It happened a couple weeks before Halloween, back in the mid-90s, just as construction was beginning on building 2243, the Combined Fuel Flow Lab.
“We received a call from Public Works construction management that a back hoe operator at the site had found unusual materials while digging,” said Kyle Rambo, conservation director for NAS Patuxent River.
The unusual materials turned out to be the metal side rails from a wooden coffin.
“We consulted with the Maryland Historical Trust,” Rambo explained, “and archival research indicated that the Cedar Point Methodist Church cemetery had once been located in that area but records showed 100 bodies were exhumed in 1942 when the Navy acquired the property and were relocated to the Ebenezer Cemetery on Chancellors Run Road; so digging continued.”
The next items discovered were the foot and head stones of a grave marker, bearing the name Mary G. Story.
“That wasn’t unexpected either,” Rambo said. “It could’ve been possible that during the exhumation, some things were missed and not taken along to the new site; so digging continued.”
But the next discoverya decaying leather shoe with foot bones still insidebrought digging to a standstill.
“It turns out that was all we found of Mary Story,” Rambo said. “But small quantities of the human remains from four other graves were also found. At that point, we began some research.”
Church officials were contacted regarding the grave marker found for Mary Story but, inexplicably, they had no record of her ever being buried at Cedar Point Cemetery.
Rambo explained that the foot bone was believed to have belonged to Story because of where it was discovered, along with the coffin hardware, between her headstone and footstone.
“I believe over the years that someone dug up most of Mary and moved her somewhere; perhaps to a family plot,” Rambo said. “If there was more of her there, we surely would have found it.”
All of the remains unearthed at the site were taken to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory located at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Calvert County.
“These were human remains and had to be dealt with in a dignified manner,” Rambo said.
Further research on Story showed that she lived for several years at Susquehanna Farm, located near what is now the Fishing Point Recreational Area.
“We decided to erect her headstone at the Susquehanna site where we knew she had once lived,” Rambo said.
The headstone had been found in two pieces and a local stone mason, Raymond Canetti, offered to set it in place. Mary G. Story’s grave marker was erected once again in her memory and now stands against a peaceful wooded backdrop not far from the entrance to Fishing Point, and close to the area she once called home.
The wife of James P. Story, Mary was born on January 1, 1856 and died on January 11, 1899 at the age of 43. Her headstone reads, “She was a tender mother here; And in her life the Lord did fear; We trust our loss shall be her gain; And that with Christ she’s gone to reign.”