Cockey clan graves moved to new plot Longtime cemetery of patriot, others is set for development

September 25, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

The Cockey family is finally at rest.

After being usurped by a Bob Evans restaurant, the remains of 31 family members -- including a Revolutionary War patriot and a founder of Cockeysville -- and 102 slaves and servants are now reinterred.

Grand marble headstones and humble weathered stones line a new cemetery in Texas about a half-mile from the family's former, 257-year-old graveyard off West Padonia Road.

"From our standpoint, now we know where they are and that they will be preserved," said Joshua F. Cockey of B, 72, a 10th-generationCockey who uses the formal designation "of B" for "son of Bennett Cockey."

The move, completed this week, did not come without dissension, however.

Last year, several members of the Cockey family anguished in a zoning hearing over the fate of their ancestors. Several wanted to keep the cemetery on the property that Thomas Cockey purchased in 1725 -- a 1,000-acre expanse that at one time stretched from Timonium to Ashland.

But concern over a proposed office-retail-restaurant complex by the property's owner, Redland Genstar Inc., raised the specter of a lonely graveyard overshadowed by trash and a parking lot.

The family and Genstar reached an agreement in summer 1996, allowing the company to relocate the cemetery -- and requiring it to pick up the $300,000 price tag.

"It turned into a very expensive project," said John H. Gease III, Genstar's director of real estate. "It still needs work."

Preservationists said the Cockey graveyard is historically important because Thomas Cockey Dye, a speaker of the House of Delegates in the 1780s, is buried there and family members and slaves are interred in the same area. The preservationists watched the relocation closely.

"The fact they used an archaeologist makes it better than some projects," said Richard B. Hughes, chief of the Office of Archaeology for the Maryland Historical Trust. " Overall, the project, given the circumstances, is as good as can be expected."

The old homestead on Padonia Road is hardly the pastoral setting of the past. The family estate, Taylor's Hall, was moved in 1986 to Rockland near Falls and Old Court roads, leaving behind the graves.

In addition to Bob Evans, another restaurant, Roman's Macaroni Grill, opens today. Soon, a hotel, two warehouse-type retailers and offices are expected to take over the 60-acre parcel.

Yesterday, Joshua Cockey, keeper of the family's history, toured the new family resting place, a mostly barren plot on Church Lane near a limestone quarry. Workers still were sandblasting the old grave markers.

"It's been a tough job, keeping everything straight -- which stones were with which graves," said John Tyrie Barshinger, a foreman with John Tyrie and Son Monument Co., which refurbished the old stones and made new ones.

Eventually, the cemetery will be part of the Texas History Park, another Redland Genstar project that will include a reconstructed lime kiln and plaques on the Cockey family and the area's mining industry.

"We're satisfied," Cockey said. "We could have been hardnosed and said no. But if it had stayed down there, the whole thing could have been desecrated."

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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