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Oakland, Garrett County, Md. A.M.E. Church

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The Oakland, Maryland A.M.E. Church

Garrett County, Maryland was officially established in 1872, with the town of Oakland elected to serve as its seat of government. It is documented that an African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church existed within Oakland from the late Nineteenth Century through the early Twentieth Century. A hand-drawn map in the possession of the Garrett County Historical Society, and dated 1886, identifies a "primitively made (a basic but sound structure constructed with basic and available materials and tools) colored church" on the corner of Fifth and High Streets. A professionally made lithograph of the town from 1906, a small close-up portion of which is shown above, depicts the structure standing alone on the corner lot. This site is now occupied by a private residence. The church building itself was relocated in the 1930s to a family farm south of Oakland along Mason School Road, where it is now used as a workshop for the repair of buggies and wagons. An interpretive marker on-site placed by the Garrett County Historical Society identifies the building, which is also shown above, as follows:

The Only
In Garrett County.
Removed To This Site
From Oakland About 1934
And Used As
A Carriage Shop.
Garrett County Historical Society

The following two articles are from Garrett County's "Republican" newspaper and pertain to the Oakland area's African-American community during this period:

From "The Republican" newspaper, July 28, 1910:
"The colored people of Oakland and Mt. Lake Park will give a minstrel show in the Oakland opera house on next Thursday evening, July 28th, for the benefit of the Oakland A.M.E. church. The program will consist of music, character sketches and dialogues and the entertainment will be very enjoyable to everyone. During the entertainment refreshments will be served. Admission adults, 25 cents; children, 10 cents."

From "The Republican" newspaper, November 29, 1884:
"A colored school was opened in Oakland last week, with Mr. Patrick Stanton as teacher."

The following information is from "Oakland, Centennial History, 1849-1949", by Thekla Fundenberg Weeks:

The 1800 census for those districts now forming what is Garrett County was a little over 1000 people. In what is now the Oakland and nearby areas, there were 898 whites and 87 "colored" for a total of 985 people. Many of these African-Americans were slaves who were brought to the region by slave-owning settlers. Weeks notes that these African-Americans contributed greatly to the county's development, but once freed the majority relocated to the more urban areas. The Davis and Dorsey families were among those who remained behind to live in Oakland. The centennial publication states that there were "no colored people" living in Garrett County at the time of its 1949 publication.

According to research undertaken by Gene C. Miller, the 1900 census identifies an African-American minister by the name of William H. Walker living in Oakland, along with his wife Virginia and mother-in-law. The name of the Oakland church is noted as being Bethel A.M.E., and an article appearing in the August 21, 1924 Baltimore Afro-American identifies the pastor as being the Reverend M.B. Simpson. Simpson also served the A.M.E. churches in Frostburg and Westernport, with all three being affiliated with the Baltimore District Conference of A.M.E. churches. The article noted that Bethel was going to hold a Women's Day and Grand Pew Rally with offerings scheduled to be held on Sunday, August 31st. Mrs. M.B. Simpson would be serving as Mistress of Ceremonies, with Mrs. Estella Campbell as one of the participants. A visit by A.M.E. church officials to Bethel noted that they were surprised to find things in such "splendid condition owing to the length of time the pastor has been there."

An article appearing in the February 10, 1935 edition of the Cumberland Sunday Times and provided to me by Lynn Bowman, indicates that by 1935 the church had been abandoned and the lumber was used by a Simon Swartzentruber of Gortner to build a repair shop at his farm. The complete article appears elsewhere on this website.


Historical information and newspaper articles provided by Robert Shaffer.

"Oakland Town View", a lithograph published in 1906 by Thadius M. Fowler, Morrisville, Pennsylvania, courtesy of the Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3844o.pm002620

Photograph: Albert L. Feldstein, August 3, 2013. (It is believed the dormer was added after the church was relocated).

"Oakland, Garrett County, Maryland, Centennial History, 1849-1949", by Thekla Fundenberg Weeks, published by the Oakland Centennial Commission, Inc., Sincell Printing Company, Oakland, Maryland, 1949.

Additional information provided by Gene C. Miller along with his blog at http://cheesygritsandshooflypie.blogspot.com/

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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