summerseat

Mechanicsville, MD – Summerseat Farm in Mechanicsville is steeped in history. On Sunday, May 28, the historic 18th century site will feature a special Memorial Day event honoring veterans and their families past and present.

Gary Lewis, a site interpreter at Summerseat, said the idea originally took shape back in December of last year and the event evolved through time.

“Our theme was the acknowledgement of the contributions of our military and the solemn nature of Memorial Day,” Lewis said. “At the same time we wanted to do something that speaks of the heritage and history of the county. We also talked about doing an outdoor concert, that sort of thing.”

The result was A Memorial Day Celebration & Concert, Sunday May 28 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Through the efforts of Summerseat Board Member Jean Campbell, the site netted Band of America’s Few, a unique band, whose members are retired and honorably discharged Marine Corps musicians. They will be performing two concerts throughout the daylong event.

With all the history associated with the site, Lewis said Summerseat Farm board members felt a real desire to expand programs to promote not only their own extensive heritage, but that of St. Mary’s County as well.

“We met on a monthly basis and it evolved,” Lewis said. “We were able to get the support of the Boy Scouts, who contacted us and said, ‘We’ll help get the place spruced up as well as doing demonstrations of cooking in the 18th century.”

Eagle Scout Elliot Vangorden is heading up that effort.

A local Sons of Confederate Veterans group will also do demonstrations about Civil War camp life, something he admitted is a touchy subject with some.

“We put out feelers all along,” he said. “In this day and age it’s about balance. People look at the Civil War through a prism of 20th century, not what life was like in the 19th century.”

And while the event will honor Clement Dorsey, a confederate rebel buried at Summerseat, they will also honor Chris Costigan, a War of 1812 soldier, and Sally Craig, whose story, Lewis admitted, is just coming to light.

“That’s a story that needs much more investigating,” he said. “She was an African-American woman who was a beloved housekeeper for the Costigan family. She was a free woman and was buried in the family plot with members of the white family.

“In my mind, they wouldn’t haven’t had her interred in that family plot unless they felt some type of emotional tie to her,” Lewis pointed out. “It comes down to, where does the healing begin? She cared for those kids, she nursed them, and was closer to members of that family than some of their own. It is fitting that she is interred within the burial site of their family.”

Lewis admitted that the site is undertaking an effort to establish more information, not only about Sally Craig, but the historic site’s 200-plus years of history.

“We’ve got a lot of folklore,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do to establish fact from folklore.”

The event is $10 per car load, but veterans and their families are free.

Go to summerseat.org for more information. 

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com