History of Percy Cemetery
owner of any stock of any kind to permit any of said stock to enter the said enclosure; and any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than twenty dollars nor more than fifty dollars. It seems clear that the City had assumed regulatory control of the Cemetery through the passage of these laws. However, whether regulatory control also implies a liability for maintenance is not clear. On many occasions, the City fathers seemed very reluctant to be burdened with the responsibility of Cemetery maintenance. The question of ownership, and therefore accountability, was raised again and again in subsequent years.
It is not clear what the outcome was in 1888 but a year later, in June of 1889, a brief article (FMJ, 6-8-1889, p.l) appeared which indicated that Frank C. Beall and other concerned citizens went to the Mayor. They complained about the "sad condition" of the "graveyard on the hill," contending that it was the City's corporate responsibility to take proper care of the grounds:
The need of making proper provision for enclosing this public property is emphasized by the fact that, as neglected public property, in sight of a popular picnic ground, and a resort for strangers visiting points of interest, its pre sent condition is a disgrace to the town.
As an aside, it should be noted that later, in 1925, Frank C. Beall was buried in the Cemetery. It is not clear whether the efforts of Mr. Beall and his comrades had an immediate impact. In light of what follows, it seems that no effective action was taken by the City to remedy the condition of the Cemetery in 1889.
In the months of June, July and August of 1890, a series of articles appeared in the Frostburg Mining Journal that finally resulted in "official" action being taken with regard to the graveyard. In the June City Council meeting, there was an expressed concern about the problem of Cemetery desecration by hogs and cows wandering without control through the Cemetery (FMJ 6-14-1890, p. 3). At this point, the Mayor questioned whether the City had the right to put a fence around the Cemetery to protect it. The Cemetery is, he said, someone else's property. The issue was tabled until the next meeting. In the July report of a City Council meeting, there was, again, considerable debate about whether the City had or should have the responsibility for the Cemetery. A Mr. Zimmerly said it was not rightfully the town's responsibility to do anything, presumably because the Cemetery was private property. Mr. Michael had talked to the [City] attorney, who indicated that perhaps the town had a "...liability for the fenceless condition of the graveyard." The Mayor finally ruled that the City must assume responsibility in the situation by building a fence around the Cemetery and cutting down some of the trees (FMJ 7-19-1890, p. 3).
In the July 26 edition (p. 2) of the Frostburg Mining Journal, an editorial took the position that Percy Cemetery was private property. The editorial cited the existence of a City ordinance that stated that it was unlawful to bury any more people in the Cemetery under penalty of a fine. The exception to the rule was that families having a burial plot might request permission from the Bailiff to bury a family member. The Bailiff would examine the family lot to see if there was sufficient room for another burial. This led the editorial writer to conclude that the Cemetery was "owned" by the families with burial lots. Since this was true, the City had no responsibility for building a fence around the Cemetery. This was a curious bit of logic since the need to ask for permission from the Bailiff would seem to indicate that the City did have some regulatory power in the matter of further burials.
Finally, a report of City Council business in the August 16 Frostburg Mining Journal [p. 3] includes an item which states that the fence around Percy Cemetery was, in fact, completed. The net cost to the City was $71.17 for the work done.
In 1901, a brief note appeared in the Frostburg Mining Journal (6-22-1901, p. 3), complaining of what appears to be juvenile vandalism in the Cemetery:
Anthony E. Crosby and Michael R. Olson
28 x 22 cms
Cemeteries, Maryland, Frostburg; Obituaries, Maryland, Frostburg. .
Frostburg (Md.), 1800-1972