War hero found beneath a simple grave.

12 09 2010

I found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands yesterday so I reviewed pictures of cemetery graves from last Spring.  I came a cross a series of photographs from a cemetery in

Major General Robert Cumming

Libertytown, Md which is located in Frederick County, MD.  The cemetery named Fairmount is located on Route 26, a main thoroughfare through town.  It is a well kept cemetery and small in size.  I like to randomly photograph stones; one that “speak” to me.  I came across the grave of Robert Cumming, no relation and nothing ornamental or grandiose on his stone.  However at the bottom of the stone is a circular placard with the initial S.A.R.  The Sons of  the American Revolution; a fraternal order formed in 1889 for the descendants of patriots I assumed that he had served in the Revolutionary War based off of his date of death.  I decided to do a little research.

I referenced “History of Western Maryland: being a history of Frederick …, Volume 1”  By John Thomas Scharf, Helen Long and found the following excerpt on page 1047: “1825 – Maj. Gen. Robert Cumming Commander of the Second Division of Maryland Militia.  In his 72nd year of  his age.”

I next performed a patriot search on the Sons of the American Revolution website located at www.sar.org.  Bingo – a match.  The record states that Robert Cumming held the rank of a Captain.  The exact location of his burial and list the name of his wife as “Mary Allen Coats”.  His birth date is listed as 1754 and death of 1825.

Being a member of the DAR, I then checked the online databases from the Daughters of the American Revolution website at www.dar.org it also confirmed the information listing on the SAR site, but also stated that his service description was at the Upper Battle of the Militia in Baltimore, Md.  Another clue was also listed – he had a son named John.

Ancestry lists a non-sourced family tree for the ancestors of Robert Cumming.  His father is listed as William born 1725 in Inverness Scotland and his mother is listed as Sarah Coppage born 1736 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  No sources are listed.

I then found an article that was written about General Cummings in the  The Boston news-letter: and city record, Volume 1 By Abel Bowen, Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith pg. 364. It is titled, “Another Revolutionary Hero gone!”

Who new that this simple grave housed such a hero.  God bless you Major General Robert Cumming.  Thank you for your service and rest in peace.

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Julia A. Simpson Tombstone

12 09 2010

Julia A. Simpson wife of Richard W. Simpson.  Located in Fairmount Cemetery in Libertytown, MD





Fairmount Cemetery

12 09 2010





Fairmount Cemetery

29 03 2009

howardSo yes…I admit that I like to spend my time off wandering cemeteries. While this may sound strange to some, every true genealogist can relate to this obsession.  Today we explored the Fairmount Cemetery in Libertytown, MD.  It is a well-kept cemetery with attractive iron gates at the entrance.

As we walked around something caught my eye. It was a tombstone carved from a large gray stone.  It marked the grave of Howard S. Thomas, born in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania in 1860 who passed away in 1943. It is the only stone of its kind in the cemetery; and displays primitive qualities given the year of death.  As you can see in the photo to the left,  the top of the stone has a carved hand with the index finger pointing downward.  The epitaph reads  “RETURNED TO MOTHER EARTH”. I began wondering who this person was; and why such why he had such an unusual stone.

I went home and started researching. Through the 1870 census records I verified that he was indeed born in the Hanover Borough of York County, PA.  He was the son of Emanuel and Sarah A. His father was a carriage maker, his mother keeping house,  and he had three brothers and four sisters.  The 1880 census revealed that  Howard S. Thomas was still residing in Pennsylvania, 20 years of age, and working as an apprentice stonecutter. His father was a retired gentleman, and his brother Jacob’s profession was listed as a dentist and another bother Edward a cigar maker.

In doing further research I stumbled upon one of his siblings obituary: Miss Cora Ellen Thomas, a dwarf, daughter of Mrs. Sarah A. Thomas, died Thursday evening at 4:30 o’clock, at the home of her mother, on York Street, of a complication of diseases from which she had been suffering for the past few weeks.  She was aged 37 years, 3 months and 13 days. Miss Thomas measured only 37½ inches in height and 30 inches around the waist. When she was three years old, she suffered with blood poisoning, and since that time had not grown.  She usually enjoyed  good health and weighed 44½ pounds.  She retained childish manners all her life, the development of her mind stopping with the end of the growth of her body. She is survived by her mother, three brothers and three sisters, George W. Thomas, of East Middle Street, Dr. J. A. Thomas, of Reading, Howard S. Thomas, of Libertytown, Md., Mrs. William Strayer, of Aaneoka, Minnesota, Mrs. Emory Swartz, of York Street, and Mrs. William H. Melhorn, of McAllister Street.The funeral will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the house.  Rev. M. J. Roth, pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, officiating, assisted by Rev. G. H. Reeser, of Emmanuel’s Reformed Church.  Interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.Hanover Herald – Saturday, December 02, 1899

While searching  The Frederick News newspaper I found and article from 1895 that stated, Miss Emma Thomas of Liberty is visiting her parents, Mr. & Mrs. James Baltzell of the same place.  In 1900 Howard and his wife Emma K. (born 1864 – MD). are residing in Libertytown, MD.  The census records indicate they were married in 1882.  They have two children that are listed as Harrie B. and Frankie.  His occupation is listed as a marble cutter. The 1910 census still find them residing in Libertytown, MD, his sons apparently gone off on their own, but a little surprise. They have a grandson living with them who is two years old and is named, Howard F. Thomas, most likely after his grandfather.   Howard is still working as a stone cutter in a Marble Shop.

The 1920’s find Howard and Emma living together in Libertytown, no longer is he a stonecutter, he is now listed as a barber!  I began searching the newspapers for an obituary when I found an article that explained everything. Howard Thomas had been preparing for his demise for over thirty years leaving detailed instructions for his funeral.  It states that Howard built his own casket as well as carving his very own tombstone.  He proudly displayed his casket in his barbershop for all patrons to see.  I am not related to this family, but hopefully they will enjoy the article. Another genealogy COLD CASE mystery solved. howard-thomas4