I am literally surrounded by history where I live. It’s one of the things that goes along with living in an area that was founded in 1634. One of the things I’m pledging to do is get more of St. Mary’s County history online and available. I’m not connected in any way with societies or organizations, so really it’s just me researching the things that interest me. Though, I’m hoping this commitment leads me to the library and historical society more often.
One of the most memorable pieces of history in my area is the cemetery in the middle of a shopping center. That’s right, we have a cemetery in the middle of a shopping center. 30 years ago, this county was a whole lot of farmland. Today it’s the land of strip malls.
Amongst Fashion Bug and Dollar Tree, we have this little patch of land. County lore says that when the shopping center was being put in, the developer didn’t want to take the time or money to figure out what to do. Instead of moving the graves or finding next of kin, they just built around it. This little cemetery is definitely a talking point to anyone who passes through the shopping center. In fact, the tax lady came for a visit to my house and we talked genealogy and this little cemetery.
The graves are that of the Hammett family. Hammett is what I like to call a “county” name. There are about 10-20 families that I consider to be “county”. These families have been here forever and you’ll find the surname everywhere. Another county legend is that these Hammetts are related to Dashiell Hammett, who was born in St. Mary’s County.
The dates on these gravestones tells me that I was completely justified in considering this a county name. Fortunately, I have more tools at my disposable then just the county message boards. I decided to check on the family a little bit.
Just by looking at the 1850 census, I find out Joseph is definitely the son of James. James was a farmer who was born in Harford County, Maryland. By the way Harford is right next to Baltimore County, Maryland. Dashiell Hammett spent his time growing up between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Don’t you love when things start to connect a little bit. A Few more censuses shows the family staying in the Great Mills area of St. Mary’s County. I’m assuming back in the day Great Mills was considered the whole area and not the little metropolis of 8 cities it is now. The shopping center right now is considered to be California… I think. It could be Lexington Park, but I’m pretty sure it’s not still Great Mills. I’m going to learn a bit more about that.
In the meantime, I’ll show you the shopping center. On the left side of the photo where the center steps back and you see green, that’s where it is. Sorry there’s no arrow pointing, I forgot that part. To be honest it makes a nice unique shopping center if you ask me.
Whatever the reasons, I think this little bit of history fits so well into our current times. It makes you stop a minute and remember those who came before you. We’ve got an awful lot of history around here. Even though my family doesn’t have history here, I’m intrigued by the deep roots people must have in this area. In fact I’m going to research more about this little Hammett family in the future.