Chapter 3 (Problems in doing the research)
PROBLEMS IN DOING THE RESEARCH
In this monograph, we are attempting to present as much as we can of the personal and familial history of the individuals buried in Percy Cemetery. We are by no means trying to give complete histories of either individuals or families. Because there are over 500 people buried in the cemetery, it would obviously be impossible to be complete even if we wanted to be. Instead, we will present as much information as we have been able to find. It is our hope that the very incompleteness of this work will stimulate other people to provide us with better, more complete information.
It is also our desire to motivate others to do their own research on their ancestors and families or any other topic that might be of local historical interest. If there is one thing that our work has accomplished, it is to convince us of the need for a comprehensive effort to document the history of the City of Frostburg. There are bits and pieces of Frostburg history scattered around but little of it is what a historian would call a systematic effort to conduct and report research. We hope that this effort will encourage others to undertake their own work on Frostburg’s fascinating history.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
In the process of researching the history of the Percy Cemetery and those interred in it, a wide variety of resources have been used (see list of References). We wish to emphasize, however, that while the research has taken a long time and been painstaking at times, the help we have received from descendants, relatives, fellow genealogists, librarians and others has been gracious and indispensable.
The initial source of information about many of those buried in the cemetery came from the tombstones and grave markers themselves. These, of course, varied in the amount of information they provided and in readability and, as we have come to discover, only about 50 percent of those buried in the cemetery still have existing tombstones. Some headstones have been taken from the cemetery, some have eroded away completely, some are partially unreadable, some are broken beyond repair, and others have literally sunk into the ground.
We continued our search for existing lists of burials and found two published attempts. In his 1878 History of Western Maryland J. Thomas Scharf included partial inventories of several cemeteries in the region, including the Percy graveyard. Jeanne Cordts, local historian and writer, in the 1976 Frostburg Salutes the Bicentennial, provides another listing in her article, “A New Look at Old Cemetery.” Both added to our growing list.
Starting in the late nineteenth century, local newspapers, around Memorial Day, would yearly list the names of the military veterans buried in local cemeteries. We used these lists to expand the list of Percy Cemetery burials. It is interesting that these lists, while generally consistent from year to year, are nevertheless prone to error. Former soldiers listed one year are missing from the next year’s list or those not listed one year are listed the next. Additionally, these lists often misspelled a soldier’s name. For many years, for example, William Coyner was listed as William Knoyer.
Since most people were buried with a religious service, an exploration of Frostburg church records was conducted. Indeed, these records indicated many burials that the other lists did not include. We examined the records of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (abbreviated later as SPL), Salem United Church of Christ (SUC), St. John’s Episcopal Church (SJE), Zion Church of Christ (ZCC) and Frostburg United Methodist Church (FUMC). We attempted to gain access to the records of other churches. In most cases, the historical records were either incomplete or non-existent. [The fact that the records of the Frostburg United Methodist Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church have become available on microfilm has made it easier to search for the information we needed. We urge other religious organizations in the area to likewise preserve their records for historical and genealogical purposes.]
It has been one of our pleasures to share the information gathered in our research with inter-
Anthony E. Crosby and Michael R. Olson
28 x 22 cms
Cemeteries, Maryland, Frostburg; Obituaries, Maryland, Frostburg. .
Frostburg (Md.), 1800-1972