]

Figure 01. This sculpture of a young maiden about to spread flowers once graced the Laurel Cemetery grave

of William Johnson (1844-1910), a prosperous Black coachman who remains may still lie under the blacktop or behind a retaining wall of a shopping center on Belair Road. All that survives is the base deposited at a remote site in Carroll County. Note that when Frank A. Miller photographed this monument in 1948, the hand holding a flower was already missing. Detail from Baltimore Evening Sun photograph, BCB-529-BS, published in the May 31, Evening Sun, p. 25

In 1895 Frederick Douglass died in Washington, D.C. His body was taken to Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York and laid to rest.[2] There in a bucolic setting he is remembered and visited, memorialized in a city where he had lived with his family for 25 years and where he published his newspaper, the mission of which was explained in the first issue:

It has long been our anxious wish to see, in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and negro-hating land, a printing-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression…that the man who has suffered the wrong is the man to demand redress,—that the man STRUCK is the man to CRY OUT—and that he who has endured the cruel pangs of Slavery is the man to advocate Liberty.[3]

Frederick Douglass’s life and contributions are well known and the cemetery where he rests is a prime example of the garden cemetery movement that began in New England and spread across the United States beginning in 1831 with Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[4]

Figure 02. Death Certificate of John W. Locks (1819-1884)

http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/item.aspx?ID=CM1132-23 certificate 73820

Eleven years before his death, Douglass traveled to Baltimore to attend the funeral of his friend from the days of slavery, a fellow caulker and member of the East Baltimore Mental Improvement Society that met at James Mingo’s frame house on Happy Alley in Fells Point. [5]

Mr. John W. Locks, a respected colored citizen of East Baltimore, died at his residence, 65 South Wolfe St., yesterday morning after a long and painful illness. The deceased was born in Baltimore, and after receiving a fair education learned the trade of ship-caulker. He gradually rose in his trade until he became foreman of the ship-yards of Charles W. Boose & Bros. and worked on the large ships in the days of the famous “Baltimore Clippers.” Since then he has been conducting a livery stable a few doors from his residence. For the past 12 years he has been president of the Chesapeake and Marine Railroad; he was also the first colored juryman in this State. He leaves a widow, his second wife, and two sons and one daughter. The funeral will take place on Monday afternoon from his residence, at which the Rev. L.J. Coppin, pastor of the Saratoga St. M.E. Church will officiate. Fred. Douglass was a warm friend of the deceased since his boyhood.

The Baltimore Morning Herald, 8 March 1884, pg. 4 col. 1)[6]

John W. Locks was buried in another bucolic setting, Laurel, a garden cemetery on Bel Air Road across from the garden estate of the late richest man in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins. Today Locks's grave is nowhere to be found, although what is known about him has been thoughtfully and ably written by a relative, Donna Hollie, a model for writing about the rest of those who were once interred at Laurel or whose bones remain there unmarked under the blacktop.

Figure 03. Deed to a plot in Laurel Cemetery, courtesy of the

Maryland State Archives,BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers A, Miscellaneous) 1838-1982, t53_5426-1/5

Laurel Cemetery was privately incorporated in 1852 intended for the use of the Free Black community of Baltimore City. By 1852 the Free Black community of Baltimore City had grown to nearly 26,000, of whom teachers, domestic servants, washerwomen, caulkers, liverymen, clergy, doctors, seamstresses, brick layers, masons, sailors and coachmen to name but a few of the occupations, saw the new cemetery as a place to be remembered, their graves cared for in perpetuity. They lived in a city in which slavery was legal, if declining, and which was dominated by 140,664 white citizens at a time when Free Blacks had only a few bare remnants of citizenship allowed them in the courts.[7] Despite the increasing restrictions placed upon where they could live, where they could travel, and what occupations they could fill, they continued to live lives of value and contributed in countless ways to the cultural growth and economic prosperity of the City. At the end of their lives they deserved the right to be remembered and appreciated for the lives they led.

While Mount Hope, and with it Frederick Douglass’s grave, remains a garden cemetery, owned and maintained by the city of Rochester, New York, the story of Laurel Cemetery on Belair Road would prove to be quite different. If, like Mount Hope, Laurel had begun as a municipal cemetery, it might have survived, but instead it was a private corporation that only whites could own, profit from, and dispose of as the law and the courts would permit. That was its undoing.

The creation of Laurel Cemetery on Belair Road was announced in the Baltimore Sun on August 18, 1851 and the opening ceremonies, following a postponement, were held in late October.[8] The three entrepreneurs who ventured their capital to purchase the land for an all Black equivalent of Greenmount Cemetery tested the response before they bought the land on September 1, 1851, and before they had enough investors to secure a charter from the State of Maryland. In the meantime they and their investors supported, and perhaps played a role in introducing the comprehensive legislation relating to charters that would prevent any charter for a similar cemetery being issued in the future to anyone other than white men.

Figure 04. Detail from the 1896 Atlas of Baltimore City, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Library

What prompted Frederick G. Hunt, Edward J. Richardson, and Silas M. Cochran to purchase the land across Belair Road from Johns Hopkins’s Clifton Estate from a canny but illiterate Baltimore County farmer and his wife is a matter of conjecture. There were already two cemeteries close by, Hebrew Cemetery (1830) and Baltimore Cemetery (1849). St. Vincents and Old Har-Sinai Cemetery would follow in 1853. The prospects of the Omnibus extending beyond Baltimore Cemetery, may have been a factor as well.

Figure 05. a Baltimore omnibus token, ca. 1851.

Frederick G. Hunt (1811-?) was a failed coal merchant with a wealthy father-in-law, Peter Fahnestock. Frederick went bankrupt in 1847, losing his newly built townhouse and by 1850 moved in with the Fahnestocks where he is identified as a soap manufacturer. Perhaps it was the death of his wife, Josebah Fahnestock Hunt, on August 5, 1849, that inspired him to try a new line of business focused on the Black community. As he sought to remember his wife in poetry, he looked to make a profit from creating a place where the Black community could bury and remember their own.

OBITUARY. -Departed this life on Sunday, the 5th instant, JOSEBAH G. HUNT consort of Frederick G. Hunt, and daughter of Peter Fahnestock, leaving a husband and three young children-one but two days old-with many relatives and friends to mourn their irreparable loss. The truly amiable and christian character of the deceased had bound to her in the strongest ties of love and friendship all who had the good fortune to become acquainted with her, and their grief is only mitigated by the knowledge that their loss is her eternal gain.

To scenes of sweet eternal bliss thou'st flown,

In the realms of peace in Heaven above;

And left a world of sorrow and of care,

To bathe thy soul in God's enduring love.

To worship at the Saviour's holy throne,

With thy sweet babes who have preceded thee;

To join in anthems of the angelic choir,

And to the great Eternal bow th knee,

Thy mourning husband, children, parents both,

And brothers, sisters, friends, their loss deplore;

But not as those who have no hope, they grieve,

Knowing thy gain to be for evermore.

Thy heavenly spirit will hover round

The little ones so cherished in thy love;

Thy Ellen, Fanny and Josebah guide

In the straight path to God and thee above.


By the time of his death in 1868 Edward J. Richardson (1803-1868) was a wealthy insurance agent who had begun business in Baltimore as a clothing merchant. How he came to be a partner with Frederick G. Hunt in the cemetery business is as yet unknown, but he had two Black domestic servants working in his household when he died, Elizabeth Lewis and Susan Winder, who may well have been buried in Laurel.

Perhaps the best known of the three men who created Laurel Cemetery was Silas Morris Cochran (1819-1866) who became a Unionist member of the Maryland Court of Appeals having defeated the secessionist chief judge, John C. LeGrand in the election of 1861. Judge Cochran was both a lawyer and inventor, having patented an improvement for the coupling of train cars. He was born in Windham, New Hampshire in 1819, and came to Baltimore in 1840 to study law with Z. Collins Lee, U. S. Attorney and Superior Court Judge. He entered the legal system of the State with his admission to the bar in 1843, at a time when it was the last bastion of equity for the Black Community, and he joined the ranks of those who advocated the abolition of the laws that sustained slavery and curtailed the civil liberties of the Black population of Maryland.[10]

While it is not known why all three decided to create Laurel Cemetery, they made one Baltimore farmer very happy in the process. In 1835 Thomas Burgan, Jr., bought the land that would become Laurel Cemetery for $915 and sold it to the three creators of Laurel Cemetery on the first of September, 1851 for $5,250 ($190,092.27 in 2022 dollars), 5.7 times what it had cost him. It is likely that the interest expressed in the project by the Black clergy and a white pastor at St. James, the Black Episcopal Church in Baltimore, plus the ability of a significant segment of the Black population who could afford the $2 for a family plot (plus burial and the cost of grave markers and monuments) was encouraging. Hunt and his associates were also undoubtedly inspired by the success of Greenmount Cemetery which opened in 1839 with the burial of two year old Olivia Cushing Whitridge, daughter of Dr. John Whitridge whose family had sold their estate on the north side of Belair Road just to the south of Burgan’s land for the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery.[11]

In August of 1851, two weeks before they finalized their purchase of the Burgan property, a glowing description of the proposed cemetery, “green home of future thousands,” appeared in the Baltimore Sun, perhaps planted there by the three speculators.

New City of the dead.-Laurel Cemetery in the title of a new resting place for the dead, situated near the north eastern suburbs of the city, and distant about 300 yards from the Baltimore Cemetery. The ground, which is situated upon a lovely and commanding eminence is admirably located for such a purpose, and is bounded on the south east by the Bel Air road. It will also have an additional front on the contemplated Northern avenue, thus rendering its accessibility unsurpassed. It contains 28 acres, and is capable of being divided into 12,000 commodious family lots, intersected with graveled walks, avenues and squares, all of which will be graded and laid off with strict reference to convenience, and picturesque effect.

One of the most important considerations in an enterprise of this character is the architectural improvements conducing to the safety of the dead, as well as the beauty and value of the grounds. The authorities have, therefore, determined upon the erection of a permanent and ornamental fence of style and general finish as to advance the appearance of the ground. Two gate-ways, one of which is ten feet wide, and another connected with the keepers lodge, reception room for the accommodation of visitors, &c., a chapel for burial service, and mausoleum, will constitute the prominent ornaments and conveniences of the new enterprise. These buildings have been designed by Mr. Beldon, an accomplished architect, and when finished will develop the most attractive and beautiful features of architecture.

The great want of such a place near Baltimore for the exclusive use of the colored population, for which it is solely intended, and which is increasing in this city, will doubtless soon render it the “green home of future thousands,” and a place of innocent and peaceful resort for that portion of the community. The office of the company is in Fayette Street, near Holliday, where the plans and designs are exhibited. [12]

Headlined a “New City of the Dead” Laurel Cemetery was to be 300 yards north on Bel Air Road from the Baltimore Cemetery on a lovely and commanding eminence. Besides the gates on Bel Air Road it was also to have an entrance on the proposed Northern avenue, today known as Edison Highway. The article claimed that Laurel consisted of 28 acres, enough for 12,000 grave sites, although the original purchase was for 17 acres, and only slightly more when properly surveyed. It was to be graded with graveled walks, avenues and squares designed to provide a “picturesque effect''.

The architectural improvements were to include an ornamental fence and a double gateway one of which was to be 10 feet wide, the other to be connected to a keeper’s lodge with a reception room for the accommodation of visitors, as well as a chapel for burial service and a mausoleum. Mr. Beldon, an “accomplished architect,” designed the buildings in the context of the beauty of the grounds.

Figure 06. JAMES BELDEN, Rural Architect, Landscape Gardener and Civil Engineer-Plans and Lays Off Public and Private Grounds, Cemeteries, parks, Pleasure Grounds and Gardens, and Designs Picturesque Villages, Villas, Cottages, &c. JARVIS BUILDING, corner of North and Baltimore Streets. (advertisement in the Baltimore Sun, March 27, 1858). Photograph of Belden’s grave and monument in the still extant Mt. Carmel Cemetery which he designed. Courtesy of Findagrave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8124103/james-belden

James Belden (1808-1877), who is buried not too far away in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, which he also designed, was well known for his cemetery plans. He never married and left his estate to the son of his deceased Black housekeeper, Priscilla Thomas, both of whose graves are unknown, but in all probability are among the lost graves of Laurel.[13]

Figure 07. Copy of the Emory family’s plat of the layout of Laurel Cemetery, ca. 1916, owned by D. H. Emory,

showing the vacant land to the East that would sold off for building row houses

courtesy of S. J. Martenet & Co., Inc.

The only surviving accurate to-scale layout of Laurel Cemetery by James Belden as of 1916, is in the Martenet Company Archives. Its boundaries and relationship to nearby estates and the housing developments that would make its demise predictable if not inevitable, is clear from the official map of Baltimore in 1940.

Figure 08. Detail from the 1940 official map of Baltimore City

author’s collection

The Hebrew Cemetery and St. Vincent’s Cemetery, which Johns Hopkins permitted to be carved out of Clifton for a good price in 1853, managed to resist the insatiable demand for new subdivisions and shopping centers, including widening and paving Belair Road. Laurel, on the other hand, ultimately succumbed to both, selling a corner for a gas station that survives today as a “Family Auto” used car lot, and a three acre slice of land in 1940 on Loney’s Lane (Edison Highway) for the construction of row houses sold with groundrents. From these sales only the owners of the cemetery benefited, not the lot holders. In 1938 the official acreage of the cemetery after the row houses were constructed on the land the Cemetery sold, was 15.194 acres as surveyed by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Bureau of Plans and Surveys, Baltimore City Archives.

Even before it had a charter Laurel cemetery was dedicated in an elaborate ceremony led by the most prominent Black clergymen of Baltimore including those representing Bethel and Sharp Street churches.


will take place on the grounds, a short distance beyond the Baltimore Cemetery,

on the Bel-Air road, on TOMORROW (Sunday) AFTERNOON, at 3 o’clock.

Voluntary, by the Sharp St. and Bethel Church Choirs.

Introductory Prayer by Rev. R. S. Killen.


Prayer, by Rev Samuel W. Chase.


Benediction, by Rev. Nathaniel Peck.

The COLORED PEOPLE OF BALTIMORE are respectfully invited to be present. By order of the Executive Committee of Laurel Cemetery.

Darius Stokes. | James H. Davis

Daniel Kobourn, | William Bishop

James Morris, |George A. Hackett

Cornelius Thomson, | Dr. Daniel A. Payne,

Samuel Wilson[14]

It was a stirling cast, most of whom would have plots at Laurel and would be buried there. Samuel Ward Chase, a prominent educator and preacher whose ministry extended as far as Portland, Maine and who led the delegation that presented a bible to President Lincoln, prayed for its success and was buried there in 1867. The story of his burial procession is typical of the crowds who once came to Laurel to bury their admired dead:

The Rev. Samuel W. Chase, who died at his residence, N0. 81 Leadenhall Street, on Wednesday last, was a Presbyterian minister, and had charge of a congregation in Baltimore. He was 67 years old [sic] and a past Grand Master of the colored Masonic Order and a high official in the colored Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The funeral ceremonies took place yesterday, March 31, 1867, at his late residence, and was numerously attended by nearly all the colored ministers of Baltimore, with portions of their flock. After the service at the house, a procession formed by the colored Masons and the Odd Fellows, who turned out in large numbers, in full regalia, to pay the last mark of respect to their deceased brother. Following them, were about 100 carriages, filled mainly with colored women. The procession proceeded to Laurel Cemetery, where the interment took place, according to the rites of the orders to which they belonged.

In his lifetime, he had a high reputation among his colored brethren and enjoyed the confidence of many white persons. The sidewalks of the streets, through which the procession passed, were lined with colored people, many of the male portion joined the procession, while numbers of women, also followed to the place of interment.[15]

Not all those who were buried in Laurel were well known, prominent citizens. Yet they were given decent burials with appropriate ceremonies and a crowd of mourners. Take for example the orphans at the Johns Hopkins Orphan Asylum. The Asylum had a plot in Laurel where ‘inmates’ as they were noted on the census, were buried.

Figure 09. Death Certificate of Theresa M. Cornish, Orphan from the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/item.aspx?ID=CM1132-110, certificate C46105

On a warm summer’s day in August 1911, Theresa M. Cornish, age 7, died of tuberculosis at Bayview Hospital where she had been taken from the Johns Hopkins Orphan Asylum, near what today is the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University. Her white casket with handles and plate cost $17, while transportation to her Laurel grave in a hearse followed by 2 hacks filled with mourners, came to $18.00. [16]

In January 1852 the Maryland Legislature revised the laws governing charters including those for cemeteries, permitting only white males to incorporate for the purposes of burying the dead.[17] To promote the Cemetery, even though it had not yet received its charter, Hunt on behalf of the owners “with a generosity unequaled” presented the family of Joseph Cephas with a free lot “in their beautiful ground[s].” Cephas had drowned while “heroically”attempting to save the life of a ‘lad’ at Frederick Street Dock. A number of prominent Black clergy officiated including Reverend Samuel Chase and and Reverend Darius Stokes presided at the mausoleum on the part of a number of associations who had followed the hearse to the cemetery including the United Division of the Sons of Temperance and the United Brethren.[18]

The following June 26th, a charter was issued to the Laurel Cemetery Company, consisting of the three original purchasers of the land, Robert C. Galbraith, J. N. McJilton (whte pastor of St. James Episcopal), Dr. Thomas Owings, and George W. Ziegler. The capital stock was three thousand shares worth $25.00 each, and was divided among the named incorporators who purchased them on time. The shareholders elected Frederick G. Hunt as president with offices at 10 West Fayette Street and hired Frederick Sturgeon as superintendent. On July 21, 1852 Frederick G. Hunt announced the incorporation of Laurel Cemetery. The principal avenues were graded and planted with shade trees. The mausoleum was finished and ready for the reception of bodies. The rest of the improvements were ongoing. The lots were a standard size, 8 feet by 10 feet, available at “a very moderate price, depending chiefly upon the location, a number of which have already been sold.” Hunt appealed to the stockholders to pay at once what they owed on their installment purchase of shares in order to pay for the improvements. In order to show off the cemetery, an Omnibus was ready in a few days to take prospective buyers out to see for themselves.


THIS COMPANY having obtained a Charter under the General Act of Incorporation passed at the, 1ate session of the Legislature of Maryland, is now fully prepared to dispose of Lots to all who wish to secure a permanent resting place in this beautiful abode of the dead.

The Cemetery is handsomely located, and enlists the admiration. of all who have visited the grounds — The principal Avenues are already graded, and planted with Shade Trees; the mausoleum finished and ready for the reception of bodies. The remaining improvements are going on and when completed will present a very handsome and inviting appearance.

The lots are 8 by 10 feet in size, and can be obtained at a very moderate price, depending chiefly upon the location, a number of which have already been sold.

Those who have taken stock are requested and expected to pay at once the installment due on their respective shares, as it is the intention of the company to progress with the improvements as fast as possible.

The office of the Company is located at No. 10 FAYETTE ST., opposite Holliday, where all necessary information can be obtained, and from which place an omnibus will, in a few days, run to the Cemetery grounds, affording all who wish to purchase lots, every facility in making their selection.

F. G. HUNT, President,

Office No. 10 WEST FAYETTE ST., opposite Holliday street.[19]

To promote the cemetery in 1852 a lot and tombstone were given for the burial of Joseph Cephas who had given his life in an attempt to save a drowning child. The President and Directors put on an impressive ceremony with the Reverend Darius Stokes of Bethel presiding.

THE LATE JOSEPH CEPHAS. – It has seldom been our lot to record a more united mark of respect than was paid to the body of this unfortunate man, who met his death under such distressing and melancholy circumstances. At an early hour on Sunday afternoon, hundreds were seen wending their way towards the residence of the deceased, in order to join in the solemn procession, which soon increased to thousands At 1/4 past 3 o'clock the various Temperance Associations reached the place, and presented, both in numbers end dress, the most imposing sight it has ever been our lot to witness. The officiating clergymen, Messrs. Scott, Jordon and Harden, on the part of the family of the deceased, and the Rev. S. W. Chase and D. Stokes on the part of the various associations. met, the former going through the solemn rites of the Church, in the presence of the family and friends of the deceased. The Rev. S. W. Chase then addressed the various associations and the crowded auditory in a short, but eloquent eulogium on the life, character and death of the deceased Brother, in a manner not soon to be forgotten. The line of procession was then formed. in the following manner: 1st. United Division of the Sons of Temperance. 2d. The Clergy, Hearse and family of the deceased. 3d. The United Order of Good Samaritans. numbering seven Associations. 4th. The friends of the family. 5th. A community of gentlemen, comprising the late employers of the deceased and their friends. all mingling in one common mass, to testify their high regard of one who, on his bier, lay covered with the mantle of glory.

Arriving at the ground, his body was conveyed to the vault, when other rites were performed according to the usages of the associations who honored the occasion with their presence. The Rev. D. Stokes addressed the audience. taking for his theme the piercing language of David, on the occasion, of the Death of Abner—"Know ye not, that a Prince and a great Man hath fallen in Israel this day."—describing the graphic scene in a manner that caused the manly tear to flow from many a feeling face. His graphic description of the Weeping Mother with her piercing wail—

Good God, she cries, with accents wild,

Who in this crowd. will save my child

The manner of the deceased in daring to peril life itself, disputing a while the prize with death, was delivered, and received in a manner it has seldom been our good fortune to listen unto. The President and Directors of the Laurel Cemetery, with a generosity unequaled, presented to the family of the deceased a lot in their beautiful ground, for the repose of the body. when the proper season shall have arrived for its final interment.

Figure 14. Baltimore Sun, February 4, 1852[20]

In the beginning, despite the good publicity and the efforts of the Black clergy, Laurel Cemetery did not prove to be as remunerative as its white shareholders had hoped. The press continued to tout its virtues, but the bills for constructing the necessary buildings and preparations of the grounds of the cemetery were slow in being paid. One builder even had to sue for payment, but by 1858 the debts were paid and the majority of the 1300 shares were sold anew to the Emory family who would remain the recipients of the profits for next sixty years.[21] By December 1852 with the Emory's in control, the Laurel Cemetery Company for the Colored People of Baltimore advertised that it was the only regularly chartered corporation of its kind in the city. “The grounds are eligibly situated, high and undulating, laid off with gravel walks, decorated with varieties of trees and shrubbery, and are perpetually dedicated to burial purposes. The company are entirely out of debt, and offer to sell Lots and prepare Graves for burials at reasonable rates. All who procure burials here are sure of an undisturbed resting place for all time to come”.[22]

When the Civil War came and finally Black troops were recruited to the effect of salvaging the Union and the abolishment of slavery, their dead from the battlefields of Virginia and from the hospitals in Baltimore were buried in Laurel. By 1868 Laurel was a National Cemetery for Black soldiers with separate plots of their own purchased and maintained by the War Department.[23]

Figure 10. Author’s image of the Laurel USCT graves in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, which are

in the same order with most of their original tombstones as they were laid out at Laurel.

Not all Black soldiers from Baltimore were buried in government owned plots at Laurel. Some such as Alfred W. Handy and Charles Giles were buried in family graves or their own separate plots in Laurel. Handy’s grave and its monument would disappear with the conversion of the cemetery to a shopping center, and Giles’s monument would survive in pieces in Carroll county, but the graves of the other soldiers buried there by the Federal Government survived intact in neat rows at Loudon Park cemetery on the west side of the city with their original gravestones and in the order they were buried in Laurel. They were moved to Loudon Park following a civil disturbance at Laurel in 1880.

Figure 11. William M. Smith, "Officers 4th U.S. Colo[r]ed Infantry, Fort Slocum," April 1865

Medal of Honor winner Benjamin Fleetwood with two fellow Black Sergeants,

possibly Charles Giles and Alfred W. Handy

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, https://lccn.loc.gov/93505852

Alfred Ward Handy had been Benjamin Fleetwood’s best friend and co-founder of a literary magazine before the Civil War.[24] Fleetwood was awarded the medal of honor for his part in the war, while Alfred Ward Handy became a political activist for the Republican Party in Baltimore, dying in 1874. His funeral procession to Laurel was attended by a large crowd of onlookers, some of whom were more interested in spreading the wealth than celebrating the dead. As the Der Deutsche Correspondent, Baltimore’s German language newspaper reported, “three Blacks, John Simpson, Charles Feeman, and Harry Hooper” were arrested by the police for pickpocketing. Bail was set at a steep $500. Agnes Walker of no. 14 Etna Lane testified that while the “funeral of the colored man A. Ward Handy was in progress, she felt a hand in her pocket and recognized one of the wallets retrieved from the cesspool of the “Grant-Colfax House” as her own, still containing a few small silver coins”.[25]

Handy’s obituary received only a brief paragraph in the Baltimore Sun that he was “a Well-Known Colored Man--A Ward Handy, a colored man employed in the custom house, and who was well known in politics throughout the State … His funeral which took place from his dwelling, no. 38 Frederick Street, yesterday, was very largely attended. Several colored masonic and other orders of which the deceased had been a member accompanied the funeral in procession to the graveyard, where an address was made by Rev. Mr. Watkins of Bethel Church”.[26]

Figure 12. The Lyceum Observer edited by Alfred Ward Handy and Benjamin Fleetwood

before they joined the 4th United States Colored Troops

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Alfred W. Handy’s mother, Ann Hutchins Handy, buried him in the family plot she bought for her family and at the age of 75, in 1875, was buried there as well. Her death certificate is among the earliest of the official records of burials at Laurel.[27] She had been a long time domestic servant in the household of one of Baltimore's wealthiest women who had given her a house rent free where she and Alfred had lived until they died. The day Ann Hutchins Handy died and was buried in Laurel, the house and the keys were taken back by the white family member who inherited it subject to Ann Hutchins Handy’s life estate, and immediately leased it to a Charles Castor, a Black mariner who subsequently was charged with disturbing the peace of the neighborhood.[28] Neither Ann Hutchins Handy’s grave nor that of Alfred Ward Handy has survived. All that remains is Ann Hutchin Handy’s death certificate and fragments of her life’s history recorded among the privately owned papers of her employer and probate records.[29]

After the Civil War, Laurel Cemetery became the scene of community remembrance on “Colored Soldiers’ Memorial Day” and of strident calls for improving the lot of the Black Community. In June, 1874 during ceremonies at Laurel attended by thousands, John Langston, acting President of Howard University and great uncle of the poet Langston Hughes, gave a rousing oration at Laurel Cemetery at Alfred Ward Handy’s grave, calling for equal rights and parity in all things with the “inflated white man”.

Colored Soldiers’ Memorial Day.

CEREMONIES AT LAUREL CEMETERY—ORATION OF JOHN M. LANGSTON—CIVIL RIGHTS AND EQUALITY WITH “THE INFLATED WHITE MAN.” [Reported for the Baltimore Sun.] Yesterday was, in a great degree, a holiday with the colored people, Lincoln Post, No. 7, Of the Grand Army of the Republic, having set apart the day for memorial services in honor of the memory of the colored soldiers and sailors interred at Laurel Cemetery, on the Belair road, a short distance beyond the city limits, As early as 10 o'clock in the morning a great any colored people, chiefly women and girls, repaired to the cemetery and remained until the graves had been strewn with flowers. It was estimated that not less than eight thousand people were in the cemetery during the formal ceremonies.

ORATION BY PROF. LANGSTON. John C. Portia introduced to the assembly Prof. John M. Langston, acting president of Howard University, Washington, D. C. The professor, who is an eloquent and fluent speaker, spoke of the occasion that had called so many men and women from their household duties to gather at the city of the dead and at the graves of men who had died struggling to perpetuate American liberty, this glorious Union, and to sustain American law against the most gigantic rebellion the world ever saw. What, he asked, does it mean that colored men and women turn aside from their work and come into the presence of those who have died and are here buried? It must be that we have a special interest in the life and death of those who represent the colored regiments that early in the struggle went out without promise of reward to die for the American government. We are to feel that our brave dead comrades went out in 1862, clad in the uniform of the United States, to represent colored men and struggle for the welfare of the colored race. We are not to forget that we are American citizens, and that the dead men here lived as American citizens and died soldiers. We come then mindful of the fact that we are more than colored men, that we are American Citizens, and that our dead now sleeping be-neath those mounds went forth to battle with the consciousness that their race hied been held in slavery for more than a hundred years. But through the smoke and roar of battle they knew that they were American. citizens, and we are here to-day to do honor to their memory. They died to perpetuate the most endearing interests of the American people. slavery had not so far deadened their manhood that they could not sacrifice their lives for the good of their country. We are equally proud of the white men who fought for their country. and if there were any of their graves here we would divide our floral offerings equally among black and white, thanking God that while the black man WAS tine to his country, the white man was net less true also. Today we enjoy all the immunities that attach themselves to American citizenship. We stand upon the soil of a country that is our country, inside the enclosure of citizenship that makes no respecter of color. We are full of patriotism, love, deep, constant, wise and true for a land and government that is mire. Our comrades in those graves fought and died to give the negro a home, country, ballot and citizenship under a good, sound government, and should we not cover their graves with flowers? Yea, it should be our duty to plant and cultivate at their graves evergreens, that our children may learn of the heroism of those whose memories we today embalm in flowers.

Prof. Langston spoke much of the bravery of colored soldiers, and alluded to the troubles which had beset him in raising a regiment in Ohio when the first call was made for colored soldiers. He lavishly eulogized the soldiers buried at Laurel Cemetery. He also alluded to a speech made by himself in Nashville, Tennessee, on which occasion he was requested by Andrew Johnson to thank for him the colored soldiers who assisted in repulsing one of the desperate attacks of General Hood. Mr. Johnson's remark on that occasion to the orator was, "When I forget these men, may my God forget me."

Mr. Langston continuing, said: In the early history of this country the courage of. our race was demonstrated. The first man who gave up his life in the revolution was a mulatto, and he fell at Boston. Andrew Jackson immortalized his name by praising the negroes who had fought at New Orleans. In all the battles of this country, whenever the opportunity was presented, negroes had advanced to the music of "Hail Columbia." Now that the negro is free we meet and demonstrate to the world that we hold oar sacred honor to the maintenance of the laws of our country. We want the civil rights bill passed and enforced, and in the name of our dead soldiers we demand its passage. We demand that our wives and daughters shall ride in what vehicles they please, when and where they please, so long as they pay for the privilege. We demand that our children shall be admitted to the common schools of the country, and I want it shown to inflated white men that the colored man's blood is not inferior to the white man's blood. We demand in all States, that jury trial, according to the common law, shall be given to all classes in on- population. We demand the right of the negro to be tried by his equals, not by a white or colored jury, but by men without regard to color. e demand. in the name of our dead colored soldiers. that there be given to us complete and constant equality everywhere. Then we will exercise our judgment where we will go, when we will go. and how far we shall go, if we are able to bear the expense. When we pay for a sleeping berth in a Pullman car, we do not want to be shoved Into the Jim Crow car. When we pay for a room at the Arlington Hotel, we want to go there, and we want slavery abolished not only in Cuba and Porto Rico, but in every place on the continent. Let our institutions be broad and deep; let us be masters of liberty on this continent.

In the name of our brave dead we ask for equal rights. This conceded, we will enter upon life and do that which cultivates American citizenship and carry forward our government to a destiny. grand and magnificent. In conclusion the speaker said; "May God give to the people of all sections the largest protection, good order and happiness." Mr. Langston was frequently interrupted by bursts of applause, and three cheers were given him when he had concluded. [30]

After Langston's speech 300 graves were strewn with flowers.[31]

By 1880 the increasing pressure from the white community to suppress the Black Community and to deny equal access to education and military advancement led to a civil disturbance at Laurel which in turn led to the War Department removing the graves of the Black soldiers, except those in private plots, to Loudon Park Cemetery. As the Baltimore Sun reported on June 1, 1880, the usual crowd packed Decoration Day ceremonies were held at Laurel. The speaker of the day was Professor R. T. Greener who gave a stirring speech about the case of Cadet Whittaker who had been expelled from West Point because of ‘prejudice against his race’. While some denied it, the speech was followed by the first recorded race riot in Baltimore in which “Charles Morsell, colored, lost his life.” John H. Emory, one of the Trustees of the Cemetery called in the Baltimore County police, who in all probability shot Charles Morsell. Charles Morsell was buried at Laurel with great ceremony attended by a large crowd. In order to prevent such future assemblies, the War Department decided to move the Laurel National Cemetery graves of the USCT to Loudon Park to accompany White Union and Confederate dead, albeit in a segregated area of the cemetery.[32]

By 1918 the Emorys had lost control of Laurel Cemetery to speculators who cared little for maintenance and sought to maximize profits even if it meant selling off pieces of the cemetery. In October 1918 the flu epidemic hit Baltimore with a vengeance. Bodies piled up at Mt. Auburn on the west side of the city awaiting burial and the army was called in to fill a mass grave when city workmen refused.[33] There were no similar notices for Laurel, but flu victims were buried there as well. Among them was a British West Indian immigrant, Rachel Collins, who had come to Baltimore by way of the Danish West Indies when the islands were purchased by the United States. She died in October 1918 of the flu. She had been followed to America by her daughter, Mary Unella Penn who buried her at Laurel in a plot she purchased in November 1918. Mary Unella Penn lived to 1939, having married well twice, including to one of the most prominent chefs in Baltimore. In her dying days she wrote to her family about her illness “while I am in my sound mind”, asking that the children be kept together and that the family would “always tell [the children] about their mother so that they will never forget me.” In doing so she cautioned that she not be buried in the family plot at Laurel with her mother because Laurel Cemetery was no longer a place to visit. Instead She mentioned Mt. Auburn Cemetery as her choice, but the family decided to bury her in well kept Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Brooklyn, Maryland where her grave is still visited by the family.[34]

By 1918 the value of the stock in Laurel had declined sharply to $2.50 a share from its original $25.[35] The Emorys who held the majority of the stock died off and control of the cemetery passed to speculators who only cared for extracting as much income as they could from a cemetery that was facing strong competition from Mt. Auburn on the West side of the City. Initially Sharp Street and Bethel churches supported Laurel and the more affluent of their congregations were buried there along with their most prominent ministers. Sharp Street had had its own burial ground further South on Bel Air road prior to the creation of Laurel. After the Civil War when Mt. Auburn Cemetery was created on the West side of the city, the church sold the burial ground to developers, paying to have the graves moved both to Mt. Auburn and Laurel, but the majority of new burials of the more affluent Black citizens went to Mt. Auburn

In 1911 the cemetery lost its gate house, the imposing entrance to what had been intended to be a garden spot of eternal rest. It was destroyed by the expansion of Bel Air road.

Figure 13. official City Plat indicating the new path of Belair Road and the impending destruction of the Laurel Cemetery Gatehouse, 1911,

courtesy of www.martenet.com, sjm 10-72154, EVC 1653, Bel Air Road opening from North Avenue to 1888 City Boundary

The Emory owners profited mightily from the demolition of the gatehouse, receiving $10,000 from the city and plowing a portion of the income into a large reception building built by the family architectural firm of Emory & Nasser.

The expansion of Bel Air Road proved to be only a temporary boon for the cemetery owners. In 1915 a fire engulfed the Chapel in the middle of the graveyard and the Fire department had great difficulty reaching it. “When the engines finally did get to the chapel, it was found that noose was long enough to carry water from the nearest plug,a considerable distance away, so the fire was put out with chemicals”.[36] With the expansion of Bel Air Road, came a road tax that the new owners, successors to the Emorys, failed to pay and which almost cost them their charter.

By the time of the burial of a prominent minister and Civil Rights activist, Reverend Harvey Johnson, in 1923, the Cemetery was beginning its steep decline with the grounds increasingly unkempt. In the photograph of the ceremonies at the unveiling of the monument to Reverend Johnson and his wife, Amelia, an accomplished author and writer, the deteriorating condition of the cemetery grounds is noticeable.[37] The manager of the cemetery, Charles Giles' son John, and the Afro-American attempted to defend the appearance of the grounds. The first reports in the Afro announced that the cemetery was in a deplorable state. “The gates were left open at night and cattle were allowed to roam at will over the graves, knocking down tombstones and devastating the lots. Shortly after the article appeared John Giles responded by blaming the lot owners claiming that lot owners fail to pay the maintenance fees and only visit when they bury relatives, while the Afro sent a reporter to inspect who found that it was in a “fairly good condition except for the northern end where weeds and brambles are overgrowing some of the lots. Here and there a stone was overturned and in a few instances the iron railings surrounding the lots had either fallen down or had been torn down”.[38]

To remain somewhat profitable to the stockholders, portions were sold off to developers. A controversial gas station was built on a corner of the lot adjoining the entrance on Bel Air road, and the western edge of the cemetery was sold for the building of row houses. [39]

On February3,1945, the Afro-American in its final local edition (not in its National edition) by Harvey T. Wilson that captured the decay. Headlined “Once Elegant burial Place Used as Dump”, Wilson wrote:

Wild, on a windswept hill covering many acres, lies the most miserable excuse for a graveyard my eyes have ever seen. It is the once elegant Laurel Cemetery, which the ravages of time and the shortness of people’s memory have reduced to a positive disgrace. …One Marble shaft had this to say, “Mother we’ll never forget.” Perhaps they didn’t forget! Perhaps they, too, were now beneath my feet. [40]

Accompanying Wilson’s article was a photograph that highlighted the maiden dropping flowers on William Johnson’s grave with the hand and flower apparently intact. Three years later the hand and flower would be gone and in 1958 the maiden disappeared altogether.

The last 35 years of Laurel Cemetery on Belair Road ( 1923-1958) are years of abuse and decay coupled with what today might be considered criminal intrigue by City employees to obliterate the cemetery and sell it for development at a great profit. At minimum it is a story of plot owner neglect, racial exploitation, and general disrespect of the dead as well as the living. Owners of plots refused or were unable to pay an assessment by the cemetery owners for upkeep and the ownership had fallen into the hands of a few unscrupulous investors, one of whom in 1945 told Wilson he was eager to sell it at a “very attractive price” having at one point obtained a $50,000 loan on the property.

In 1958, the saga of connivance, collusion, and deceit by public employees who purchased the property at an engineered tax sale was laid out in the pages of the Evening Sun and a futile effort was made in the courts to prevent its destruction and abandonment as a cemetery.[41] About all the court case accomplished was the transfer of surviving tombstones and monuments, many damaged or lost in the move, plus a few bodies to a remote site in Carroll County.

Figure 14. Carroll County: placing major monuments from Laurel Cemetery, 1958

East side of the central dirt road

Row 15-01 William E., Maria, and John Mathews

Row 11-01 James, Elizabeth, Mary J., and Hanna Jones[42]

Row 7-01 Carrie Weaver

Row 6-01 Reverend Harvey Johnson, Amelia Johnson, and Ellen Hall

Row 5-01 Charles H. Giles

Row 4-01 Joseph Thomas

Image courtesy of the AFRO American Newspapers Archives

The major monuments still intact at the time the Maryland Courts approved the removal of the cemetery and permitted the development of the land as a community shopping center wedged between two row house developments, were moved to a new site in rural Carroll county. There they headed neat rows of decipherable and indecipherable gravestones radiating out from a central dirt road.

Figure 15. Courtesy of Payne Theological Seminary, Reverdy C. Ransom Memorial Library and author’s photograph of Mt.Zion Cemetery location of Bishop Payne’s and Wayman’s monuments. Note that new plinths were added to replace

those destroyed in their initial move to Carroll County.

Not all the surviving monuments from Laurel made it to, or remained in, Carroll County. Two of the most prominent Black ministers who promoted burials at Laurel and presided over ceremonies there were Bishops Daniel Alexander Payne and Alexander Walker Wayman. Ultimately their monuments were cast against an outer fence of Mt. Zion Cemetery in Lansdowne, Maryland.[43] It is not known if their remains accompanied them. Their placement at Mt. Zion was a far cry from what had been accorded Bishop Payne’s monument when it was dedicated at Laurel Cemetery in 1894 and at which Frederick Douglass spoke.

Monument to Bishop Payne. A monument to Daniel Alexander Payne, senior bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. was unveiled yesterday afternoon in Laurel Cemetery, Belair road, Baltimore.

The monument is a shalt of white 'marble about eighteen feet high. On the pedestal is this inscription: "Bishop Daniel A. Payne, born February 24, 1811, at Charleston, S. C., died November 20, 1893, at Wilberforce, Ohio."

The money for the monument was raised by subscription among the colored people of this city and State at the suggestion of Bishop Wayman, of Baltimore.

The exercises attending the unveiling were witnessed by several hundred colored people. Bishop Wesley J. Gaines presided and Bishop H. M. Turner unveiled the monument. A choir from the different colored Methodist churches in Baltimore rendered music. Prayer was offered by Rev. J. H. Armstrong and the benediction pronounced by Rev. J. C. Allen, pastor of the First Colored Baptist Church, Baltimore.

Addresses were delivered by Rev. J. H. A. Johnson., Frederick Douglass and Rev. W. B. Derrick, of New York.

In the course of his remarks Frederick. Douglass said: "This is a day of no uncommon significance. We are gathered here to Pay tribute to the memory of a man whose labors in the cause of education have led us to victory. I came here wholly as a witness to the greatness of the character of Bishop Payne. He was a friend of the oppressed, and what we are today is in a large measure due to his work in our behalf. It was he who lighted the torch of education for our race. Through his efforts we have a ministry today that compares favorably with our more favored fellow-citizens."

Those who had the exercises in charge were Bishop Wayman, Revs. W. H. Hunter, of Virginia, W. H. Yeocum, of New Jersey, L. J. Coppin, of Philadelphia, J. N. Ross, Pittsburg, John Hurst and J. W. Bowser, the last named being chairman of the committee of arrangements.[44]

Even the monuments that remain in Carroll County are for the most part unconnected to the stories of the lives they were meant to celebrate and remember.

Examples are the stories of two individuals who were memorialized at Laurel Cemetery with two imposing monuments that in turn were moved to Carroll County, those of Charles Giles (Carroll County Row 5-01) and James Jones (Carroll County Row 11-01).[45]

Charles Giles was a comrade in arms of Benjamin Fleetwood and Alfred W. Handy in the 4th United States Colored Troops. Giles was hired about 1880 by the Emorys to superintend Laurel Cemetery, which he did for 30 years until his death in 1910 when he was to be succeeded by his son who presided over the persistent deterioration of the grounds.

James Jones was Johns Hopkins’s coachman who at the death of his employer in 1873, was left a house and $5,000 (the equivalent today of $118,215).[46] His monument was among the tallest in the cemetery, topped by a grecian urn (as seen in figure 23 , 11-01). It may even been visible from the tower at Clifton Mansion, as a reminder of his long-time service to the Emancipationist Johns Hopkins who gave the bulk of his fortune to care for the Black orphans of Baltimore, for a hospital open to all regardless of color, and a University that was supposed to occupy his garden estate.[47] Today the two monuments lay in ruins along a dirt path through an overgrown wooded lot between two housing developments in Carroll County.

Figure 16. Laurel Cemetery monuments and tombstones in Johnsville, Carroll County, Maryland.

Note the monument to Reverend Harvey and Amelia Johnson on the right


In the 1980s Alma Moore and Ralph Clayton launched a disciplined campaign to unearth and resurrect the names of those who were buried at Laurel, the preliminary results of which they published in the Flower of the Forest Black Genealogical Journal, 1984, volume 1, no. 3, 57-82. In 1991 Carl Schoettler wrote about their efforts in the Evening Sun, with an accompanying photograph of Alma seated in the searchroom of the Maryland State Archives indexing burials at Laurel from the death certificates.[48]

With the heightened public interest caused by the archaeological assessment of Laurel Cemetery of Ronald A. Castanzo, Elgin Klugh and the subsequent research of Isaac Shearn, Glenn Blackwell and a coterie of volunteers took up the work of mining the death records for Baltimore City in search of burials at Laurel. They continued even in the midst of a debilitating pandemic, thanks in part to the Maryland State Archives permitting the use of the death certificate records online.[49]

Because of the extensive and time consuming efforts of the volunteers culling the Death Certificatye records, it is now possible, not only to memorialize the dead of Laurel in a fitting tribute at the site of Laurel Cemetery, but also to document individually and collectively the lives of those who were buried there. It is not enough to remember the names or to mention them in passing for their appearance in the court records. It is not enough to simply mark their resistance to White domination, but to see those who were buried at Laurel Cemetery as three dimensional figures. It is essential that those who were buried there are remembered for their stories while living, assessing the contributions they made individually and collectively to Baltimore’s History.

Figure 17, Charity Govans death certificate, Maryland State Archives, Death Certificates, http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/item.aspx?ID=CM1132-10, Certificate 28377

Charity Govans (Goviens) is not just a name on a death certificate who launched a successful court application for a travel pass to Canada that was granted retrospectively. She was an accomplished artist who achieved the recognition she deserved in Toronto Canada but whose work was rejected by the Maryland Institute solely because she was Black. Yet she returned to Baltimore as a washerwoman to join her husband where they purchased a home, keeping her artwork on her walls to her death as a reminder of both her accomplishments, and also what might have been.[50]

The history of the efforts of those first generations of Baltimore Free Blacks and their children buried in Laurel Cemetery deserves to be written not only as statistics with the mention of the efforts of a few individuals who led the struggle for citizenship and equality, but as dignified, accomplished human beings in that struggle. They not only had a right to call themselves American, equal to any other, but also to recognition individually and collectively for helping make America the “golden door” of refuge for all who entered, however they came, in their yearning to breathe free.

Figure 18. Maryland State Archives, Death Certificate for William Johnson, http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/item.aspx?ID=CM1132-10, Certificate C29093

This essay began with the grave of William Johnson, distinguished coachman, who died in 1910. His funeral was reported in the Afro-American on January 22, 1910:

Death of Mr. wm. Johnson.

The funeral of Mr. Wm. Johnson who died at his home on Bradley Street near Myrtle avenue, on Tuesday of last week, took place from St. John A.M.E. Church, Friday afternoon last. The pastor, Rev. E. J. Gregg officiated. Interment in Laurel Cemetery.

The deceased was a prominent member of St. John church for over thirty years. He served as a steward for a number of years and was the oldest member in point of service on the Board of Trustees. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Sarah Johnson, a son, Wm. Johnson, jr., a daughter, Mrs. Fannie Chew, and six grandchildren.

All that remains of his grave and the weeping maiden casting followers over his grave, is the pedestal with his name and his age (66). The graceful sculpture of the maiden spreading flowers over his grave has disappeared.[51] His body may still be under the pavement of the shopping center that occupies the site of Laurel Cemetery, but there may be a surviving photograph of him staring directly at the camera challenging the world to recognize his worth and the dignity of his commanding presence in and about town.

Figure 19. Composite of closeups of the coachman hired to drive a coach along

the tree lined streets of Baltimore and Washington, D. C. to accompany a report on tree pruning.

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Project 2401


photo #2400-01-ph39 (left) and photo #2400-01-ph44 (right)

In 1909, a year before William Johnson died, the Baltimore City Park Board hired a coachman to assist Olmsted Brothers in determining how best to prune the trees along Baltimore’s streets.[52] The coachman they hired would have been about the age of William Johnson and the records of the Park Board may prove that it was. After photographing him by the trimmed trees of Mount Vernon and Mount Royal station, he was taken to Washington to prove that Georgetown did a poor job of choosing and pruning its trees. Fortunately the photographs were of high definition and a closeup of the coachman challenges all who see him not to forget him or the importance of his being. That is the point of the efforts to resurrect Laurel Cemetery on Bel Air Road virtually and in print. There is an obligation, a duty, to accurately and fully as possible, remember all who were buried there. It is owed to them and to our own well being.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Auburn_Cemetery. For a history of New England garden cemeteries see: Scee, Trudy Irene. Garden Cemeteries of New England. Down East Books, 2019. https://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=5837200

[6] See Locks, John W. (9 Aug. 1818–7 Mar. 1884) by Donna Tyler Hollie, Dr. Hollie is one of the volunteers extracting the Laurel Cemetery entries from the Baltimore City Death Certificates. https://doi.org/10.1093/acref/9780195301731.013.35810, Donna Hollie provided the transcripts of John W. Locks obituaries.

[7] Jones, Martha S. Birthright Citizens A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020

[8] Nancy Bramucci Sheads provides an excellent timeline of the history of Laurel Cemetery at: https://monumentalcity.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/laurel-cemetery/

[9] Obituary of Josebah G. Hunt, Baltimore Sun, August 14, 1849

[10] Silas Morris Cochran, Judge, Maryland Court Of Appeals. Obituaries in the New York Times, Dec 17, 1866 and the Baltimore Sun, Dec 18, 1866

[11] Baltimore County Land records, AWB 465, 151 ff.; Baltimore County Land Records, TK 320, 520 ff.; https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation

[12] Baltimore Sun, August 16, 1851

[13] Will of James Belden, Baltimore City Register of Wills, Will books 1876-1877, vol JHB, no 43, 325 ff.

[14] Baltimore Sun, October 18, 1851

[15] Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1867

[17] https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000615/html/am615--222.html. Passed May 11, 1852. It also made it a misdemeanor to deface cemetery property.

[18] Baltimore Sun, February 4, 1852

[19] Baltimore Sun, July 21, 1852

[20] Reverend Stokes even purchased or was given a plot of his own, only to have his name misspelled and his grave lost in the transfer to Carroll County.

[21] see the Baltimore Sun, March 6, 1858, Solomon H. Phillips vs. the laurel Cemetery, verdict for the plaintiff, $869.48, W. J. Ward for the plaintiff, Emory and Waters for the defendant and the 1852 law limiting the incorporation of cemeteries to white males, https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000615/html/am615--222.html

[22] Baltimore Sun, December 16, 1858.

[23] Roll of honor: names of soldiers who died in Defence of the American Union, interred in Laurel Cemetery, 1869, image 48, ff, https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/viewer/347791/?offset=0#page=48&viewer=picture&o=&n=0&q=

[24] Fleetwood’s diaries are at the Library of Congress and detail his at times turbulent friendship with Handy. See: https://www.loc.gov/item/mm75020784/

[25]as reported in Der Deutsche Correspondent, February 4 and 7, 1874. See the newspaper at https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045081/.

[26] Baltimore Sun, February 2, 1874.


(Death Record), CR 48045, image 662, January 30, 1875. The address is wrong on the certificate. Ann Hutchins Handy lived at 38 North Frederick. She was born in Frederick and buried in Laurel Cemetery on February 1, 1875. Samuel Chase, son of Reverend Samuel Chase, was the undertaker.

[28] Baltimore Sun, February 19, 1881 and Der Deutsche Correspondent, February 18, 1881.

[29] collection of the author .

[30] Speech by John M. Langston at Laurel Cemetery, Baltimore Sun, June 2, 1874, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/107579928/the-baltimore-sun/

[31] Baltimore Sun, June 2, 1874, prominently displayed on the front page.

[32] Baltimore Sun, June 6, 1880; U.S. War Department, Annual Report… 1884, 686, citation provided by Robert Schoeberlein

[34] Dr. Sharon L. Haynie graciously shared her research and documentation on her great-grandmother Rachel Collins and her grandmother, Rachel’s daughter, Mary Unella De Freitas Penn. Her mother, Inez Penn Haynie Dodson, kindly permitted me to quote from her mother’s letter to her family.

[35] Baltimore Sun, March 29, 1916.

[37] much has been written about Reverend Harvey Johnson, while more should be written about his wife, an accomplished author and native of Canada where her family had fled to from slavery. See: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100022427.https://www.amazon.com/Brotherhood-Liberty-Reconstruction-Baltimore-Nineteenth/dp/0812251393. Halpin’s book is available as an audio file: https://www.recordedbooks.com/title-details/9781980056751.

[38] MANAGER DEFENDS LAUREL CEMETERY: John B. Giles Says Burial Ground Is … Afro-American, Aug 17, 1923; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspaper Collection, pg. 9

[39] The details of the unsuccessful struggle to prevent the gas station from being built, along with photographs of the Emory and Nasser reception building and the surrounding neighborhood are to be found in the Baltimore City Law Department case files at the Baltimore City Archives, http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/series.aspx?action=viewdetailedseries&id=brg13-2, case number 55780.

[40] The Baltimore Afro-American, February 3, 1945.

[41] The Evening Sun began its investigations on May 31, 1948 (ironically Memorial Day) when the residents in the adjoining row houses (the Belair-Edison Improvement Association) called for the removal of the cemetery and the building of a shopping center in its place. There was no mention of the remaining graves of the Civil War veterans such as Alfred Ward Handy, only passing reference to government ownership of 67 lots originally intended for the burial of Negro soldiers. Ten years later, the Evening Sun would revisit the graveyard as the tombstones and some of the bodies were in the process of being removed to Carroll County to make way for the construction of the shopping center. By then it was too late. Evening Sun investigation of the ownership of Laurel Cemetery,, 11/14/1958, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/107580611/the-evening-sun/

[42] James H. Jones (1819 - 1893) was Johns Hopkins’s coachman to whom he left a substantial fortune and a house in 1873. See: https://www.thehouseofhopkins.com/posts/15-james-jones-part-2.

[44] Dedication of the Bishop Payne Monument at Laurel Cemetery, May 21, 1894, Baltimore Sun, May 22, 1894

[45] The current layout of the tombstones and monuments in Carroll County is to be found in the case papers of the failed effort to stop their removal which is Maryland State Archives, t53_5392-1 available at the computers in the searchroom: http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/item.aspx?ID=T53-5392-1.

[47] see the biographical work to date done on Jones included in an extensive study of Johns Hopkins an Slavery, https://osf.io/zra5f/, and on a well-researched blog, https://www.thehouseofhopkins.com/posts/14-james-jones-part-1. Also see two essays about Johns Hopkins at http://www.rememberingbaltimore.net/2022/03/johns-hopkins-and-slavery-slave-census.html and http://www.rememberingbaltimore.net/2021/02/johns-hopkins-orthodox-quaker.html .

[48] Baltimore Evening Sun, Wednesday, January 2, 1991

[49] Baltimore Sun, March 20,2018 and April 5, 2018

[51] There are several similar sculptures at Loudon Park Cemetery over the graves of white families, as there are in British graveyards. Who crafted them and what they cost is unknown. As late as 1930, C. M Seubott company then on Frederick Avenue, charged the Russell family $180 for a monument at Laurel without a figure but topped by a large cross. There is one graveyard in Tennessee that appears to have an exact duplicate, intact, of Johnson’s maiden dropping flowers on the grave. At the time the last known photograph of William Johnson’s grave was taken at Laurel in 1958, the flower was missing from her hand and today the Maiden is missing altogether.

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