Saturday, February 7, 2009

Not Yet Eligible

For the next two or three days I'll be posting blogs that focus on PTAP team members and their accomplishments outside of the Port Tobacco project; but, of course, I'll show how at least two of those efforts have implications for our exploration and interpretation of the town.

This Sunday, PTAP member Scott Lawrence celebrates his 46th (?) birthday. I don't know exactly how many years, but it is less than the minimum of 50 years necessary to be considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Below is a picture of Scott.

Scott Lawrence posing with the Edgeston Stone, St. Nicholas Cemetery, 2005.

No, Scott isn't shopping for future needs. This is the monument of an African American Civil War veteran that we re-erected at St. Nicholas cemetery at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County, Maryland. It may even be the very first buried monument that we excavated and re-erected of what is now well over 100 recovered markers. The cemetery has been nothing but an empty lawn since 1943 when the Navy toppled and buried the markers during war-time construction of the base. Scott's perseverance in securing federal and state permission to restore the cemetery has borne fruit and this all-volunteer effort may well achieve completion by the end of this calendar year.

Friday we recovered 11 more headstones and several footstones. No doubt Scott will spend the better part of this, his birthday weekend, repairing four of the broken stones and cleaning the seven that we re-erected. St. Nicholas is located in the midst of a secure military installation. Most people in St. Mary's County, including those whose ancestors lie beneath these markers, may never have the opportunity to visit the restored cemetery, but at least they can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that the families who gave up their homes and farms for their country in a time of great need will not be forgotten. And the people of Port Tobacco can gain satisfaction in knowing that the techniques Scott developed and implemented at St. Nicholas will have immeasurable value when one day we begin the search for, and restoration of, the village cemetery that was buried by sediments in the early 20th century.

Happy birthday Scott. I look forward to nominating you to the National Register in a few years.


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