The Old Graveyard: Frederick, Maryland

THE OLD GRAVEYARD.

A Spot of Peculiar Historical Interest.

There is a great deal of historic interest attached to the old Presbyterian graveyard which has lately been purchased by the Salvation Army. In 1782 the first Presbyterian church ever built in this county was here erected. It was a very plain stucture of bricks, supposed to have been brought from England. It had a brick floor, high backed pews and a very lofty pulpit. The congregation was composed of Scotch settlers from Pennsylvania with a considerable German element; the first pastor was Rev. S.B. Balch, who was followed by Revs. David Baird and Cunningham Sample. Next came Rev. Samuel Knox from Ireland, a man of rare literary talents, who during his pastorate here was president of the Fred[er]ick Academy. He was the great grandfather of Rev. Wm. Ould, the present incumbent of the church. He was connected by marriage with the McCleery family of this city, who about two years ago removed the bodies of Mr. Knor [Knox?] and wife to Mt. Olivet cemetery. Rev. Patrick Davidson came next who was also president of the Frederick Academy, and it was during his pastorate that a new church was contemplated.

The present site was purchased about the year 1819, though the edifice was not commenced until 1825 and dedicated in 1827. To go back to the old churchyard with its fallen gravestones and sunken graves overrun with myrtle, we find that Rev. Mr. Davi[d]son was buried here in 1825. Among the sleeping dead were members of our prominent families whose sacred dust has just been carefully reinterred in Mt. Olivet. It has been told by an old resident, that Episcopalians and Presbyterians worshipped together in this old church, and their Sunday schools were united until the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Hamner.

Gov. Thomas Johnson (Image from http://www.knowledgerush.com)

One of the most historical events celebrated in this antique church occurred February 22nd, 1800, when Thomas Johnson, first Governor of Maryland, delivered a funeral oration in memory of George Washington.

George Washington (Image from http://shopyield.com)

Eight thousand persons were in attendance. It was one of those masterly orations which have been handed down to posterity. Gov. Johnson was a personal friend of Gen. Washington, and this oration was the last official act of his life. He said: “So strongly was Washington’s dear image imprinted on my memory, that I can now see the manly form and graceful attitude, his piercing blue eyes softened by modesty, innate sweetness and harmony of soul. Let us imitate his example, remember his patriotism, his courage on the field of battle and death, and like him to render up our swords to the country from which we receive them. We are professing Christians, let us live so that at death we may say like Washington, ‘I am not afraid to die.'”

The News (Frederick, Maryland) May 9, 1887

The Presbyterian Church image from: (Google Book LINK – limited preview) “Historical Sketch of the Presbyterian Church 1780-1910” starts on page 448

Title   History of Frederick County, Maryland, Volume 1
Authors    Thomas John Chew Williams, Folger McKinsey
Edition    reprint
Publisher Genealogical Publishing Com, 1979
ISBN    0806379731, 9780806379739
Length    1724 pages

*****

More About Samuel Knox by Bernard C. Steiner in the Maryland Historical Magazine – vol.4; 1909 (Google Books LINK) pg. 276

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