Please help us save a historic colonial family cemetery and the valued green space where these hard working men, women and children have been resting for over a century.
Back in 1773 under British rule, the Christopher Family purchased 50 acres in colonial Lauraville (today part of Northeast Baltimore City). Our Community Founders were among the first settlers in the area, and many local streets today bear their names (Christopher Ave., Eunice Ave., Louise Ave., Edna Ave. …). After faithfully caring for Our Loved Ones for almost 200 years, the Christopher family lost control of the cemetery when the Baltimore City foreclosed on the land in 1962 for back taxes due to death of Samuel Christopher whom no family member knew owned the property. Before the foreclosure, the cemetery had been well maintained, and was referenced on maps and in books. After the foreclosure, the identity of a cemetery was "dropped" from the official deed but not in books, maps, community and reality. Even when, over time, most of the gravestones became victims of vandalism, the remains of our ancestors in the cemetery were never destroyed, excavated nor reinterred.
Relatives and friends of the Christopher family ask your help to make sure that these important Community Founders have a dignified final resting place. We hope to preserve their current resting place as a landscaped area that offers a green space for the community, and a sense of heritage. We seek funds for a lawyer specializing in cemetery law, as well as for genealogical research. The Christopher Cemetery is slated for development by JJ Royston LLC (aka Jeffery Jackson of Stonewall Capital) and preparing for Baltimore City approval as we speak. There are State laws to protect a known cemetery. It is standard in Maryland for city and state officials to require a full archaeological survey to identify the real boundaries of the cemetery that never over the centuries had a wall, fence or any other visual boundary (headstones may be lacking, burials may exist outside of the cemetery deeded boundaries). Identified graves could then be excavated and reinterred or the decision could be made to keep the cemetery and green space intact. These ethical and respectful Maryland State Law standards are not being enforced! The State says that Baltimore City needs to uphold the State Law and Baltimore City says it is a state issue!
The developer, JJ Royston LLC while claiming no cemetery, conducted a ground penetrating radar of only a small clearing representing less than 10% of the cemetery (in an area where they were not planning to build). The GPR survey identified many burials.
Local archeologists after a vistual survey of the area believe many more graves exist. Their professional asset is backed up by census and Family Bible records which suggest at least several dozen burials.
The developer's agent has indirectly (so not in writing) hinted of offering to donate the small 10% GPR verified piece of the property to the Christopher descendents and in doing so they will qualify for a tax relief from Baltimore City, for having commemorated a burial ground. This is not acceptable! What about the graves located in remaining 90% of the graveyard? These will be desecrated by backhoes, sewage lines and water pipes, to make way for this profitable development! New cemetery laws have been passed in Maryland in the past few years, which can enable us to win this case with your help. With your help, we can save Our Loved Ones from being desecrated, and preserve this historic cemetery as a restored green space, a space to remember those who came before us, and a reminder of the local heritage for the community.
I would hate to see another disgraceful, disrespectful and shameful end as the fate of Laurel Cemetery.
We hope to raise $30,000 for legal fees and genealogical research. If we are able to preserve the cemetery, the family will raise additional funds for landscaping and restoration work.