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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Erasure and Rediscovery

— Catoctin Furnace African American Interpretive Trail —

 
 
Erasure and Rediscovery Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, October 18, 2021
1. Erasure and Rediscovery Marker
Inscription.  
“The tragedy of slavery is writ large at Catoctin Furnace. We search for a descendant community to reconnect and rectify this lost legacy.”
—Elizabeth A. Comer archaeologist and secretary of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society

The Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery is on a hill 360 feet to the south of this point. Marked by field stones, its graves hold the remains of men, women, and children of African ancestry. Many were enslaved workers, some of whom may have been brought directly from Africa for their valuable iron-working skills. It is possible that others were members of the furnace area's freed Black population. The cemetery site is privately owned, and the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and interpreting it.

In 1979, archaeological investigations conducted during construction of the new highway uncovered the graves of 35 individuals, thought to represent a third of the cemetery. A ground penetrating radar survey in 2014 identified 23 additional burials. The Museum of the Ironworker houses forensic facial reconstructions of two
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individuals: a woman aged 30-35 years and a young man aged 15-16 years.

DNA tests and other forensic studies are revealing not only these early Marylanders' faces, but also signs of the harsh existence they endured, their ancestral origins, and the family units that helped sustain them.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAnthropology & ArchaeologyCemeteries & Burial SitesIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1979.
 
Location. 39° 34.72′ N, 77° 26.086′ W. Marker is near Thurmont, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from Catoctin Furnace Road (Maryland Route 806) just south of Catoctin Hollow Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12610 Catoctin Furnace Rd, Thurmont MD 21788, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Return of Names (here, next to this marker); An Unquiet Place (here, next to this marker); Dynamic Nature of History (a few steps from this marker); Who Built this Village? (within shouting distance of this marker); Secondary Industries and the Mill Pond (within shouting distance of this marker); Resources: Use—Reuse—Recycle (about 500 feet away, measured
Erasure and Rediscovery Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, October 18, 2021
2. Erasure and Rediscovery Marker
in a direct line); Harriet Chapel (about 600 feet away); A Diverse and Skilled Workforce (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Thurmont.
 
Archaeology image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, October 18, 2021
3. Archaeology
« Archaeologists, under contract to Maryland State Highway Administration, identified and carefully excavated the graves threatened by planned roadway construction. Buttons and pins were recovered, along with seeds, which are possible evidence of funeral wreaths. Photograph. Dr. Kenneth Orr.
Close-up of photo on marker
Family Groups image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, October 18, 2021
4. Family Groups
« In 1979, archaeologists did not have the benefit of DNA studies. Since 2018, a joint Catoctin Furnace Historical Society (CFHS), Smithsonian Institution, and Harvard University project has revealed familial groupings and relatedness within the cemetery. To date, five family groups have been identified. Map Courtesy of Robert Wanner, EACM Archaeology, Inc.
Close-up of map on marker.
Female in Her Early 20's<br>Check 6, Feature 3 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Thomas and Burston, 1981
5. Female in Her Early 20's
Check 6, Feature 3
The burial was that of a young adult female in her early 20's. Graphics were done by Ms. Leslie A. Foster and Janet Worne. From Archaeology Data Recovery at Catoctin Furnace Cemetery by Ronald A. Thomas and Sharon Ann Burnston. 1981.
In Memory of Those Who Worked and Now Rest Here image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, October 21, 2021
6. In Memory of Those Who Worked and Now Rest Here
Inscription on bench built by Living Classrooms' Fresh Start students.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 29, 2021, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 29, 2021, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 15, 2024