Mr. Frank Gibson was born in the winter of 1860 near Westminster, Maryland. He was most likely enslaved, although record of his enslaver has not yet been found. His father was Mr. Peter Gibson. His mother may have been Ms. Ann Marie Dorsey. In 1870, the first census after general emancipation, Mr. Gibson is living
Established in the late 1870s by African American Veterans of the Civil War, the historic Ellsworth Cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent Black residents of Carroll County. Over the years, the cemetery has fallen in and out of repair, with various agencies taking care of the maintenance of the grounds. Subject occasionally to vandalism and/or neglect, about 100 headstones mark gravesites.
Since 2013, members of a local Knights of Columbus chapter volunteer to maintain the grounds, along with help from local businesses and Scouting organizations. Now, The Community Foundation of Carroll County owns the cemetery and administers a Field of Interest Fund to restore and maintain the grounds. In addition, a grant in 2020 from the State of Maryland is providing funding for the continued mapping of the cemetery as well as restoration of the memorials.
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Rev. Thomas B. Snowden
Ellsworth Cemetery Established in 1876
Ellsworth Cemetery was created on December 21, 1876, when seven prominent members of the African American community filed Maryland Articles of Incorporation to provide a burial place “for the Colored residents of Westminster, Maryland”. Reuben Walker, David Ireland, William Massey, William Adams, Lewis Dorsey, Nelson Edwards and Samuel Bowens were the incorporators. At least five of the men participated in the bloody Civil War Campaigns of 1863, 1864, and 1865. They recognized Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, a friend of Abraham Lincoln who was the first Union Officer to die in the Civil War. The ground on which the Ellsworth Cemetery stands was sold to the group by the Estate of Elias Yingling for the sum of one dollar on June 11th, 1894.
Ellsworth Cemetery was located on the outskirts of Westminster. Local lore has stated that at the time of its founding, African Americans were not permitted to be buried within the city limits of the town. We have not found any explicit laws or regulations stating this restriction, and at least one African American was buried in the St. John’s Catholic Cemetery during the 1800s and four African Americans were buried in Westminster Cemetery. Whether by law or by practice, the land that the incorporators were able to use was nearly three miles from their home church and outside the city. Cemeteries were regularly segregated across the county, with over 90% of cemeteries being racial restrictive as late as 1953. In 1969, a federal court struck down these restrictions as being in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Terry v. Elmwood Cemetery).
Note that as of June 2023, Ellsworth Cemetery is a part of the City of Westminster.
Six of the seven men who established the cemetery are buried there. The seventh, Private David Ireland, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Mr. George Bruce is buried at Ellsworth Cemetery in Westminster, Maryland. Born in the late summer of 1863, Mr. Bruce was the son of Mr. Henry Bruce and Mrs. Elizabeth (Brightful) Bruce. He grew up free, due to the general emancipation provided by the November 1864 Maryland State Constitution. As a teenager, he lived and
Mr. Luther Brightful’s name is alternatively spelled Brightwell, Brightfull and Brightful. His death certificate reads “Brightful” and therefore we use that spelling here. Mr. Brightful was born to Mr. Harper and Mrs. Mary (Hill) Brightwell/Brightfull/Brightful. The couple were enslaved by Mr. Ezra Buckey. Therefore, infant Luther was enslaved, along with at least three of his
Ms. Cook was born in the winter of 1868, the child of Thomas and Jane/Jennie/Matilda Cook. (Her mother’s name is recorded variously in different documents.) She attended school in one of the newly formed schools for African American children. The family lived in the primarily Black community of Linganore in Frederick County. In the fall
Mr. Charles Behoe was born in 1865 to Mr. William Henry and Emily Behoe. Mr. William Behoe is likely the same man who was manumitted by the Sherman family. He married Ms. Angeline Black in the winter of 1893. Mr. Behoe apparently worked for Mr. Grumbine. Census records for Mr. Behoe and his wife have
Mrs. Rosa Bruce Wright is buried in an unmarked grave in Ellsworth Cemetery in Westminster, Maryland. Born Rosa Bruce, she was the adopted daughter of Mr. Isaac Bruce and Mrs. Emma (Rose) Bruce. It appears that her first name comes from her mother’s maiden name. She was born in late summer of 1887, in Carroll
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As with any major undertaking, funding will be required for professional work to be done. Some headstones need professional restoration. We anticipate the need for additional funding to cover these expenses. Additionally, a fund has been established to provide for the perpetual care of the cemetery when the current volunteers are unable to continue performing ongoing maintenance.
To learn more about the restoration, volunteer at the cemetery, or get information about burials.