Cemetery Map and Burials

 

The number of burials in Old Berlin Cemetery is unknown. Historical records and remaining tombstones provide evidence of about 150 burials, although the number is likely higher. Research on burials relied on the 1959 inventory by James Holdcraft in his book Names in Stone, newspaper obituaries and stories in the Brunswick Herald and Brunswick Blade Times, the Find a Grave database (www.findagrave.com), as well as actual inscriptions on the stones, many of which were worn and difficult to read, so it is likely there are inconsistencies in data.

Most of the burials took place between 1870 and 1920. These dates coincide with the development of the town as a canal and rail transportation route. Around 1915 Park Heights Cemetery was opened in Brunswick and that also accounts for fewer burials after that date. Old Berlin Cemetery was probably at or near full capacity at that time.

The oldest remaining headstone has the inscription “M.C. 1810” but an older stone (no longer in the cemetery) for a John Shephard who died in 1806 was noted in Holdcraft’s inventory. The last burial occurred in 1948.

 

Cemetery Layout

The cemetery is laid out with four family plots in the north end (nearest B Street). These family plots were fenced in and were likely private plots separated from the rest of the cemetery, commonly known as “the old burying ground.”  The four families are Kidwell, Evans, Barger, and Lutman/Ray/House.

Less is known about those buried in the rest of the cemetery. Many of the headstones were either moved or fell into disrepair. In the 1960’s the south end of the cemetery was used as a baseball field. Local residents recall seeing stones knocked over and stacked off to the side, leaving just four stones to use as bases. Some of the moved stones were recovered. Today, this area has an “Orphan Stone” section which is made up of 29 stones whose original location are unknown. Four additional stones were returned by an anonymous person in October 2020 and will be added to the orphan area.

 

Notable Burials

It is interesting to look at the lives of people buried in Old Berlin Cemetery because they provide a glimpse into what the area was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Little is known about many of the deceased in this cemetery, but we know that many were connected to important aspects of Berlin/Brunswick history.

 

Civil War Veterans -- Three months after the Civil War broke out with the attack on Ft. Sumter, NC, President Lincoln authorized the organization of “Home Brigades” in Maryland, whose primary purpose was to guard the southern border from Confederate invasion, and more particularly to guard the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad.

The First Regiment Potomac Home Brigade (1st PHB) was organized in Frederick, MD, in August 1861 under the command of Col. William P. Maulsby, Sr.  Among the 600-700 men who joined the 1st PHB were 7 men from the town of Berlin, MD, population 300.

This unit spent the winter of 1861-62 in an encampment 1 ½ miles north of Frederick City preparing for their military duties. While their main assignment was to guard the canal and the railroad,they were drawn into other significant battles. They were at Harpers Ferry when it was captured by Stonewall Jackson’s army in September 1862, and subsequently sent to Camp Parole (near Annapolis) where they spent the winter.  When a prisoner exchange occurred in March, the 1st PHB was sent back to guard the railroad. During the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, they were engaged at Culp’s Hill.  A year later, in July 1864, they were involved in the battle of Monocacy.

Several of these Civil War veterans are buried in Old Berlin Cemetery.  Further research may discover other Civil War enlistees from Berlin, but the ones known at this time are Leander Barger, Hezekiah Shilling, Henry Maylon Sigafoose, and Battle Bond. Rufus P. Bruner was originally buried here, but was later interred at Sharpsburg Cemetery.

 

B&O Railroad Workers -- When the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad moved its freight yard to Brunswick in 1890, it employed many workers and created a boomtown. Along with good wages and prosperity came danger for many workers on the rails. Newspaper accounts of those times tell harrowing stories such as this one. James Barger was only 49 years old in 1916 when he was struck and killed by a yard engine that came up behind him as he was supervising the shifting of his train. Barger was a freight conductor for the B&O.Many of the men buried in this cemetery were described as railroad brakemen, firemen, conductors, or simply railroad hands. Many of the women and children buried here were family of those railroad workers.

 

C&O Canal Workers -- When Chesapeake & Ohio Canal construction reached Berlin in 1834, it provided a new way to ship raw materials and finished goods in a waterway along the Potomac River. The Canal operated through a series of locks that lifted (or lowered) boats as they navigated the Canal waters. At each lock there was a lockhouse and a lockkeeper who managed the boat traffic and tended the mules that pulled the boats. John Henry Rench was a lockkeeper for Lock #29 at Lander, about 5 miles downstream from Berlin/Brunswick. When he died in 1877 at the age of 38, he was buried in Old Berlin Cemetery. John Scoll Sigafoose was born in 1852 and became the lockkeeper at Brunswick Lock #30. He was also one of the first policemen after the town was incorporated. He lived a long life and was buried here in 1948.

 

Please visit the Stories page to see more detailed descriptions of people laid to rest in Old Berlin Cemetery.

Official Website of the City of Brunswick, Maryland
City Hall | 1 West Potomac St. | Brunswick, MD 21716 | (301) 834-7500 | Hours 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. | CityHall@BrunswickMD.gov
Photos for website contributed by Vaughn Ripley, Jerry Knight, Dave Kersey, Sean Hoyden, and Brunswick Crossing