Wednesday, July 30, 2008
From time to time, we will offer corrections to errors that appear in publications, unpublished technical reports, and on the web. Some of those errors will be ours. We do not intend to be snarky about these corrections...anyone who takes on the task of collecting, sorting, analyzing, and interpreting historical data deserves kudos.
This evening I thought I would deal with a misconception concerning the well-known, but as yet silt covered cemetery at the north end of Port Tobacco (not to be confused with the early cemetery we discovered on the south side of town in June). In their book, Times of Port Tobacco, John and Roberta Wearmouth included an appendix that discusses a purported addition to the town cemetery made by the Reverend Lemuel Wilmer, long time rector for Port Tobacco Parish (1822-1869). They offer an extended quotation from an unreferenced document that they date to around 1848 (p. 229). I'll reproduce a portion of it here:
"I give to the Vestry of Port Tobacco Parish and their successors forever all the land which may belong to me, included within certain ditches...making three acres and a half....The most if not all the 3½ acres is called Pleasant Fields, purchased of Sam Adams--if any part of another tract it is called Widow's Pleasure (tract names bold in the book)."
Even by itself, this would be a very large cemetery for a small town like Port Tobacco.
The tract names, however, clearly place this land donation in Piney Branch, near St. Charles, just west of Rev. Wilmer's house site and about a dozen miles to the northeast of Port Tobacco. Indeed, we could find no evidence that Rev. Wilmer ever owned land in Port Tobacco. He preached there and at Piney Branch, but lived at the latter location.
The tract reconstruction below, undertaken for Chaney Enterprises back in 2003, indicates the location of the Episcopal Church at Piney Branch with a large X. The report is available on request.
Of course, we still need to define and delineate both cemeteries; but gleaning as much accurate archival information as possible is critical to our success in the field, not to mention conserving scarce resources, specifically time and money.