Tomorrow is a big day.
In addition to Cecil Con, a small comic book convention in North East, Maryland, I’m going to visit four cemeteries in the area. My dad’s side of the family comes from what I call “the borderlands of Maryland and Pennsylvania”; there are Gibsons and Browns and Reynolds and Russells that crisscross the Mason-Dixon Line for two centuries.
Though maybe I shouldn’t call Cecil Con “small”; they’re expecting “anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 attendees” tomorrow.
I’ve decided to go to a baseball game, too. The Wilmington Blue Rocks are playing the Lynchburg Hillcats in Wilmington. I’ll be half an hour away in Cecil County, so why not? I’ve heard that Wilmington serves a “Scrapple Burger,” and that’s almost absurd enough to go in search of.
Four cemeteries, a comic book convention, and a baseball game.
My plan, right now, is to leave Yoe about seven. That should put me in Rising Sun about 8:30. Google Maps suggested I take what I called “The Trip of Death,” the route Google Navigate suggested I take when I came home from Philcon 2016 and which I vowed I would never take again. (I wrote at the time: “I turned onto a forlorn road called Paper Mill Road where the speed limit was 15. It was a strange road, unmarked and very nearly a single lane, that switched back down one side of a cliff, and at the bottom there was a two lane bridge, built no more than five feet off the stream, that was at a 90 degree angle from the direction I had come, and and on the other side the switchbacks up the opposite side resumed.”) I am going to take a slightly longer, but more sensible route — down 83, across Maryland through Jarrettsville to Route 1, and then across the Conowingo Dam.
I will hit Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Rising Sun first, then Hopewell United Methodist Church in Port Deposit, then Principio United Methodist Church in Perryville. My great-great-grandparents Alexander and Albina (Brown) Gibson are buried at Ebenezer, my great-grandparents Edward and Olive (Russell) Gibson and grandfather David Gibson are buried at Hopewell, and my great-grandparents Charles and Ethel (Reynolds) Brown and grandmother Helen (Brown) Gibson are buried at Principio. There are also other assorted relations at Ebenezer and Hopewell.
While I’ve looked at every cemetery from orbit thanks to Google Maps so I have an idea of the lay of the land, I have no real idea what I’m going to find when I’m there, so I’ll allow myself an hour to an hour and a half to walk around, take photographs, and make notes. It’s like the first time I visited Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC, where my great-great-grandfather William Gardner is buried. I had maps and locations, but until I went there to look for myself I didn’t know what I would find. (I remain impressed to this day that, even though William’s grave is unmarked, I found it, though it took a second visit with a better map to confirm that I’d found it.) Whatever I expect, I know I’ll find something I never knew or even suspected was there, like my bewilderingly improbable discovery of Maurice Gardner’s headstone back in May.
After Principio, my plan gets a little more flexible, as I can either go to the convention or to St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal in North East. At St. Mary Anne’s are my great-great-grandparents William and Alfonsa (Howell) Reynolds (the parents of Ethel Reynolds) and my great-great-great-grandparents Levi and Margaret (Reynolds) Reynolds, the parents of William Reynolds. Either way, that will take me up to late afternoon, and from there it’s a quick jaunt over to Wilmington’s Daniel S. Frawley Stadium for a night of Carolina League baseball.
And tomorrow’s going to be a great day for it — eighty degrees and sunny.
That’s the plan. No plan survives contact with the enemy, of course, but that’s why I’m flexible. If I need more time, I’ll take the time and make adjustments. My only constraints are that the comic con ends at 4 o’clock and the basegame starts in Wilmington at 6:05. I think, within my framework, I can accomplish all of this. And if I don’t, if there’s more to see that I don’t have the time for, I can always return, because there are always more cemeteries to explore.
Post header photo, Mount Harmon Historic Home in Cecil County, Md., by Chesapeake Bay Program, licensed Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0