On Saturday, March 21, the Friends of Tolson’s Chapel dedicated the new gravestone marking the final resting place of Mary Virginia Cook, the last member of the Tolson’s Chapel congregation who passed away in 1996. Her grave site was never marked with a stone. In April 2014, the Mayor and Council of the Town of Sharpsburg initiated the Virginia Cook Memorial Fund, collected over $1,000 for the purchase of a gravestone. Most of the donations came from local residents who fondly remembered Ms. Cook. A gathering of family members, friends and neighbors, Mayor Speilman, and Julianna Albowicz representing Senator Barbara Mikulski, attended the dedication of the new headstone.
Bathed in the exceedingly welcome warm sunlight of the day, the gathering also marked the unveiling and dedication of the new wayside exhibit at Tolson’s Chapel. Funded by grants from the Community Foundation of Washington County (Mary K. Bowman Fund) and Preservation Maryland, the outdoor exhibit was designed by Interpretive Direction, LLC of Harpers Ferry and installed by the maintenance crew from Antietam National Battlefield. The exhibit provides much-needed interpretive information and illustration for the chapel, which is open for tours only on special occasions or by appointment. Central to the theme is the Freedmen’s Bureau school, housed in the chapel from 1868 to 1870, represented by a photographic recreation of the first day of school (April 6, 1868). Twelve local children volunteered to pose for the photograph and costumes were provided by the Antietam National Battlefield educational program. The part of the white teacher from Philadelphia was played by Andrew Rowand, a recent graduate of Shepherd University and a Civil War reenactor. Many thanks to all who helped make this possible!