Ellsworth Cemetery

Westminster will annex 146-year-old Ellsworth Cemetery, where many Black Carroll residents are buried


After nearly 147 years, the historic Ellsworth Cemetery will soon be located within the city limits of Westminster. The Westminster Common Council unanimously approved annexation of Ellsworth Cemetery, located on Leidy Road, Monday night [June 12]. Article published by Carroll County Times on June 14, 2023.

By Sherry Greenfield
Carroll County Times; June 14, 2023

Ellsworth Cemetery

After nearly 147 years, the historic Ellsworth Cemetery will soon be located within the city limits of Westminster.

The Westminster Common Council unanimously approved annexation of Ellsworth Cemetery, located on Leidy Road, Monday night.

The council’s decision comes after months of discussion and review by city and county officials and advocating by several groups.

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners, the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission, and the City of Westminster Planning and Zoning Commission all reviewed the annexation proposal during the last several months and recommended approval.

The Common Council was the last agency needed to give approval.

“We really appreciate all the contributions from all those who worked so hard on this project,” said Common Council President Greg Pecoraro.

Carroll County Commissioner Tom Gordon III, who represents District 3, which includes Westminster, attended Monday night’s meeting. Gordon, a local historian, has spent the last three years advocating for the cemetery’s annexation.

“I really appreciate everybody taking the time, and the effort in this process,” Gordon said. “There was definitely collaboration between the county and city, the nonprofits. I think it’s a testament to what we can accomplish together, and I look forward to what other things may come up in the future.”

The Community Foundation of Carroll County petitioned the city on March 23 to annex the cemetery, which was founded by six Black Civil War veterans in December 1876.

“This annexation request is a unique opportunity for the city,” Kelly Shaffer Miller, an attorney representing the Ellsworth Cemetery, said. “Everybody is very excited about it.”

Shaffer Miller said that annexation approval will allow for the cemetery to be included in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. The heritage area program allows members to take advantage of grants and loans.

The heritage area covers parts ofCarroll, Frederick, and Washington counties and is located just below the Mason-Dixon Line, viewed as the dividing line between the North and South.

“I was drawn to the story of veterans buried at Ellsworth,” said Diane Boettcher, a volunteer researcher with the Ellsworth Cemetery. “There are seven veterans from the Civil War buried at Ellsworth, so it’s very important as part of our Civil War heritage in this area.”

The Ellsworth Cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent Black residents of Carroll County. When it was founded, its intention was to provide a burial place “for the Colored residents of Westminster, Maryland,” according to the cemetery’s website. The Westminster Cemetery had covenants at the time that prohibited the burial of African Americans, although some enslaved people are buried with their enslavers there.

Over the years, Ellsworth Cemetery fell into disrepair, with volunteers attempting upkeep and restoration. In 2013, a fund was established under the Community Foundation for Carroll County to support the repair and maintenance of Ellsworth. In early 2020, the Community Foundation was awarded a $65,000 state grant for restoration.

Many different community groups have helped to mark and restore many of the approximately 300 graves at the 1-acre site, fencing in the property, and adding a new sign above the entrance. In June 2022, nine headstones marking the graves of seven Civil War soldiers and two World War I soldiers were unveiled at the cemetery.

To access the article on BaltimoreSun.com you must have a subscription https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/news/cc-westminster-approves-annexation-ellsworth-cemetery-20230614-hlrcf32brnh5dacxz4gljuj274-story.html

Additional news stories:
WMAR News, Ellsworth Cemetery to become part Westminster, June 13, 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr0gSoWk_94

WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore, Town annexes cemetery in order to make much-needed repairs, June 14, 2023: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VTbzHt5B_I

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