MT. AUBURN CEMETERY
Contributed by Kristin Keaser
THIS IS AN ENDANGERED AFRICAN AMERICAN CEMETERY
CONTACT THE CONTRIBUTOR TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN HELP
WITH CLEANUP AND PRESERVATION EFFORTS
individual photos to enlarge. Additional photos here.
Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 2614 Annapolis Road,
Baltimore, MD 21230, Cemetery Office (410) 547-0337
From the Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church:
“Mount Auburn Cemetery is the oldest owned and operated African-American cemetery in Baltimore City. This burial ground was founded in 1868 and the deed was signed by the Reverend James Peck, Pastor and the Trustees of Sharp Street Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872. For a number of years it was the only cemetery in Baltimore City where African-Americans could be buried in dignity.
“Mount Auburn Cemetery is the continuation of a tradition begun in 1810. The Reverend Peck and the Trustees of Sharp Street Church purchased land in Mount Winans to continue this tradition for members of the African American community. The land was officially dedicated and named, "The City of the Dead for Colored People." The name was changed to Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1894. The Cemetery was incorporated January 4, 1982. Today, Mount Auburn Cemetery exists as a monument to our history and heritage. It is the resting place of Joseph Gains, first African-American light heavyweight boxing champion; Lillie Carroll Jackson, civil rights activist; William Ashbie Hawkins, first African-American to run for the United States Senate in Maryland; John Henry Murphy, founder of the Afro American Newspaper; freed slaves; and other persons from all walks of life.
“Mount Auburn Cemetery was designated a Historic Landmark in Baltimore City in 1986 and an Historic Site in 2001 on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Former slaves who had escaped to freedom through the Underground Railroad are among those buried here by Baltimore's African-American families. For years it was the only burial ground for Baltimore blacks.
The Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church originates from the establishment of the first black congregation in Baltimore, Maryland in 1787. The first church, built in 1802, was located on Sharp Street between Lombard and Pratt Streets. The present edifice was erected and occupied in 1898. On July 21, 1982, Sharp Street Memorial Church and the community house were entered in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.
Despite this history, the conditions at the cemetery are horrendous! The property is completely overgrown, the fence is falling apart and the fence line littered with trash. I am forwarding pictures evidencing the current conditions under separate cover and will also provide you with newspaper articles regarding this issue.
I became interested in the cemetery due to research into my husband’s ancestry – he has four (4) relatives buried there and no idea where! The Church itself has not been helpful thus far – I emailed offering my help in digitalizing their records or at least transcribing the names of those laid to rest there, but have gotten no response. My individual attempt to obtain information regarding the location of the four grave sites has not yet yielded any result. Matter of fact, my husband and I were treated rather harshly.
Please consider this cemetery as a worthy submission to your neglected or endangered list – I hope to create some interest in this property so that its history and the history of those buried will not be lost forever.
My husband’s family members are:
- Dorothea Keaser (born 15 March 1954; buried in June 1954)
- Eugene Lawrence Keaser (born 26 Aug 1884; buried June 1958)
- Ruth Melinda Keaser (born 11 Jul 1904; buried Sep 1969)
- Lloyd Thomas Keaser (born 20 Jul 1929; buried Jul 1973)
- Newspaper articles from the
Baltimore Sun dating to 1997 detailing the deplorable
conditions at Mt. Auburn [PDF-253k]