I do not believe keeping the Stanley name on the new library is a problem, unless I'm missing something. The deed that accompanied the land transfer did stipulate that it be named for the Stanley family but it did not indicate that it should be Charles's name specifically. In the Laurel Historical Society archival picture from May 1967 when it was dedicated, the name on the building is simply Stanley. Maybe someone later decided that Charles was the most prominent member of the family and attached his name in the records, but my understanding is the name was driven by the deeding of the land by Charles Stanley's heirs. Since he died in 1913, it would have been a child or grandchild or other relative.
That said, this new building is meant to reflect and pay homage to Laurel's multi-layered history from mill town to modern suburb of Washington and Baltimore and preserve and enhance historic Emancipation Park, once home to Laurel Colored School No. 2 for Grove residents and for more than 100 years site of the oldest Emancipation celebration in the state.
Yes, Charles fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War but Maryland was divided in its sympathies and it is well documented that neighbors — even brothers — fought on opposite sides of that war. I found one other interesting fact about Charles from an online document entitled "The African American Experience in Laurel," by St. Mark's Historian Sandra Johnson. She says this about the oak grove across the street from St. Mark's:
"Many church related activities, picnics and baseball games were held in the old oak grove. The facility belonged to the Charles Stanley family. Charles Stanley was married to Margaret Snowden, a descendant of the Snowden family, founders of Laurel. Charles and other members of his family allowed the sponsors of the activities to use the property free of charge."
We are not judging whether he as a man was ordinary or remarkable, only noteworthy, and that he is an integral part of the Grove's history in that he owned the acreage that was later deeded to the county in his family's name. To suggest the family name should not continue on the building because Charles fought for the confederacy 100 years before the original dedication of the building would be tantamount to saying the many streets and subdivisions in South Laurel should not be named for the Snowden family because they were slave owners 200 years ago. The Snowdens founded Laurel; that's the history. This is about preserving all history, not only white history or African American history but all history.
Mary A. Lehman
Councilwoman, District 1
Former Laurel Historical Society presidentCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun