Cemeteries

My interest in genealogy has led me to cemeteries. These are a great place to learn and to verify information on ancestors. Lately I have become involved in two old cemeteries in Worcester County, Maryland: Ebenezer Methodist Church Cemetery, at the corner of Maryland Route 610 and Ebenezer Road near Bishopville Maryland and the Powell Family Cemetery in Whaleyville, Maryland. There are some exciting things developing with the Ebenezer cemetery and some disasters going on with the Powell Family Cemetery. This post will deal with the Powell Family Cemetery.

I have been intending to go to this old, abandoned cemetery for years. Now, semi-retired, I ran out of excuses and finally went there. There is no street access to the cemetery which is located about 1/2 mile off of the road. I had to ask the homeowner (not the owner of the cemetery) of the house in front of the agricultural field which surrounds the cemetery for permission to park in his driveway to walk back there. He is a very nice young man and was happy to give me permission.

The cemetery has a wire fence around it but the weeds and old grasses are much taller than the fence. The first grave I found upon entering was that of my 2nd great grand mother Margaret Elizabeth Smack Powell (1829-1906) and her husband, my 2nd great grandfather Jacob R. Powell (1829-1893). Their headstones were so covered with algae that they were barely readable. In addition to the weeds and tall grasses, the cemetery had fox holes all over it. One headstone had collapsed on its right side into the ground with only about 1/4 of it above the earth. It was in the worst condition of any cemetery I had ever seen.

I learned who the owner of the cemetery was and got permission to clean it up and make whatever repairs I deemed necessary. Thirty-five days passed between my first visit there and my second. The amount of damage caused by the foxes between the two visits was amazing. On the second visit there were at least three headstones which had sunk into the ground from the tunneling of the foxes. There were holes everywhere.

I began using the tools I took to begin cutting down the grass and weeds. I also took sprayers with me: one with clear water and one with D2 Biological Solution to cut through the algae on the headstones. First I soaked the headstones with water. I used a plastic scraper ( so as not to mar the stone surface) to scrape off as much algae as I could. I then used a plastic bristle brush (again, an effort not to mar the stone surface) to clean off as much as I could. Another soak with the water sprayer rinsed off much of the remaining algae. After that, I sprayed the gravestones with D2. This is a great product and contains no bleach which might harm the surface. In a few weeks I will go back and see how much improvement there is.

During the upcoming week it is my intent to contact the county animal control office to find out what steps I can take to get rid of the foxes. I am hoping I can set live traps to capture them, and then take them far away from this area and release them. This is their habitat so I don’t want to hurt them, but I need to get them out of this cemetery or it will be completely ruined.

Please check back to get an update on the progress of this cemetery and to learn about the exciting plans for Ebenezer Cemetery.