The Maryland Historical Trust is asking the Arundel Corp. to look again for a family cemetery and expand its search for artifacts on a Carroll County farm that played an important role in the history of the American Methodist Church.
The Arundel Corp., which wants to open a limestone quarry on the site, has been working with church representatives, preservationists and the historical trust for about nine months to find ways for its planned mining operation to coexist with the site's historic features.
Controversy has centered on whether the 126-acre farm in TC Wakefield Valley contains a family cemetery that, some contend, is in the path of the planned quarry.
The trust recommends "further investigation of the probable cemetery location," said Gary Shaffer, an archaeological and preservation officer.
He said the trust also recommends "further investigation to determine whether archaeological deposits are eligible for listing in the National Register [of Historic Places]."
Arundel Corp. geologist Owen Neighbours declined to say whether the corporation will do further investigation.
"We haven't finished negotiating and working this out," he said.
The trust makes recommendations to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment, which are responsible for ensuring that historic preservation studies are made before mining permits are issued.
Arundel Corp. pledged two months ago to preserve a house on the site that was owned by Andrew Poulson, host of the second "class meeting," one of the groups formed by American Methodist Church founder Robert Strawbridge. The groups initially met at people's homes and then grew into congregations.
The plan to preserve the house was "real good news for us," said Daniel Hartzler, president of the Strawbridge Shrine Association, which works to preserve sites important to Methodist history.
Arundel officials initially questioned whether the Poulson family had a burial plot, because no headstones were found when Arundel bought the farm in 1986. The headstones, which disappeared before Arundel bought the tract, were found last year in a weed-covered corner of the nearby Stone Chapel Cemetery.
Arundel Corp. acknowledged the cemetery's existence in its tentative agreement with the Shrine Association. However, corporate officials said they don't know where the graves are, despite an archaeological survey early this year.
The archaeological survey found 460 19th- and early 20th-century artifacts, such as brick fragments, bits of glass and nails, around the Poulson homestead. Andrew Poulson died in 1807, but the farm remained in the family until 1855.
Ralph E. Poulson, a descendant of Andrew Poulson, has confirmed the names of seven family members who are buried at the site. Local genealogist Karen Dattilio said she has confirmed 14 burials at the site.
The County Commissioners promised Ralph Poulson in a letter last month that Maryland laws regulating the relocation of burial plots "will be enforced in connection with the Poulson family cemetery."
The letter praised Arundel for cooperating in addressing issues related to its mining plans.
Maryland law requires property owners to disinter and move graves that lie in the path of construction, under supervision of the local state's attorney.
Carroll residents Paul W. Englar, whose uncle owned the farm in the early 1900s, and Charles Curfman, a retired farmer who rented the acreage from a former owner, said they can pinpoint the location of the cemetery.
Neighbours said information from Englar, a 103-year-old resident of Carroll Lutheran Village, and Curfman helped the archaeologist determine the cemetery's location, in a field northwest of the house.
Englar grew up within walking distance of the Poulson farm, which his great-grandfather John Englar bought in 1855.
He has a slide of a field on the Poulson farm, taken from atop a hill on Nicodemus Road, that he uses to point out the cemetery site.
Ralph Poulson said he is not opposed to the quarry operation if the shrine and cemetery are preserved.
"My immediate concern is that they don't know where the cemetery is because the stones were removed years ago. So there was a desecration," he said.
Pub Date: 6/19/97