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Churches are big part of Aberdeen's history

Churches are a big part of Aberdeen's history. In the Aberdeen Room Museum we have a large display, and a large file on of documents and photos of the many churches in the Aberdeen area.

All of the memorabilia in these files and displays have been donated. Unfortunately, families first discover many saved records when loved ones have passed away. Thoughtfully, these faithful families remember to bring, or send, these historic items to the Aberdeen Room.

Names of families like Paxton and Reid are well remembered in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. We were very saddened to learn of Ruth Reid Paxton's passing. Her daughter, Karen Paxton Gustafson, has sent a package of Methodist and Presbyterian bulletins and other saved records to us from Arizona. Her entire family were community-minded and continue to remember Aberdeen.

Among the records is the brochure from the dedication of the new landscaping at Grace Methodist Church in September 1993. From 1966 is a booklet of "Gifts and Memorials" that tells of the new sanctuary donated by members and friends of the Methodist Church after the old 1893 church was demolished. The beautiful new church was constructed at the site in 1964, at the corner of West Bel Air Avenue and South Parke Street.

There is the bulletin from the "First Service" at the new Methodist sanctuary on Jan. 2, 1966. Another document is titled "The Cornerstones of Grace U.M. Church" that asks "Have you seen them do you know where they are? Read the following, written by Herman Gay, and then take a look at the cornerstones and also the new shrubbery around the church."

"An important building generally has a cornerstone to commemorate its beginning, but Grace United Methodist Church has five because of its many different beginnings and rich heritage. The newest cornerstone is at the Bel Air Avenue-Parke Street corner of the sanctuary, marked simply 1964. The other four are grouped around the entrance just west of the main entrance.

The first of these is from one of the three Bush Chapel churches built in 1769, 1842 and 1878. The next cornerstone is from the first Aberdeen M.E. Church built in 1856 at the site of the Harford County Services Building on Route 40. That church was the successor church for the Paradise Road and the Boothby Hill congregations. It in turn was succeeded by the M.E. Church built a the present site in 1893 the fourth cornerstone. The fifth cornerstone is from the Grace M.E. Church South, built at West Bel Air Avenue and Law Street in 1866 and 1899. When the North and South Methodist Churches united in 1942, the congregation of Grace moved to the present site and the church was named Grace M.E. Church.

Although there is no cornerstone to show it, Grace is also the successor to the Garrettson Chapel, built shortly after 1790 in the Gunpowder Neck Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

This information was obtained from "History of the Grace United Methodist Church" by R. F. Cronin. A copy is available in the church library.

Also included in the packet of records are documents from the Aberdeen Presbyterian Church, to which the Paxton family belonged. There is a booklet of the "50+ Year Members of the Grove Church." Included is a "Grove Presbyterian Membership Book" in 1993.

All of these and other church files are available to the public at the Aberdeen Room Museum at 18 Howard St., or contact 410-273-6325 or

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