Oxford Cemetery History
Originally Established in 1808 as a Tilghman Family burial site, upon investigation, it is noted that there were over 40 tombstones apart from the Tilghman family in the time period before 1881. In 1881, it officially became the Oxford Cemetery Corporation of Talbot County and received permission from the Maryland General Assembly to, ‘“…incorporate in order that they may provide suitable and convenient grounds for the burial of the dead.” The founding members were James Harrison Willis, Thomas Bowdle Stewart, Nicholas Bowdle Stewart, William Haddaway Seth and Oswald Tilghman. Its charter stated that the corporation should not exist for more than 40 years, the shares be $5.00 in value, and capital stock not to exceed $5,000.00. The number of shares to be sold should not exceed 1000. In 1921, when the charter expired, only 242 shares had been sold.
The remaining stockholders met in 1921 and reorganized. William H. Myers Jr. was elected president, Edward T. Parsons was Vice President, William T Stevenson was Secretary and Treasurer, and Oris Abbott was appointed the job of sexton (grave digger). Mr. Abbott accepted with the provision that a tool shed be built on the property. Since the old cemetery plat was in such poor condition, Mr. George Tull was engaged to draw a new one.
In 1946, William H. Myers Jr. donated land and eleven acres additional land was purchased on the west side of the property from Mrs. Helen Bradley thus providing ample room for further expansion. Mr. A.B. Harris was instrumental in helping to finance this purchase.
In 1971, the remains of Tench Tilghman, Colonel in the Continental Army and Aid de Camp to George Washington, were brought from Old St. Paul’s in Baltimore and interred at the Oxford Cemetery. Colonel Tilghman died on April 18th, 1786, at the age of 42.
Many sailors that drowned in the waters of the Tred Avon have been laid to rest in Oxford Cemetery. Some were identified, but many were not; they were buried in “Potters Field, which is synonymous with the title “Strangers Row.” An earliest record of this practice dates to 1889 when it was recorded that an “Unknown Dredger was buried in Strangers Row.” And again in 1890 “ James L. Clayton drowned at age 25. He was buried using money from the “Strangers Row” fund, with a shortage of 31 cents being paid by Captain E.J. Stevens. This was an area set aside in the cemetery that had never been marked until 1998, when a ceremony of dedication to those buried in Potters Field was given. A stone engraved: “ AT REST KNOWN ONLY TO GOD” now marks the area.
It is a remarkably difficult task to condense and convey the depth of history that lays in Oxford Cemetery. Its history is as much known as it is unknown to this day. Presently, the Oxford Cemetery is overseen by two Cemeterians and a volunteer board of directors, who readily give their time and talents to ensure the Oxford Cemetery remains a serene and beautiful place of rest.