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Samuel Semmes

Samuel Middleton Semmes, 1811-1867
Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Samuel Middleton Semmes, 1811-1867

Samuel Semmes was born in Charles County, Maryland, educated at Georgetown College, and admitted to the Cumberland bar in 1833. He was an extremely successful Allegany County attorney and was appointed Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1844. He represented Allegany County as a State Senator in the Maryland General Assembly from 1855 to 1860. His brother was Raphael Semmes, an Admiral of the Confederate Navy during the Civil War.

Samuel Semmes was a slave-owner.

Though born a Roman Catholic, Semmes left the Catholic church after a controversy with a local priest over the baptism of one of Semmes' slaves, and the need for arrangements for his other slaves to attend Mass. Unable to reach an accord with the Priest, Semmes left the Catholic Church and became Episcopalian. When the new Emmanuel Episcopal Church was erected between the years 1849-1851, Semmes insisted upon the construction of a "slave balcony". Although this was done, at a cost of about $600, and his slaves could now attend, they refused to do so because they still considered themselves Roman Catholic.

For more on Samuel Middleton Semmes see the Reverend David Hillhouse Buel biography which appears elsewhere on this site.


Information from "The Church on the Fort - 150 Years of Emmanuel Parish" and Gone But Not Forgotten, Volume I

Photograph by Albert L. Feldstein

Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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