All Saints’ Parish, Frederick

Founded in 1742, All Saints’ is the oldest Episcopal parish in Western Maryland. Parish history and 19th century archival records indicate enslaved and free blacks, in most cases servants of white parishioners, received the sacraments of the church and worshipped at All Saints’.

All Saints Frederick photoAs early as 1821, Sunday School was segregated and by the early 1890s no longer offered for black children. There was a list of 42 colored members in the congregation in 1838. By 1853 that number had dwindled to 12 out of a total of 141 total congregants. The diminishing numbers were due to relocation, death, and freedom to choose another denomination. Some notes indicate, “turned Roman Catholic,” or “gone to Methodist.” In 1892, 92-year-old Hester Posey, who came to Frederick in 1845, recalled that “at the east end of the room was a gallery for the colored folk…” to participate in worship.

During the Civil War, All Saints’ was a place of divided loyalties. In May 1862, the Rev. Charles Seymour resigned as rector after some members of the congregation boycotted the church because of his Union views. In November 1863, the Rev. Marmaduke Dillon was engaged as rector. English, and probably considered neutral in sympathy, he was accepted by southern leaning members of the congregation.

Almost exactly a year after Dillon’s arrival, emancipation became law in Maryland with the ratification of the new State constitution.

From the earliest years of the parish, slaves of parish members and free black communicants were buried with graveside services conducted by the rector, but these burials were not entered into the parish registers until the 1830s. However, vestry notes in 1817 declared, “…no coloured people should be buried in the enclosed lot adjoining the churchyard, but those who contributed to the structure and those belonging to members of the Episcopal Church.” For most of the 19th century, this lot next to the white All Saints’ graveyard on All Saints’ Street was the final resting place for the parish’s colored members.

Learn more: http://www.allsaintsmd.org

All Saint’s Parish
106 West Church St.
Frederick, Maryland 21701