The Ruins of St. John’s

The ruins of St. Johns along the Miles River. Photo taken from Unionville Road.

Drivers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland who take the Unionville Road bridge over the Miles River are treated to a view of Gothic church ruins. These are what is left of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, which was finished in 1839. The money for the church was donated by Miles River Neck landowners who wanted a parish closer than the one in nearby St. Michaels, Md. It was one of the first Gothic Revival churches on the Eastern Shore.

The walls are made of granite. The church was deemed structurally unsound in 1900 and it continues to crumble. A photo of the ruins in “Where Land and Water Intertwine” (1984) shows a turret at the front of the church, but it has since fallen away.

Overhead view of St. Johns, courtesy of Google Maps

These ruins are not to be confused with Dundee Chapel, a circa 1720 church built further inland in Tunis Mills near what is now the intersection of Unionville Road and Todd’s Corner.

Information for this post came from “Where Land and Water Intertwine, An Archictectural History of Talbot County, Maryland” by Christopher Weeks (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), pages 105-106.

Hurricane Irene: The Finale (Day 5)

Read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4

Sunday, August 28

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. because my bedroom door was rattling. Now I could hear a really strong wind, which had shifted so it was coming from the south (correction, west; I’m notoriously directionally challenged) and hitting the window behind my bed. I could tell it wasn’t raining as much. I’d apparently slept straight through the worst part of Irene.

I got up to see what was going on in the rest of the house. A very damp smell hit me when I opened the bedroom door and walked into the dining room (where the basement door is). There was still water in the basement, but the leaks appeared to be slowing. The attic leaks looked to have stopped completely. The wind was rattling the exterior cover of my bathroom vent quite loudly. Thankfully the power was still on.

This led to a comedy of errors though because I had turned on the overhead light in my living room so that I could see. It’s operated from a remote control and though I was able to turn it on, the remote then stopped working. I tried using a remote for a similar fixture in the dining room. That turned on the dining room light, but then it also stopped working. Now I had two blazingly bright lights on in my house at 4:30 a.m. and I just wanted to go back to sleep. I plucked a third remote from the wall in the guest room and removed its battery, swapping it out for those in the other two remotes in turn, which then allowed me to turn off those lights.

Then I flopped back into bed.

Just little branches fell on our street.

I awoke again at 7:15. Very strong winds were once again causing my bedroom door to rattle. The screens in the windows were rattling too. I chanced a peek outside and saw lots of small branches were down in the street.

I got up and once again surveyed the various parts of the house. I took the big floor fan I’d purchased out of its box and set it up to start drying out the basement. I also set up the canisters of DampRid. Then I took the tower fan out of my bedroom and set it up downstairs as well, for good measure.

Once it stopped raining and I saw folks venturing outdoors, I went out and picked up the largest limbs from my front yard. I took a quick walk around our block — the old oaks had dropped tons of small branches.

Tree broken in half on Dover Street.

I came back to my house and grabbed my phone and set off for a longer walk. It was still quite gusty. I took several pics of large limbs down along the way. A large tree in front of the Inn at 202 Dover had broken in half.

A large limb down on South Harrison

Large limb down on Goldsborough.

When I got back to the house, I decided to use Febreeze in the living room and dining room to try and combat the damp smell. I emptied the cooler that had been storing ice, which was now mostly melted.

Downstairs, I opened a small window to let still more air into the basement. It caused the basement door to rattle whenever a strong gust blew through.

I began emptying the large plastic drawers filled with water that were in the tub. Then I folded the tarp in the living room and started moving my scrapbooks and documents back into the office, which fortunately did not leak.

Blue sky!

At 1:30 p.m., I spotted the first hint of blue sky since Friday. Shortly thereafter, the sun was out. I pulled my car out of the garage and then I went out back to get my composter out of the shed and wrestled it back into its frame. I re-hung the flag out front.

After a trip to the gym, I was pleased to discover that the house no longer smelled like a swamp when I walked through the door. I’m contemplating returning the un-opened sub-pump and hose. Surely if the basement didn’t flood after nearly 9 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, I’m not going to need it, right?

Later in the afternoon, all the neighbors were in their yards raking up the branches and leaves that had fallen. I opened all my doors and windows to let as much fresh air as I could into the house. I made another sweep of the sidewalk to get still more sticks out of the way. Everyone was saying how lucky we were that it wasn’t worse, even though we’d all prepared for it.

I took another walk into town and noticed quite a bit of the damage that I’d seen before was already cleared away. Talbot County Schools are closed tomorrow, but everything should be back to normal after that (at least in our part of town). Good riddance, Irene!

Tombstone Tuesday: Little Lambs

St. John’s Chapel is on Tilghman Island. A friend and I noticed quite a lot of children’s graves there on a recent visit.

This memorial to the children of one family is especially poignant:

In loving memory of the children of Perry and Ada K. Porter.

Ella J., aged 19 years.

Hattie B., aged 13 years.

Hazel K., aged 1. Infant son, born and died March 2, 1893. Katherine, aged 2.

Unfortunately, there’s no trace of these children on the U.S. census as they were born after 1880 and the 1890 census is unavailable. I didn’t find the family in 1900 or 1910. I think I found a widowed Perry living in Virginia in 1920. I couldn’t find evidence of any surviving children.

This church is noteworthy in one other respect. It was the location of a Kennedy wedding recently (article link may require subscription after the summer of 2011).

Tombstone Tuesday: Old Wye Cemetery

Historical Marker for Old Wye Episcopal Church

Old Wye Episcopal Church has sat along Route 662 between Queenstown and Easton in one iteration or another since 1721.

The historical marker by the church reads:

“Old Wye Episcopal Church

Only remaining Anglican church in Talbot County. Built in 1721 as a chapel-of-ease by donations of 60,000 pounds of tobacco and 100 pounds of sterling. Originally named St. Luke’s it was a place of worship until 1829. Reconstructed in 1854, but later fell into disrepair until restored in 1949 to original design with high box pews, hanging side pulpit and gallery with original royal arms.”

You can read more about the history of the church on the parish web site.

It’s a quiet location in a residential neighborhood. The church and the grounds are quite beautiful.

On a recent trip there, I snapped many photos around the cemetery. There’s a neat old tree towards the back where dozens of people have carved their initials and other messages over the years. On the right in the photo below, you can see the bridge I mentioned in last week’s Wordless Wednesday post.

Unfortunately, only one of my tombstone photos can be read clearly. I’ll have to go back and take more photos — there are only five graves listed for the cemetery on FindaGrave.

The above stone is for Joseph George Neal (born and died in what looks like 1851 or 1857) and Matthias George Neal (born in 1859 and died in 1861). They are listed as the children of Louis W. H. and M.E. Neal.

I looked Louis up on Ancestry. He apparently was married to a Henrietta M. E. George (so the tombstone was carved with the ‘&’ separating the wrong initials above). Joseph and Matthias were their only children. They all apparently are buried at Old Wye Church. Louis may have remarried, but I didn’t find evidence that he had any more children.

Tombstone Tuesday: St. James Cemetery

A couple of weeks ago, I drove a friend visiting from out of town to Tilghman Island. As we were passing through Sherwood, my friend spotted a cemetery. On our way back home, I pulled off the road so we could check it out — it was St. James Cemetery*. I was shocked at what we found.

The cemetery was completely overgrown, which isn’t too terribly shocking. The reason why it troubled me is that many of the graves we did find were really recent. We saw several graves from the 1990s to as recent as 2008. It was really sad to see them in such a state.

Grave from 1999

Grave from 1992

At first, I thought this cemetery was one that I’d been unable to find before, while fulfilling FindaGrave requests in the area last fall. Turns out this is a completely different cemetery. None of its graves are listed on FindaGrave yet. I hope to return when the weather is colder and the greenery has died back a bit. We briefly skirted around the perimeter of the cemetery on this excursion and got bitten by who knows what in the process.

We couldn't get back to these graves without walking through knee-high weeds to get there and we weren't dressed for the occasion this outing.

* I found the St. James Church on the Maryland Register of Historic Places (link opens PDF). I don’t recall seeing the church, but we weren’t looking for it either. There appeared to be a private residence bordering the cemetery, not a church. There were several tumbling-down shacks in the vicinity. I didn’t find anything else about the congregation on the web — maybe it’s no longer active. This could explain the sad state of the cemetery…