Hagerstown Homeowner Fights for 270 Year Old Cemetery Preservation


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. - A Hagerstown homeowner is fighting for a piece of history that he discovered right in his own backyard. He said there is an unmarked cemetery and worries modern infrastructure might disturb it.

Built in 1740, property on Broadfording Road holds the oldest house in Washington County, and the former home of Peter Studebaker, who was well known in this area for manufacturing wagons during the colonial days.

"When I first bought it, I had no idea about that history," said Roger Brown, homeowner.

But it's what's behind the house that homeowner Roger Brown said he's fighting for, a 270-year-old cemetery where Studebaker, his family and nearly 100 other people are all buried.

"We always thought that the cemetery was down where the stones are. But in the past three years, we've done a lot of research development for the history and we discovered that the cemetery is not where the stones are, it's closer to my house," said Brown.

In September 2013, when new waterlines were needed for two nearby houses, the Washington County government got involved with marking and running new waterlines. And that's when Brown, started pushing harder to preserve the long hidden cemetery.

Brown teamed up with archivist Teri Magnante to learn more about the history of the cemetery and discovered those new county waterlines were running through the cemetery. They worry those lines might be disturbing the integrity of the sacred ground.

"No one knew that it was back there, it was hidden. And because of that when the county came out here and laid waterlines, they didn't believe there was an actual cemetery there," said Teri Magnante, archivist for the Baker's Lookout Project.

After hearing from Brown, WHAG reached out to county officials and they released a statement saying "The Washington County Division of Engineering and Construction Management (ECM) has performed a complete property line survey of the properties in question in an effort to ensure various historical and property owner interests. Upon completion of the survey and multiple field visits to the site, ECM has not observed a violation of code or ordinance under its purview.  ECM has conveyed the information found to the interested property owners and will share the same information with other state and local agencies that may have interest."

Still, Brown says he'll keep fighting for this history.

"And we really feel that through all this, these people are actually speaking from the grave. Help us. You know help us respect our existence," said Brown. "And help us you know speak out here and save our little area here where we're buried. And that's what we're doing."

Brown says he's still waiting for a response from county administrators and the county attorney about the matter.

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