Carved in Stone

From the first moment I laid eyes on Jacob and Mary Snader’s tombstones at Pipe Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery in Carroll County, Maryland I have been intrigued by their stoic beauty. I was filled with curiosity about the identity of the craftsman, the artist who rendered these monuments: Who was he? And how did my ancestors come to find him?

I’m familiar with New England tombstone craftsmanship: skulls, skulls with wings, skulls with wings and big noses and crowns. Entire studies have been done on gravestone craftsmen to identify them, their symbols and trademarks, their craft. My Connecticut ancestors have some very interesting tombstone art as do most of the other tombstones in their cemeteries.

While New England gravestone carvers have risen to the level of celebrity status in genealogical circles and cemetery studies, tombstone craftsmen in Maryland have remained more or less anonymous, to my great disappointment. That is, until I stumbled on Mary Ann Ashcraft’s research studies on African American gravestone carver Sebastian Hammond. And some of my questions were finally answered.

I never imagined as I stood in Pipe Creek Cemetery admiring Jacob and Mary Snader’s tombstones that they had been carved by an illiterate African American who used the proceeds from his craft to purchase not only his own freedom but also his wife and children. And he crafted these stones from start to finish by quarrying, hauling, cutting, shaping, designing and carving the local greenstone himself, chiseled so deeply that the lettering appears as fresh today as it did over a hundred and sixty years ago.

Not all of my questions have been answered. I still have not discovered why Jacob and Mary Snader’s family chose Sebastian Hammond to craft their tombstones and what, if any, connection existed between them. Regardless of the answers that elude me, I feel a personal connection to Sebastian Hammond and am grateful to him and thankful for his legacy, not only for the memorials he crafted for my ancestors but also for the simple, ageless beauty of his handiwork. These stones bear witness to a remarkable man with an unforgettable story and an exceptional talent…sacred to his memory.

I’m also very grateful to Mary Ann Ashcraft for bringing Sebastian Hammond out of the shadows. Learn more about his story:

Mary Ann Ashcraft, “Carving a Path to Freedom: The Life and Work of African American Stonecarver Sebastian ‘Boss’ Hammond” in Markings XXI, 2004,pp 12-39. Available on-line at

Mary Ann Ashcraft, “Sacred to the Memory: The Sonecarving of Sebastian Hammond”, in Catoctin History, Spring 2003, pp 20-27.

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Land of the Free

On the Fourth of July I often ponder my ancestors who supported the cause of American Independence in a variety of ways: the sacrifices, the choices, the consequences, the benefits, the costs. I have many direct ancestors with proven acts of patriotic service and duty. I have researched these ancestors diligently. For the most part, they chose sides well. When the dust cleared, they were still standing while the Brits were packing their bags for a hasty departure. I take pride in their victory. I’m grateful and appreciative for their service and for their good fortune to land on the winning side.

I like to shake my family tree to see what nuts will fall out. I’m always poking around for Revolutionary service for my ancestors that lack such. It must be out there somewhere in a hidey hole waiting to be discovered. So I shake, and prod, and poke. Something is usually hiding in the hidey hole. It’s not always exactly what I’m looking for.

One of my many distinguished and interesting great plus grandfathers is Philip Englar who sailed from Sweeden when he was ten with his brother Jacob and Uncle Adam who was a sea captain. They landed in Philadelphia in 1748, went to Chester County, Pennsylvania and then on to Maryland in 1764 where he settled in the Pipe Creek Community. The Genealogy of the Englar Famliy, [p 7] claims he was the first resident minister and associate founding of German Baptist faith in America.

Philip Engler led Pipe Creek Church from the end of the American Revolution to 1810. He was characterized as being stern, serious, strict, and pious. He held to the Church of the Brethren teachings against bearing arms. Philip Englar of Pipe Creek was fined 7 March 1776 6 ½ pounds for failure to appear for mandatory muster duty. He cannot be found in any records providing supplies, paying a supply tax, providing a substitute, serving in a civil or patriotic capacity during the Revolution. And paying a fine for refusing to attend muster duty is not valid service. This is anti-service.

Although I cannot fully understand the reasons for my forefather’s choice to turn his back on the cause of the American Colonists, I can image he made this choice based on his religious beliefs and the tenants of his faith. Ironically Philip’s new government held the basic human rights of personal liberty and freedom of religious beliefs in high regard. My American Revolution Patriots served and sacrificed so that fellow Americans like my Philip Englar would be free to exercise these basic rights. My Philip Engar was a non-enroller. He failed to fulfill his obligation to take up arms for the purpose of defending his new home. I like to think he stood up for his deep seated faith and held strong to his moral integrity. Something to think about on the 4th of July.

Read more about Philip Englar:
J. Maurice Henry, History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland, pp 44-48.
Maryland Historical Magazine, 1916, vol 11, pp 248-249.
H. Austin Cooper, The Church of the Singing Bells: A Source Book on the Early Families, Places, Dates, Land Tracts & Events of Frederick, Carroll, Washington Counties, Maryland, pp 327, 331
Genealogy of the Englar Family: The Descendants of Philip Englar 1736-1817 Traced Down for Five Generations from 1736, pp 7-9

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Being Connected in a Big World

Being connected is a part of my genetic make-up, part of my heritage and I hope a part of my legacy. Connecting and relating is like breathing. And although I expect to discover connections as I go about my life, I never cease to be amazed by the blessings they bring.

It’s a big world out there. For most of my life I have remained on the East Coast. Recently I have overcome my fear of flying and now hop on planes without a second thought, eager to get a window seat so I can take in all the scenery below. I thrill to the adventure of exploring new places, meeting new people and taking lots of pictures. I gather new facebook friends wherever I go.

Recently I traveled to Norman, Oklahoma where I was co-leader for a two-day genealogy workshop for the Oklahoma Daughters of the American Revolution. On the last day of the workshop I mentioned that I had just submitted a supplemental DAR application to establish a new patriot, my ancestor William Fundenburg of Frederick County, Maryland. During the break one of the attendees, a Funderburk from Texas, greeted me by saying she had visited the Schloss Burg Castle in Germany—ancestral home of my Fundenburg ancestors and that her husband is a cousin. Next a new Oklahoma friend exclaimed that she is also a Funderburk descendant. When announcing to the class that the three of us had just discovered our connection, another Oklahoma Daughter jumped up and exclaimed that she too is a Funderburk cousin! So we did the next logical thing—we embraced and had a picture taken!

The first two cousins descend from Devauld Funderburk who survived a ship wreck off the coast of South Carolina. The third descends from Henry Funderburk, nephews of my Walter Funderburg. All three men left their homeland for America. Our common ancestor was my Walter’s father Adolph Von Der Burg and his wife Princess Elizabeth of Berg whose line of descent can be traced back to Adolph I von der Berg 1078-1152, the builder of Schloss-Burg. His wife was Adelheid, daughter of Count Dietrich of Cleve. I’m not kidding. Look it up in Guy B. Funderburk, Funderburk Castles and Conquests, 1975, pp 19-27. A princess, a count and a castle in my family tree—a heritage I share with three cousins I met in the Heartland at a DAR genealogy workshop! And to think it only took us 10 generations to reconnect!

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Pilgrimage to Prospect

I spent my day on a pilgrimage—researching my Cronise and Fundenburg ancestors. The journey began with a visit to the Frederick County Historical Society in Frederick, Maryland. And I hit the jackpot! I spent over $60 on photocopies of letters from the 1850’s written to and from my ancestors Catherine Fundenburg and Jacob Cronise who were living in Monrovia, Maryland as well as research notes on both families from a cousin in the 1950’s. I also found a picture of a portrait of Catherine Fundenburg Cronise as well as some of her children.

After paying off my photocopy bill, I drove north of Frederick to the little village of Utica where Catherine and Jacob lived just after they were married. A cousin had written that Jacob’s abandoned mill was still standing in the early 1950’s but I was not able to find it. My guess is that it’s lost to the ages.

My pilgrimage ended in the nearby village of Lewistown where I found the home of Catherine’s parents Walter Fundenburg and Elizabeth Studebaker—“Prospect 1776”, where Catherine was born in 1784 and where she and Jacob married in 1806. The house is still standing and is beautiful. It is now called “Poff’s Prospect”. Walter, Elizabeth and several young Fundenburg and Cronise children are buried in the family plot in the middle of a hay field with a beautiful view of the Catoctin Mountains.

After the owner’s son turned off the electric fence, I walked across the field to visit the graves and took photos of the tombstones. I then enjoyed a nice visit with the current owners of the farm and learned they raise 20 head of Angus cattle, and enough corn to fill the silo to feed the cattle. It is a peaceful spot not far from the busy highway 15. Over the years I have passed by numerous times without realizing the significance that particular farm held for me and my ancestors—our Old Old Old homeplace! And I did feel right at home there. I’m thankful it is still preserved and maintained and used as a working farm after 234 years of continuous residence. This farm passed out of my family many years ago but I still feel a connection to this place today.

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My hometown is Savage, Maryland and except for the four years I spent in Turner Hall at Shepherd College, I have lived in Howard County my entire life. My mother still lives in the same house where I was raised. I visit often and have fond memories of my hometown and my old neighbors and classmates.

However, I was drawn like a magnet to the old stomping grounds of my father and the previous five generations of his family. Our Revolutionary War patriot John Adam Link built his house outside Shepherdstown in 1788 and the family never left until 1954 when my father began his teaching career at Warren County High School in Front Royal Virginia. Somehow during those 166 years a homing instinct was imprinted in the DNA of my family, a unique gene mutation which was passed on to me, a Maryland girl with Jefferson County roots. And my Jefferson County roots keep calling me home.

The matriarch of my family, my Aunt Patsy is gone and her house on the old Uvilla Road that served as the nucleus for family gatherings has since passed out of the family. My father who taught me to jump hills on the Shepherdstown Pike has also passed on although each familiar curve and hill remains. And the only thing left of my Granny’s farm on the Uvilla Road is the old silo. The home place was demolished and a 1970’s split level stands at the end of the long shady lane.

Shepherdstown has grown in the years since my father left. Many of the farms were sold to make way for new housing developments. The town now has a McDonalds, a Dominos Pizza, a Rite Aid, and a Food Lion! Near by Charles Town boasts a Super Wal-Mart along with an offering of chain stores and restaurants that rival the Big City. So much has changed but Dad and Aunt Patsy would still recognize this place, a small town still—where I can drive by the post office parking lot on a Saturday morning and have to pull over to park so I can get out and visit with relatives and old friends who have been connected to my family for more than just a few generations—who still recognize me as Jackie’s little girl.

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Rest in Peace

My great-plus uncles William H. V. Cronise, age 25 and Albert D. W. Cronise, age 23 left their family behind in Monrovia, Frederick County, Maryland and set out for a California adventure by way of the Isthmus of Panama in 1850. Soon after boarding the steamship Panama and departing the Isthmus, Albert became ill with a fever and died off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. His last wishes were for his body to be returned to Monrovia and buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery. William preserved Albert’s body in a barrel full of alcohol collected from his ship mates. According to William’s reports back to family upon reaching San Francisco, Albert’s body was quickly decomposing due to the poor quality of the alcohol. So he buried Albert in San Francisco promising his parents he would return with Albert’s remains after they had completely decomposed. He fulfilled his brother’s last wish and his promise to his parents. Albert’s body traveled the 2,800 miles back to Monrovia where it was buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

At the time of Albert’s death, William expressed his own wishes to be buried in Pleasant Hill with his family. He became a successful merchant and entrepreneur in San Francisco, married a beautiful widow and raised his stepdaughter and son. He died there in 1896 and was buried in his adopted home presumably in the Masonic Cemetery with his wife and in-laws. Unfortunately in the 1930’s, the graveyards of San Francisco had evolved into prime real estate. The cemeteries in San Francisco were closed to make room for the University of San Francisco and other more important endeavors. All of the graves were opened and the remains of thousands and thousands of bodies were removed to San Mateo County. The tombstones were used for filler to create the on and off ramps for the Golden Gate Bridge and for San Francisco Bay sea walls.

Albert’s body suffered the indignities of being stored in a barrel of alcohol, temporarily buried in a foreign land, dug up and shipped 2,800 miles until it finally reached his chosen and hopefully permanent destination—home surrounded by family. His older brother William was buried in his adopted home of San Francisco with his California family which turned out to be a temporary resting place. Forty years later William’s remains were removed from his favorite city and reinterred in San Mateo County. His tombstone is reportedly living amongst the fishes in San Francisco Bay. I’m horrified that William’s body was removed from his beloved San Francisco and permanently separated from his tombstone—his marker, the memorial to his life. I’m saddened by the disrespect shown to his remains and to his descendants. William made it his mission to return Albert home so he could rest in peace. Unfortunately William lacked such an advocate. I hope his soul has found peace after all this time. It certainly unsettles me.

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Airing our Clean Laundry in Public

I confess to being a fanatic about hanging out my wet clean laundry out on the clothes line to dry. Going green by saving electricity is not my primary goal although saving some change is an added bonus. Believe it or not, this is a revered family ritual followed for generations on end and I experience immense satisfaction from continuing the tradition. And as I’m hanging the clothes and taking them down I feel one with my mom, my Mama Mac and my great aunt Stalice, my clothes line mentors. I also receive the added bonus of reveling in the peace and joy from being outside; I have a sense of accomplishment from drying several loads of laundry all at once without the use of the dryer and the clothes smell so fresh and clean.

These clothes line secrets are guarded like treasured recipes. An efficient snap of each piece of clothing before hanging makes all the difference. I can still remember my grandmother’s sharp snap that eliminated all wrinkles! Smaller lighter items go in the middle with the larger and heavier items on the outside. Skip lines here and there to maximize air flow to speed drying, My family took pride in linking clothes together so that one pin would anchor two items on each end but I find that pinning them up separately facilitates air flow. And if heavy items like jeans are taking too long to dry, turn them around to speed them up. Another trick–send heavy items through a second spin cycle.

Get an early start and when the clothes are dry, take them down. Once the dew is set the clothes have to be spread out around the house to dry. And once those clothes are pleasantly flapping in the breeze, keep one eye on the weather. Many a time I’ve rushed out to the line to save dry laundry from falling raindrops–you would be surprised to see how fast those clothes jump off the line. Planning and strategy is crucial. Laundry days are planned around the weather forecast. And no mowing or weed whacking in the back yard while the clothes are hanging on the line.

I have been hanging clothes since I was old enough to reach the line and before that I was handing out clothes pins and gathering them up at the end of the process. I learned so much about life while visiting at the clothes line and while working together as a team although most of my clothes line work these days is done solo. Who would believe that hanging my clothes on the line would be a spiritual experience for me! I feel a deep connection to my women folk that bridges time and space, a deep appreciation for my loved ones in my life as I keep this tradition alive in suburbia. Now my 6 year old niece hands me the clothes pins and the tradition is passed on!

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Picture tells the story

I’m stretching myself technologically with this blog thing. Curiosity got the better of this cat and I’m forcing myself to jump in after thinking about it for way too long. This is a test, an experiment of sorts. Testing the waters of blogging as a venue for sharing my genealogy projects and discoveries. It is my hope that as I process these discoveries I will gain a new level of insight and understanding of the ties that bind families together across the generations . And if I’m lucky, I will uncover a skeleton or two along the way. They say dead men tell tales. I’m counting on that!

Now for the explanation of the family picture that serves as my header. My great-uncle Albert Link, my grandmother John Elsie Link (yes John—that was not a typo, another blog topic to come), and my great-uncle Lester Waite Link along with their parents Estelle Mae Snader and John Luther Link. I have an interesting family. Humor is the glue that holds us together. We laugh until we cry then we laugh some more. Then every time we rehash that story , we laugh and cry all over again. The humor draws us in and makes us members of a tight group. I don’t analyze this phenomenon, I experience it without really understanding it.

When I picked up this picture of my grandmother and her family, I experienced a revelation and in an instant I understood why Dad and his siblings related in that way and why my family bonds that way also. I see all of us in that picture—we are family still regardless of time and death. We are family. And we laugh and we live life to the fullest and we hang on to each other tightly, with love and we don’t let go because we are family. We also grab life by the tail and we enjoy the ride! Because when all has been said and done, we will have an awesome story to tell!

So the love and life in this old fading picture reflects the legacy left to us by the Links and the Snaders. They are kin and they might be dead but they live on where it counts.

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