Simpson Christian ChurchCemetery Project

Written by Evan Brumfield – Maryland Branch Manager

Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping had the privilege to work with one of Frederick County Maryland’s oldest African American cemeteries, now under the care of the Simpson Christian Community Church. The project consisted of removing all existing trees along the cemetery perimeter to facilitate the expansion of new burial plots. The church, originally started on land purchased over 200 years ago in June of 1794, began as the first religious institution and school in the town of New Market.The meeting house was built of logs from timber around the surrounding area and stood on North Alley near a wagon trail named Quaker Road that cut through the town. This first church was called Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church where in 1852 white Methodist Church members attempted to stop and claim the church due to slavery and suspicions that it was part of the Underground Railroad helping slaves escape to free states and Canada. The Quakers intervened and attested to the fact that the church did belong to the African Americans even though a legal deed could not be located, which was quickly rectified and recorded in the Frederick County Court House.Along with being a church, the log building held an important role as a school and was burned down numerous times by Slaveholders suspecting black people were being taught to read and write during a time when the town was known to be a large slave-holding area. Records show this went on many years and only ceased after the state adopted its new Constitution on November 1, 1864, officially ending slavery in Maryland. As a result, the church wasted no time stepping up its efforts for education and requesting assistance from the “Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People.”Years later in 1948, the Bethel church obtained new land across town and erected a new church on Main Street, reusing some of the reclaimed timber from the former church building. The church survived slavery, Jim Crow laws, social injustices, and many other hardships over the years. It continues to be a current vital religious institution for the community and can still be seen today as an integral reminder of this country’s history.Cited Source: Information researched by, Kathleen I. Snowden 2002