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Westminster cemetery for black veterans wins African American Heritage Preservation Grant from state

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that Ellsworth Cemetery in Westminster was one of 12 Maryland beneficiaries of nearly $1 million in funding to repair and restore cultural and historic sites.

The cemetery was awarded $65,000 in state funds. The grants awarded ranged from $12,250 to $100,000.

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Ellsworth Cemetery, which is next to the Wawa at 805 Leidy Road, was established in 1876 by six black Union Army veterans. The cemetery has seen much wear and tear, along with vandalism, through the decades since its establishment. Members of the Carroll County community have been coming together for years to maintain and restore the cemetery to its former glory.

According to Daniel Kloss, a member of the Knights of Columbus who is working to restore the cemetery, it was created because black individuals weren’t allowed to be buried within Westminster city limits.

The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust awarded the funds. The African American Heritage Preservation Program’s goal for awarding these grants is to identify and preserve buildings, communities and sites of historical and cultural importance to the African American community in Maryland, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Our administration is pleased to provide funding that will improve and preserve sites that promote African American heritage in Maryland,” Hogan said in the news release. “It is essential that we recognize and understand the history of these sites and their significance in the African American experience in our state and our nation.”

Also awarded were: the Fairmount Heights World War II Monument in Prince George’s County; the Liberty Grace Church of God in Baltimore City; the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dorchester County; the Warren Historic Site Church and School in Montgomery County; Emmanuel Episcopal Church tunnels in Allegany County; McConchie One-Room School in Charles County; Zion United Methodist Church in Caroline County; Robert W. Johnson Community Center in Washington County; Scotterley Plantation Slave Cabin in St. Mary’s County; Ashbury M.E. Church in Talbot County; and Fruitland Community Center in Wicomico County.

The Community Foundation of Carroll County, a nonprofit based in Westminster, and the Manchester chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization of the Catholic Church, have been working together to restore the cemetery’s former glory. The Knights of Columbus chapter is based at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.

When contacted by the Times, Kloss couldn’t say much about their intentions with the funding until they better understand their limitations.

“We want to wait and see how we’re directed in our ability and where we can spend the money and where we can’t,” he said.

Audrey Cimino, executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, is excited that they were awarded the grant.

“We are thrilled because it is such a beautiful site,” she said. “It’s such an exciting thing, and we can’t wait to get started.”

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