One thing you hope you’ll find on any road trip is something unexpected. So, imagine us driving along Maryland Hwy. 333 outside Oxford, MD on our way to Assateague, VA and finding this little collection of white buildings. Although all were closed and locked with no one onsite to talk to, we took pictures, savored the moments spent there and did a bit of research later at home.
Talbot County’s John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church (founded 1838), served Oxford Neck and its population of whites and African Americans (50% free, 50% enslaved) until 1993 when the congregation was disbanded. The site was a place of worship (Easton Circuit register documents list 31 white and 26 black members worshiping together in 1851), but it was also a place for the recruitment of Union solders for the U. S. Colored Troops. The church’s online history mentions that almost all documents and church records were lost.
In 2012, area residents formed the John Wesley Preservation Society for the purpose of reinforcing and renovating existing structures in order to preserve the history and lifestyle of Talbot County African-Americans.
You can’t help but be struck by the simplicity of the buildings, none of which had air conditioning or electricity.
A cook shop provided meals and refreshments for church goers, but it seemed quite small compared to what we see at churches today.
Out back, a cemetery offers some history of those buried there, but the Preservation Society requests help in identifying the 64 unnamed gravesites and markers found in the burial site.
Although there were traditional markers in the cemetery, we were intrigued by what appeared to be concrete graves with curved coverings. (If any of you know something about these, please leave us a comment below.)
and one that will remain with us for a long, long time.
Keep your eyes open — you never know what you’ll find on a road trip!
Rusha and Bert