Possible Cemetery on Romney Lot #10

Romney Benevolent Association - Fowler Family



For Location of North half of Lot 10 see Google Map at bottom of page.


In the last two editions of the Hampshire Review (Jan. 20 & 27) this notice appeared:

This is a request by Malick Properties, LLC, to get the court to give them a plot of ground since the original organization which owned it is no longer in existence. A response was filed with the court and a hearing is scheduled for March 11th. We are still gathering information.

HistoricHampshire.org would like to enlist your assistance in answering this matter. Our initial thoughts are that this most probably is a cemetery, an African-American family cemetery having the remains of members of the William Fowler family. There are several reasons for this conclusion.

1. There now appear to be two Benevolent Associations in Hampshire County. The owner of the lot in question is the almost unknown Romney Benevolent Association. The one best known Benevolent Association is the Colored Benevolent Association which was founded in 1867. See: http://www.historichampshire.org/cems/pisgah.htm for a short history as we know it. It was formed among other purposes to establish what we now call the "Mount Pisgah Benevolent Cemetery" for the African-American community.
The deed by which Wm. Fowler gave the small plot the the Romney Benevolent Association states the Association was incorporated in April 1880 - four years before the plot was deeded (Deed Book 63, p. 374). The incorporation record needs to be found.
Note the difference in the names of the associations although both are in Romney.

2. There is a sale ad in the Review of June 7, 1899, p. 2 where Lot 10 is sold:

This notice is particularly important since the seller is David Washington who is African-American. There is also a William Fowler, also African-American, who conveyed the small parcel in question to the Benevolent Association. The fact that the parcel in question is 20x30 feet is what one would consider the size of a small family cemetery.


Additional Information:
 - Robert, John & David Fowler, Benevolent Assoc., Tax records

From County death records: Robert Fowler, Male died Apr 5, 1878 age: 14y 11m 19d; Father: Fowler, William; Mother: Fowler,Sarah; B: Hampshire Book 1, page 23. His brother, John, died in 1886 at age 18 (DO). Another brother, David, died in 1892.
Note that Wm. Fowler was deeded the north part of Lot #10 On April 20, 1870, Deed Book 55 at Page 41; Fowler deeded the small plot to the Benevolent Association on November 28, 1884, Deed Book 63 at Page 374. Wm. Fowler deeded his surrounding lot to William Washington on July 11, 1891, Deed Book 68 at Page 453. Question: Are Robert, John and David Fowler buried in the small plot?

Fowler's deed to the Romney Benevolent Association (Deed Book 63, p.374) states the association was incorporated in April, 1880. The incorporation charter has not been found in the respective court book. Also, the unrelated incorporation of the Colored Benevolent Association in 1867 can not be found.

The tax records show that in 1875, five years after Fowler bought the north half of Lot #10 there was no building on the property (1875 land tax Romney town lots.pdf). Later tax records need to be searched.

Romney Tax Record 1885 for William Fowler on Lot #10


Romney's Lost Cemeteries

As you may know the three oldest cemeteries in Romney are no more. The Old Presbyterian Cemetery is now the parking lot of the fire hall (http://www.historichampshire.org/cems/OldPresbyRom.htm). What may have been the oldest cemetery is now under the Bank of Romney addition and parking lot (http://www.historichampshire.org/cems/RomneyGoneCem.htm). The Armstrong Cemetery was sold as part of the development of a tract added to Romney on its north boundary (http://www.historichampshire.org/cems/ArmstrongColored.htm). It is our hope that if this is a cemetery, it may be preserved and respected as part of our community's heritage.


Keywords: Lot 10; David Washington; William Fowler; Robert Fowler; Romney Benevolent Association; Benevolent Society; Hollen Cemetery; Deed Book 69, page 20; Deed Book 63, page 374; wife of Daniel Matthews; deed from Fowler to Washington dated July 11, 189? (possibly "1" or "4") Book 96 or 86(?)


Timeline

Chain of Title

a. April 28, 1870, Tobias and Rebecca Baker conveyed that certain lot of land in the Town of Romney known as Lot Number 10 to William Fowler, which deed is of record in the aforesaid Clerk’s Office in Deed Book 55 at Page 41.
b. November 28, 1884, William Fowler conveyed a small portion of Lot No. 10, approximately twenty-five (25’) feet by thirty (30’) feet, to Romney Benevolent Association for $30, of record in the aforesaid Clerk’s Office in Deed Book 63 at Page 374.
c. By deed dated July 11, 1891, William Fowler conveyed one half of Lot No. 10, less the small lot conveyed by William Fowler to the Romney Benevolent Association, to David Washington, of record in the aforesaid Clerk’s Office in Deed Book 68 at Page 453.

Following title transfers are for the land surrounding the small parcel in question:
d. Deed Book 76 at Page 300
e. Deed Book 76 at Page 379
f. Deed Book 84 at Page 443
g. Deed Book 84 at Page 498
h. Deed Book 91 at page 414
i. Deed Book 101 at Page 377
j. Title passes to Schnibbe heirs
k. Katherine Schnibbe Johnson died testate and passes title by her Last Will
l. Deed Book 313 at Page 326
m. Deed Book 313 at Page 559 dated October 4, 1989, Nellie Schnibbe Everett and James L. Schnibbe, conveyed lot to Afton R. Malick and Georgia P. Malick on October 4, 1989.
Note according to the Complaint to gain clear title:
    The October 4, 1989, conveyance to Afton R. Malick and Georgia P. Malick, states “the grantors herein have been informed that the Romney Benevolent Association, a Faternal Order, went out of existence and abandoned the property, and grantors herein, their father, James S. Schnibbe and the predecessors in title have been in open, exclusive adverse possession of said parcel for more than seventy-five (75) years and there has been no claim made to it and the grantors do now grant and convey all of said Lot No. Ten.”
n. Title passes to Afton R. Malick pursuant to the survivorship clause contained in the foregoing deed.
o. Will Book 66 at Page 154
p. Deed Book 552 at Page 802 title passes to Malick Properties, LLC, plaintiff now seeking clear title.


 

Perhaps related items

3. A newspaper search came up with the obituary below which mentions the Benevolent Society which may or may not be the same organization.

Note: this mentions the "Hollen Cemetery" which is unknown. That name needs to be researched.

4. A search of newspapers also found the following Hampshire County Annual Financial Statement for 1912:

This may be another Benevolent Society as opposed to the Colored Benevolent Association particularly since the County is paying some cost. The more likely answer is that the County could have bought lots in Mt. Pisgah Benevolent Cemetery to use for indigent burials, therefore they would owe maintenance fees on their lots. A similar entry was found in the County Financial Statement for May 24, 1899 (Hampshire Review edition date). A hint of the County owning a lot in Mt. Pisgah Cemetery is that the Hampshire Review Wed., Sept. 16, 1914, p. 3 which shows the County annual financial statement lists "Wm. Smith digging grave colored man - $4." At that time it is improbable that the County would have buried a colored man in a white cemetery.

Photos Album

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Lot #10 from southwest corner

Lot #10 from corner of N. Charlevoix Pl. and W. Sioux Ln.

Lot #10 from W. Sioux Ln. looking southwest

South end of Lot #10

Area of suspected Romney Benevolent Association cemetery plot on Lot #10

Map Locator


 

All have passed away, and nothing is left but the memory, and that, being the most immaterial and ephemeral of things, will soon pass into nothingness, and the shadow of oblivion will settle down forever.