New construction will shadow historic Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery
January 18, 2022
A man who lives in the house alongside the historic cemetery behind the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church regularly clears the flat and worn gravestones of leaves and other debris.
He gave your correspondent and buddy an impromptu tour. Pointing out different graves, “He was at Gettysburg. The fella over here was at the battle of Little Round Top. You can see it by the 20th Volunteers Main. The 20th Main was the line Chamberlain and his men did that right handed [ ] like a swinging door move to stop the Confederates from getting the hill; it won the day....This gentleman here is a veteran of the War of 1812.” He pointed out headstones for the Sands family which he believes was prominent in the early days of the church.
Some of the graves are partially grown over with grass and there may be others that are totally covered over. See photo album here.
The man says the cemetery is a kind of common ground for the neighborhood. People come through, some walk their dogs, children play. Referring to imminent construction of an apartment complex on the former Sunoco site, adjacent, “They’re going to block it out when they put this building up… I think it’s five stories. It’s a pity, huh? " See article about the new construction here.
More information about the history of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church can be found on the church’s website here The Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s archives are rich with historical information. According to notes attached to a 1945 photo of J.S Jenks school students, children attending Christian Youth Brigade meetings at the church would play in the graveyard. The Conservancy also houses an 86-page, 1898 book by Robert Milville Hunsicker, “Chestnut Hill Baptist Church 1834-1897 Glimpses of Sixty-three Years” and a 2001 publication “ Tombstone inscriptions at two Chestnut Hill church cemeteries: Chestnut Hill Baptist and Chestnut Hill Methodist” by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania listing the churches gravestone inscriptions. Watch video interview about historic Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery here. A list of those interred follows
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