Martini’s St. Paul’s Cemetery

Martini’s cemetery sits on a knoll in Druid Hill Park. Our mother church, Second German Evangelical Lutheran Church St. Paul’s, purchased the 4 acres and 32 “perches” of land in Baltimore County for a cemetery. The graveyard predates our church by fourteen years, and Druid Hill Park by six years. It was named for our mother church, St. Paul’s. Inherited by three daughter churches, Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran hurch (now in Catonsville), and Martini Lutheran Church when the mother church closed its doors in 1867. Since 1950, Martini Lutheran Church is the sole owner.

The four and a half acres lot for the Victorian graveyard was purchased by “Old St. Paul’s Church” in 1854, from Sarah and Francis Hilberg for a sum of $3000.  According to former Cemetery Secretary George Dederer, it was a part of their farm.  There was a house and a barn on the property until they fell into disrepair in the early 1900’s.  It was Old St. Paul’s second cemetery site. The dedication ceremony took place in front of the whole congregation on December 10, 1854. It was said not a dry eye could be found in the crowd due to the moving dedication service conducted by Pastor Ernst Keyl and other clergy. A family size plot sold for $50. The cemetery was laid out in the shape of a cross with a center or heart section which was used for the clergy, the teachers of the schools, and their families.  It was located just behind picnic grove #3 where the churches of the Missouri Synod held picnics.

The care of the cemetery, now two and a half acres (the City of Baltimore took 21/2 acres of land for Druid Hill Park) was not the best when owned by the three sister churches, but things got worse due to vandals knocking over as many of the old stones as possible in the 1980’s, and families failing to pay for  perpetual care of their family’s plot in the cemetery.

With the help of the “Friends of Druid Hill Park”, Martini reclaimed the cemetery by building a chain link fence around the graveyard and sharing the cost of frequent grass cuttings. Storms bringing down huge trees, time, the elements, and lack of funds of a city church often left the cemetery in sad shape.

Over the last ten or so years, the cemetery has had a rebirth, thanks to the efforts of Martini’s congregation, volunteers from as far away as North Carolina, and the people who work in Druid Hill Park. A cemetery stone man has been hired and is slowly and lovingly righting the stones. I recommend a trip out to the park to see the progress that has been made.

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