Visitors to Parsons Cemetery can learn a lot about the area's history — far beyond the names on the graves. That's thanks to the work of the Parsons Cemetery Advisory Committee, which was honored this week with a Best of Maryland Community Choice Award from Preservation Maryland.
Carol Smith, a member of the committee, spoke about how the group has shared the history found within the Salisbury cemetery by creating a Facebook page and website, putting together self-guided walking tours that visitors can access from the website and adding informational kiosks. The committee also worked with Brent Zaprowski, a professor at Salisbury University, to learn more about the many veterans buried in the cemetery.
Smith didn't realize the committee was on Preservation Maryland's radar until one day, they got a call. The person on the other end said, "We have good news for you."
The committee had not only been nominated by Preservation Maryland for the award, but had won. Preservation Maryland liked that the cemetery's history was being shared using technology, Smith said.
Smith praised those who have worked with the committee.
"It's very nice to work with such a wonderful group of people," she said.
Zaprowski walks his dogs at the cemetery daily and noticed one day that people were putting out flags, he said, learning that this was to mark the graves of veterans. However, not every veteran's grave makes his or her military service obvious.
He worked with Stuart Hamilton, also of SU's Geography and Geosciences Department, to get a good-quality drone image of the cemetery, and then Zaprowski started mapping veterans' graves, he said. He did research on people buried at Parsons using Ancestry.com, newspapers, obituaries and service records, he said.
He created a catalog that includes the following information about veterans buried in Parsons Cemetery: name, death date, military branch and war, along with the location of where each veteran's grave can be found. The catalog of more than 1,200 veterans can be found here.
Zaprowski said he appreciates the work of the committee and has now become a member. While working on this project, he's been able to learn about Salisbury's history, even beyond veterans.
As a geology professor, he's also interested in creating a self-guided walking tour that would highlight the different types of stones used for grave markers.
Katie Parks, director of development for Preservation Maryland, presented the award to the committee Wednesday, Aug. 26.
"We're really happy to celebrate them today," she said.
Want to Visit?
Address: 912 N. Division St., Salisbury, MD 21801
Hours: 9 a.m.-sunset
Top Photo Caption: Katie Parks, director of development for Preservation Maryland, presents a Best of Maryland Community Choice Award to Carol Smith, holding the award from the left, and the rest of the Parsons Cemetery Advisory Committee.