Not much is known about Ms. Rachel Ridgely, who is buried in an unmarked grave in Ellsworth Cemetery, near Westminster, Maryland.
Ms. Ridgely was born about March 1840 in Maryland. She was likely enslaved at birth, although her enslavers have not been found. She may have never married.
Ms. Ridgely apparently lived most of her life at the Carroll County Alms House. The Alms House had been established about the same time that the county was founded in 1837. In the years before a formal Federal welfare system, most counties and cities provided for those people who could not provide for themselves. In Carroll County, those provisions included an “outdoor pension” — a small stipend that would allow someone to continue living independently. Others lived at the Alms House, where they would work in the nearby fields as they were able.
Ms. Ridgely’s obituary states that she moved into the Alms House sometime during the 1870s. The 1900 Census found her there, enumerated as an “inmate” of the County Home.
She died in the fall of 1904, of stomach cancer. Oddly, her death certificate states that she was about 45 years old, while her obituary states that she was 70 years old. Given that her birth year was documented as March 1840 in the 1900 census, we believe it is more likely that the obituary was correct.
Ms. Rachel Ridgely was buried in an unmarked grave in Ellsworth Cemetery, near Westminster, Maryland.