Historic cemetery attracts cleanup effort Work-release inmates, volunteers join project

March 26, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Work-release inmates from the Baltimore County jail had an unusual cleanup job last week -- a graveyard.

They tidied up a tiny family cemetery near the center of Towson, where founding members of the community are buried. Over the years, it has fallen into disrepair as vandalism, trash and weeds have claimed the forgotten plot.

But a recent Sun article describing the problems sparked several offers of help -- from individuals as far away as Pennsylvania and Anne Arundel County.

After reading about the litter, James M. Dean, director of the county Bureau of Corrections, sent three prisoners, accompanied by a corrections officer, to the Shealey cemetery the next day to tackle the project.

The county Office of Community Conservation has gotten involved, asking a local landscape architect to develop a plan for the old graveyard, where 18 Towson family members are said to be buried.

Several individuals called or wrote to say they would help. S. Scott Appel offered the services of his Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity brothers at Towson State University.

"Do we not have a responsibility to the past citizens of Towson as well as current and future ones?" he wrote in a letter to Towson Republican Councilman Douglas B. Riley. "To forget these founders and let their final resting places fall into such disrepair is simply wrong."

The cemetery off Shealy Avenue is a resting place for the Towsons, Schmucks and Shealeys who pioneered the town. But because of aging descendants and a convoluted property title, it has been left untended.

Now, it is about to be overshadowed by a proposed five-level parking garage connected to the redeveloped Hutzler's building.

Surviving members of the Towson family -- who trace their roots to Mary Ann Shealey, a great-grandchild of founder Ezekiel Towson -- were surprised by the offers for help.

"I'm pleased people are kind enough to offer to do something with it," said Darlene Dail, 61, of Dundalk, who is tracing the family genealogy. "These people are wonderful."

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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