A quarter of an acre lies barren in the middle of St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church's cemetery in Jessup.

Legend has it that the ground, without markers and unkempt, is the resting place of slaves who had worked the fields of Andersonville, in what is now Jessup.

The empty plot is surrounded by the headstones of those with names such as Blob, Miller and Eggerls who built the town, as well as the sanctuary.

Max Blob, whose property near what is now the Baltimore-Washington Parkway became Blob's Park, was one of the principal founders of the church, said the Rev. Bill Moorman, pastor of St. Lawrence. "The area was founded by him and the immigrant girls he brought over to work the fields."

About 125 years worth of history can be found on the church property, located at the intersection of Route 175 and the parkway. The church has gone through nearly as many changes as the name of the town surrounding it.

What was once a mission church with a mostly German immigrant parish has become a melting pot for today's more transient population of military and government workers. The parish now numbers more than 300 families. Moorman hopes to pull his congregation together to give the church a good grooming Oct. 6, to begin celebrating its 125th anniversary.

The mission church, built in 1866, thrived first in a town called Andersonville, which was later called Hooverville, and, still later, called Jessup's Cut.

More unusual, perhaps, is the close relationship between the church and the state prisons in the Jessup area -- a situation Moorman says dates back more than 100 years.

"There was a large German immigrant population at the time (in 1866)," related Moorman. "I feel certain there were already prisons in the area.

"We are a unique parish in that it has seven prisons or jails in the parish" said Moorman, who took over for the Rev. Bernard Harding in January.

"I often make the joke, I know where half of my parishioners are all the time," referring to the inmates housed in nearby institutions, including the Maryland House of Correction, Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Brockbridge Correctional Center, and several more.

The church has planned a full slate of activities to celebrate the anniversary next September, but no exact dates have been set for the celebration. The congregation is also in the process of putting together a photo directory of parishioners.

In the meantime, workers are getting a head start on improving the church's landscaping by planting 50 azaleas and several juniper trees. The church-sponsored Cub Scout Pack No. 471, along with the church youth group and other members of the congregation will be doing the landscaping under the supervision of Cubmaster Lawton Mickle and church groundskeeper Charles Levay both of Severn, will oversee the project.

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