The publicity surrounding the digging at the Great Brick Chapel has paid some curious dividends.
Henry Miller, chief archaeologist at Historic St. Mary's City, said that six months ago, descendants of an early St. Mary's family, now living in Front Royal, Va., produced a 7 1/2 -inch-long iron key, which family legend said was the key to the church in St. Mary's City.
The family's genealogy checked out, Miller said, and the key is very old.
"We keep hoping to find the lock," Miller joked. "That would be great."
Until they do, they can't know for certain whether it's really the key turned by the sheriff of St. Mary's County when he was ordered by the governor to lock the church in 1704. The order followed passage of legislation banning public worship by Catholics in Maryland.