Making Cecil County Plans

The weather is looking good for the Fair Hill Scottish Games this weekend; Accuweather currently has a sunny and lightly breezy day with a high of 75 and a minuscule chance of late afternoon thunderstorms.

When I was in Virginia a month ago, my mom asked me when I was going to a Celtic festival this year. “Well, Annapolis is on a year break, and Mid-Maryland is on a year break, and there’s the one in Shrewsbury but I didn’t like it a couple of years ago…”

“What about the Scottish Games in Fair Hill?” she said. “Your father and I went many, many years ago.”

“Hmm, I think I saw something about that on Facebook last year…”

I’ve been looking for a reason to go out to Cecil County. There are ancestors to find. Last April I checked out four different cemeteries in Cecil County where grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and even great-great-great-grandparents are buried. As I think I mentioned there, I also have ancestors who came from the Fair Hill area that I’ve not located yet (and are generally unknown), and the Scottish games would be the opportunity I’ve been looking for. I’ll have to buy a ticket at the gate — I didn’t buy one online before they closed that off last week — and there will be stuff to see, bagpipes to hear, and even haggis to eat. Plus, a vendor might have a Celtic-inspired Mr. Boh t-shirt for sale. (Backstory here.)

I have identified three church cemeteries to visit in Cecil County as well — Union United Methodist Church outside of Elkton, Cherry Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery between Elkton and Fair Hill, and St. John’s United Methodist Church at the the Mason-Dixon Line between Elkton and Oxford.

Who am I looking for? Russell and Harding ancestors. My great-great-great-grandmother Margaret Harding was buried, according to her obituary in the Cecil Whig, in 1884 at Union. (The obituary also talks about the sermon that was preached on Revelations.) While I’ve not found an obituary for her husband Caleb yet, it’s likely that he, too, assuming they weren’t relocated elsewhere, might be at Union. Could their daughter Amelia and her husband Alexander Russell be there, too? I’ve no idea. Cherry Hill is more likely to me (Amelia’s obituary in the Cecil Whig indicates she died in Cherry Hill, but not where he was buried), so I will scour both.

Note: There are a Caleb and Margaret Harding buried in Oxford’s Oxford Cemetery. They are not my great-great-great-grandparents. Those are my great-great-grandmother Amelia’s brother (and veteran of the battle of Antietam) and his wife. David Harding, who took in my great-grandmother when her parents died, is another of Amelia’s brothers and is also buried in Oxford Cemetery. It’s amusing to me now, in a way, that when I lived near Oxford almost twenty years ago I didn’t know any of this.

That’s my plan. Cecil County on Saturday. Like Indiana Jones says, 90% of archaeology — and grave hunting is archaeology of a very specific kind — happens in the library (or, in this case, the Googles). I’ve done my library research, I’ve examined these locations with Google Maps’ satellite photgraphy, now I’m going to hit the ground. I may not find anything, like that visit to Baltimore’s Mt. Carmel Cemetery in search of Thomas Feenhagen on a lark and a hunch, but at least I will be able to say I tried. Depending on the time, I might even go to a Lancaster Barnstormers baseball game on my way home.

And, who knows? I may find something I never expected, something I didn’t even know was going to be there. That’s half the fun of it anyway.

Header photo “Elk River” by TC Davis, licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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