Behind St. Philip's Episcopal Church on the corner of Main and Sixth streets is a small cemetery with a big mystery. Headstones bear the names of some longtime, historical Laurel families: Snowden, Stanley, Talbott, Cronmiller, Dodge, Vanduesen and Haslup. At the far end, next to Prince George Street, it also contains the gravesite of a former slave, Mary Ann Simmes, who died in 1887, the only such grave at St. Philip's. Who was the woman and why is she buried there?
Two St. Philip's parishioners, Betsy Welsh and Mickey Evans, have worked to unfold the mystery of this grave.
The original headstone, which is still there, is so weathered that it is hard to read. A new stone monument, which was dedicated in November 2016, has a brass plaque that reads: "This place marks the final resting place of Mary A. Simmes. Her original headstone reads: In Memory of Mary Ann Simmes. Our Dear Old Mammy, by Those She Loved. Died August 21, 1887 in the 86th Year of Her Age"
Speaking to the Soul: Alleluia! Alleluia!
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