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New columbarium added to Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery

Angela Smith

(5/31) The Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery Inc. recently erected a 32 niche columbarium, an addition which will allow for more community members who wish to be cremated to rest eternally in Emmitsburg. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new columbarium was held on Saturday, May 20, with members of the Board of Directors present.

Burying the dead in cemeteries or single graves is what is traditionally preferred by many cultures today, but this requires a lot of land. Cremating the dead and storing the ashes in a columbarium is a practical and respectful solution to the need for space, and is becoming a more popular option today.

"Society is moving towards cremation, and this is the way the future is going for some people," stated Linda Stultz, a member of the Board who attended high school in Emmitsburg and plans to be buried here someday.

Eric Glass, president of the Board of Directors, stated that the new addition was talked about for 10-15 years before it was ready to be built. Once the plans were put in place for the new columbarium, the process to place it on the grounds only took a few years. The columbarium will allow for a new service to the community, as the cemetery belongs to the people of Emmitsburg.

The columbarium is custom built, with memo finish, gray granite, and with jet-black polished nickel panels. Community members believe that this is an important addition for the town of Emmitsburg and anyone who would like to call the cemetery a place of rest.

"We started on this project two years ago and there are plans to put in two more if this goes the way we have planned," stated Bill Wivell, a member of the Board of Directors. "We’ve done a quite a bit here in the last year, including widening the road, putting in new signs and lights at the entrance way."

The columbarium was built in a peaceful corner of the cemetery with a surrounding pathway for loved ones to visit and pay their respects to those who have passed on. There is new landscaping and greenery which also allow for peaceful reflection, as well as a gorgeous view of our local mountains.

Another member of the Board, Sue Sanders, who was born and raised in Emmitsburg commented on the beauty and location of the cemetery, "The cemetery is important to me. It is a part of the town and when I’m buried, I will be able to see Emmitsburg from where I rest."

Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery Inc., founded about 1845, was formerly known as Mountain View Cemetery, as it directly faces the mountains that surround the town.

According to James Helman, author of Helman’s History of Emmitsburg, published in 1906, Mountain View Cemetery was started by Rev. Abner R. Kramer, who bought the field and sold burial lots while he was Pastor of what was then know as the Emmitsburg Reformed Church, now know as Incarnation, United Church of Christ.

Pastor Kramer sold his interest in the cemetery to a few men who later sold their interest to Sterling Galt, the Editor of the Emmitsburg Chronicle "who has improved it wonderfully," noted Helman. Interesting enough, the current President of the Board, Eric Glass, was also a publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

According the Helman, the following prominent individuals are buried in this cemetery: Jocob Sheets, 1801, 1895; John L. Motter, 1831, 1900; Abiah Martin, 1809, 1883; Peter Hoke, 1839, 1902; Mrs. Barbara Smith, 1803, 1884; Simon Whitmore, 1807, 1889; Samuel Motter, 1821, 1889; David Rhodes, 1800, 1878; John Troxell, 1814, 1881; Nicholas Moritz, 1785, 1883; Mathias Zacharias, 1758, 1825; David Whitmore, 1802, 1889; Christian Zacharias, 1802, 1875; George Martin; Adam Wingard, 1821, 1883; James W. Troxell, 1832, 1904; William G. Blair, 1844, 1900; Rev. E. E. Higbee, 1830, 1889; Charles Smith, 1792, 1847; Rev. Whitmore, 1819, 1884. For Emmitsburg history buffs, these names represent a who’s-who of the key individual who shaped the town’s history. Of course, since 1906, many, many more prominent members of the community now rest peacefully in the Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery.

Around the end of 1973, the cemetery was deeded to the current Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery cooperation from a private party and thus has become a community cemetery, which is both non-profit and nondenominational.

"The cemetery is open and welcoming to all members of the community," stated Debby Wivell, a member of the Board, "You don’t have to belong to a specific church to be buried here."

The Board of Directors were originally established with representation from each of the local churches. The cemetery is currently overseen by a committee of 10 members (all volunteers), including Eric Glass, Bob Gillelan, Rebecca Hays Jones, Bill Wivell, Sue Sanders, Bern Wivell, Linda Stultz, Debby Wivell, Jim Kittinger and Mary Catherine Shields. Some of these members have ancestors from Emmitsburg which date back to before the Civil War, and all hold the town close to their hearts.

Vice President of the Board, Bob Gillelan is one of these members, who also has five loved ones buried at the Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery. "The cemetery and new columbarium give the community a lovely place to be buried and laid to rest," he stated.

"My father, Sam Hays, was instrumental in restoring the cemetery and making it beautiful. When Eric asked me to join the Board of Directors, I thought it would be an honor to carry on my father’s vision," stated Rebecca Hays Jones.

All are encouraged to take a drive through this beautiful resting place, the Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery, which is located off Waynesboro Pike, just to the west of the town proper.

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