Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Apple's Church Cemetery


Sometimes, a walk through the old church cemetery does wonders for filling in blanks in the family tree. Now that I've discovered what might have been the church and hometown connection for my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather, Mathias Ambrose, that is exactly what I wish I could do now. Unfortunately, since I am in California and the church in question is in Maryland, that is not a visit I'll be doing any time soon. Still, that doesn't stop me from taking a virtual walk through the cemetery.

Since we learned yesterday that Mathias Ambrose had at least two daughters baptized at a place called Apple's Church, I pulled up the church's cemetery entry on Find A Grave. Though the entry was listed for Apples United Church of Christ, I already knew from learning about the church's history that the location had served as a meeting house for more than one denomination—hence the previous designation as Apples Lutheran and Reformed Church.

In the mid 1700s, apparently there weren't enough settlers to establish one specific church, and since there were likely not many ministers of either denomination in the sparsely-settled region of western Maryland then, the school trustees set up an arrangement whereby two different denominations would alternate use of the school building which had recently been established, thanks to a deed from local property owner Peter Apple. Since that time over two hundred years ago, other denominations have claimed use of that location, and even the cemetery is sometimes known by the alternate name of Apples Reformed Church Cemetery.

Regardless of the name, the question burning in my mind was: were there any Ambrose relatives buried in that cemetery? I put Find A Grave to the test with that search query, and was rewarded with six names:

Curiosity got the best of me, and I had to cross-check those names with the Ambrose website to see whether any were close relatives of our Mathias Ambrose. Of course, the one by that same name who died in 1784 couldn't have been our Mathias, as we already discussed his will in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, dated 1804. Elizabeth, too, had the same name as our Mathias' daughter—and my mother-in-law's direct line ancestor, her second great-grandmother who died in Ohio—so perhaps this one, who died so young, might have been whom our Elizabeth was named after.

Bit by bit, this exploration—thanks to a virtual walk through a cemetery in Maryland—painted a picture of the family constellation for our Mathias Ambrose's relatives. Most importantly, though, it gave me confidence that this was the location where our Mathias had settled before moving to Pennsylvania in his later years.

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