African American Cemetery in MD Among Most Endangered Sites in America

Each year the National Trust for Historic Preservation releases its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The list aims to shed light on historic sites that are at risk for destruction or irreparable damage. Among this year’s sites is Morningstar Tabernacle No.88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall in Cabin John, Maryland.

The Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall was a part of the historic Black community Gibson Grove. According to the Friends of Moses Hall, the community was created in 1880 after the formerly enslaved couple Robert and Sarah Gibson purchased property in the area that is now Cabin John. In 1885, the community established the benevolent society Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 of the Order of Moses in order to care for those in need and bury the dead. Its Moses Hall and cemetery were built adjacent to one another.

In the 1960s, highway construction went through Gibson Grove and destroyed part of the cemetery. Today, only the foundation of Moses Hall remains, and another highway construction project threatens the surviving parts of the cemetery.

The Friends of Moses Hall, some of whom are descendants of those buried in the cemetery, have organized to fight the highway expansion. According to Alexandra Jones, an archeologist who is now a trustee of the cemetery, the Maryland State Highway Association has promised to mitigate the impact of the project. However, some community members feel there is no way to mitigate the harm of moving the graves. “This has been an ongoing injustice, and they are dividing my family with these acts. They have already caused damage, and now they are causing more damage,” community member Austin White told Jones.

You can help protect the Morningstar Tabernacle No.88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall by sending a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration urging them to protect this historic site.