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Little information exists about cemetery

Final resting place for some 19th century-era blacks are part of county's lost history

Final resting place for some 19th century-era blacks are part of county's lost history

November 14, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

BOONSBORO - Local residents referred to it as the black cemetery on Short Hill, the place in Boonsboro where Elias Washington and his son Samuel, are buried.

In a town steeped in history, local historians say there are few clues about the final resting place some of Boonsboro's black residents during the Civil War era. Boonsboro had a small community of blacks who lived near where Reeders Memorial Home is today, said town historian Doug Bast, founder of the Boonsborough Museum of History, who is working on a book about Boonsboro's history.

But today, the black cemetery on Short Hill isn't what most people would envision as a cemetery.

"There's nothing there," Bast said. "You walk out there and all of a sudden you see a tombstone."

There isn't much information about the grave site to begin with. Records from the Western Maryland Room at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown offer limited information, but it has an audit of Washington County cemeteries taken in the 1940s.

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The audit lists Elias Washington, who died in 1867, and Samuel Washington, who died in 1864, as being buried there. But they are the only two listed by name. For the rest buried at the black cemetery on Short Hill, the audit simply says "lots of graves, no stones."

The grave site is currently on private property.

Longtime Boonsboro resident Jerry Itnyre, 72, who's on the Boonsboro Historical Society's board, said he's lived within a half mile of the cemetery most of his life.

He said older residents of Boonsboro might be familiar with the graveyard. But today, the site wouldn't be easy to find.

"I couldn't find a hide and a hair of it," Itnyre said.

James New, 62, the man who owns the property where the graves lie, says there isn't much left to the site, which is in an inaccessible portion of woods near his pasture, where his bull roams.

"There are only two grave stones," New said. "That's it."

He said he doesn't get many inquiries about the grave site, but said he'd be willing to let any descendants of those buried there visit the cemetery.

His plan for the site? Not to disturb the cemetery, to let it rest in peace.

"They've been resting there a long time," New said.

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