• A Cemetery Visit

    In keeping with the Halloween spirit,
      I want to share a recent cemetery visit with you.  

     A very charming, quiet, and a very cherished (finally) cemetery called Whipps Garden Cemetery located in Howard County, Maryland - right in the middle of a housing development.

    Back story:

    I have lived in Columbia, Howard County Maryland since 1973 and never visited this cemetery until 2018 - despite the fact I have passed it ... oh, maybe 100 times or more!

    Old private family cemeteries can be unusual depending on where you live in the country.  Development on the east coast of the US, however, is invasive.  I cringe at the thought of how many old graves  sites have been lost in time or just paved over with the steam roller of developers.

    Many original Howard County farm homes dot the landscape within Columbia, a planned city that is 50 years young.   On occasion you will find a small family cemetery attached to one of these original properties.  In fact, when I lived in my former neighborhood of King's Contrivance, Columbia, there was one such house right in the middle of our development - with a small attached graveyard.  What is really amazing is the fact that any of these small cemeteries remain in this area ... in spite of the march of modernization and development.

    Beautiful iron works 

    The Whipp Garden Cemetery:

    The Whipp Garden Cemetery is located in Ellicott City, adjacent to Columbia - in Howard County, Maryland  The cemetery sits in a well establish housing development called St. John's Community, right off St. John's Road.  I vaguely remember catching a brief glance at this cemetery as I sped past in my car during its neglected period prior to 1987.  I remember thinking it was sad to see its decline.  But I also remember years later seeing people working in that cemetery.

    Today, I finally stopped!

    I was moved by all I saw and learned!

    This one acre plot of land was established as a cemetery in 1833, yet some gravestones were from 1820s.  William Whipps bought the land in 1855 for $73.25, and the deed noted the presence of an "an old graveyard."  The Whipps were well-known farmers and merchants of the day who also served as blacksmiths at Oakland Manor -- now Oakland Mills in Columbia.  The last burials at this site were in 1915.

    The Whipps burial ground was always just a little country cemetery, not affiliated with any church.  In the later 1800s, burial lots were sold to other families.  Over time the cemetery was forgotten, over grown, and suffered from vandalism.

    Not much thought was given to this cemetery until 1984 when building stakes went up in the weeds and bulldozers began clearing the brush!  A group of neighbors - members of the St. Johns Community Association, Inc. led by Barbara Seig - decided that this little wooded cemetery had suffered enough neglect and abuse.

    Thank God for concerned citizens who saw a wrong and took steps to make it right.

    Marker with no writing on it.
    Restoration began in 1987 by the community association assisted by the descendants of the Whipps family, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, area garden clubs and neighborhood volunteers.  It is now owned by The Friends of the Whipps Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, Inc., a non-profit organization.

    This precious gift of a beautiful old cemetery for the residents of Howard County is maintained by Master Gardeners who plant and maintain heritage and native species in a variety of different settings, interspersed by pathways, benches, iron works and tombstones.

    The plants are typical of Maryland in the 1800s.

    I will visit again.  

    I am sure that the face of this special place changes with the change of seasons ...

    Just as it has changed over its long history.

    For now that face shows beauty, care and reverance for the history of this
    small one acre cemetery.

    Here's hoping it's future is bright.

    ** Note
    Information about the Whipps Garden Cemetery was pulled directly from 3 sources - A brochure created by The Friends of The Whipps Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, Inc., A Self-Guided Stroll through the Gardens booklet and their web site.
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