History lives at St. Anne's Cemetery

May 14, 2006|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

St. Anne's Cemetery has long held a fascination for Emily Peake. "I've always been nosy," she said. "I used to come out here with my mother" as a young girl, she said.

For the past dozen years or so, Peake, 79, has been researching all three sections of the cemetery, the oldest in Annapolis, and learning about the scores of famous people buried there.

John Shaw, the cabinetmaker; John and William Kielty, brothers who served in the Revolutionary War; Peter Hagner, appointed by President George Washington to serve as the third treasurer of the United States.

"Up here, you have real history," said Peake, standing among the tombstones on a windswept spring day. "The history of the town, the history of the state, even the history of the United States. I don't know many places that can brag that."

The first section of the cemetery, behind St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Church Circle, was established in 1692, when the Church of England was established as the official church of the colony of Maryland, Peake said. The church that is now in Annapolis' Church Circle is the third at the site. The current one was built after a fire burned down the second one in 1858, she said. All have been brick.

According to a history published by the church in 1965, the cemetery was the only public burying ground in Annapolis for many years.

One of the oldest tombs belongs to Amos Garrett, the first mayor of Annapolis, who died March 8, 1727, at age 56.

The main part of the cemetery, along Northwest Street, was established in 1790. After 1800, no more burials were allowed in the churchyard, she said.

A third section, the Ceder Bluff Cemetery, was a private cemetery established in 1898. The church acquired it in 1990, Peake said.

In all, more than 6,500 people are laid to rest in the three sections, which total about 20 acres. Peake, who is the historian and archivist for the cemetery, has been transcribing the information from the tombs and doing research on the bodies buried there.

Some don't even have names. A plot for the Guest family has a tiny tombstone with a carved lamb on top. The stone reads: "Our little Guest." No date is discernible.

Peake, whose grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in the large section of the cemetery, hopes to create a book that she can sell to raise money for repairs to a long brick wall separating the church from the street.

The wall was already crumbling when a car rolled into it last winter, damaging it further, Peake said.

Here are a few of the more interesting tombstones:

John Shaw: The renowned cabinetmaker and his family share a plot in the cemetery. Shaw, who created much of the furniture for the State House, died Feb. 26, 1829. His wife, Elizabeth, died March 19, 1793. And a 5-year-old, whose name is not entirely legible, died Oct. 9, 1793.

Gov. Thomas G. Pratt: Pratt was governor of Annapolis from 1845 to 1848.

Born Feb. 18, 1804, Pratt also served as a Whig in the U.S. Senate from 1849 to 1857. He died Nov. 9, 1869. A stone for his son, Thomas St. George Pratt, shows that he lived from 1837 to 1895 and was a first lieutenant in the Civil War.

John and William Kielty: The Kielty brothers appear to have the only monument in the cemetery that mentions service in the Revolutionary War. "That's not to say there aren't others," Peake said, "but this is the only one that says so." The two share a large monument.

Peter Hagner: The third treasurer of the United States was appointed by Washington in 1793 and served in the U.S. government for 56 years. He died in July 1850.

Capt. James Iredell Waddell: Waddell, born in North Carolina in 1824, was captain of the CSS Shenandoah, the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe.

In the 1880s, he was asked again to serve his country, this time to battle the oyster pirates who were stealing from the Chesapeake Bay. He dispatched them with ease. He died March 15, 1886.

Richard Randall: Randall's monument is actually a cenotaph for former slaves.

Randall, a free black, was a resident of Annapolis. He became an Army physician in 1818 and later undertook the governorship of the African nation of Liberia in 1828, during the period when it was being colonized by former slaves. He died in April 1829.

According to the monument, "he fell, a martyr to the cause in which his heart was engaged."

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