With two kids currently in high school, and two freshly out in college, I’ve been reminded of the English literature that I read for grade school and college myself, many moons ago. I don’t know why I have not chosen to further explore, or re-read, the writings of William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer or John Milton over the last 30 years on my own volition, but I just haven’t unless asked to help my boys with an English assignment here or there. I must confess, I was eerily inspired to read a certain work of Eric Blair this past summer, which I did on the pleasurable confines of the Delaware seashore. Perhaps, it was simply a nostalgic sojourn back to the year I actually read this work of the same title, or maybe I just wanted to get a glimpse of the future ahead😉
Speaking of English writers and the future ahead, Valentine's Day, as mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is just a few days away as I publish this on February 12th, 2022. In particular it was mentioned regrettably by the Danish noblewoman Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
"To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more."
William Shakespeare wrote this passage around the year 1600, which can be found in Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5. I was curious of how, and why Valentine's Day came about, as Shakespeare helps date the “over-commercialized” holiday of love we celebrate today. And yes, you are in the right blog, as my trigger lies in the fact that we have many buried here in Mount Olivet with the name Valentine.
Wikipedia is a simple stop for shedding a basic light on what we are talking about with Valentine’s Day, but from today’s perspective.
“Also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, this holiday is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century. According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer's daughter a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution; another addition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the "lovebirds" of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.”
Hopefully that served as a fruitful public service, or refresher course for you, as it did me. I currently don’t have any FaceBook friends or acquaintances with the first name of Valentine, however I did have an old high school friend whose father held the name. As said earlier, the Christian name is something that can be found on numerous stones in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Valentine is a well-known last name from early Frederick history, found more prominently in the northern reaches of the county as a moniker of German immigrants. I have seen stones with this surname in cemeteries in, and around, Thurmont, with particular prevalence at the Moravian graveyard at Graceham, which dates back to colonial times.
Down here in Frederick's Mount Olivet Cemetery, we only have two individuals with this surname, and this is more of a recent occurrence, as the first of these two decedents’ passings dates back to the year of my high school graduation (1985). However, the inurnment of this individual's ashes (cremated remains) would not happen until June, 2018. Richard Alvin Valentine (1923-1985) can be found in a wall crypt within our Chapel Mausoleum.
The second Valentine (as a last name) to be interred here in Mount Olivet is Genevieve (Genny) Marguerite Valentine, loving wife of Franklin Leroy Valentine, Jr. for 46 years. Fittingly, Mrs. Valentine was a resident of Thurmont before her death on September 17th, 2020.
Born on July 13, 1941, in Frederick County, Maryland, she was the daughter of the late Andrew W. Altman and the late Lula M. Altman (Wiles). From her obituary, we learn that Genny worked early in her career for Price Electric/Airpax as an Executive Secretary and later a combination of secretary/buyer. Later, she worked for the federal government, first with the US Department of Energy and eventually retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an accounting tech.
Mrs. Valentine was a lifelong member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Frederick and was a very organized person and took pride in her attention to detail in everything she touched. She enjoyed the times spent with her husband traveling across the United States and the fun rides in the Corvette. She loved to try out new recipes. She never took short cuts and always cooked from scratch; she was one of the best cooks ever.
Genny spent many hours tending to her vegetable garden, flower garden and shrubs. She also canned both fruits and vegetables so that she and her husband could enjoy later in the season. But she especially cherished loving, spoiling and taking care of her dear little buddy, “Teddy Bear,” a cute and sweet Tibetian Spaniel. She always made sure he got to "go for rides" like he always loved to...even if it meant making up an on-the-spot reason for doing so. Genny was a great wife, friend, soulmate and a very private person who will be missed deeply and remembered always for her kind, loving, generous spirit.
I was tickled to learn that Genny’s beloved dog “Teddy Bear” is buried in our Faithful Friends Pet Cemetery area located behind our mausoleum complex, not far from her gravesite.
Finding we had two individuals and one pet with the last name of Valentine, I decided to search instances of Valentine as a middle name. Here, I discovered ten Valentines. These include the following, which I’ve decide to illustrate as a gallery. (Move mouse over thumbnails for caption info)
There may be additional folks in Mount Olivet with Valentine as a middle name as we may not have them recorded as such in our records.
This brings me to Valentine as used as a first name. I found 13 instances within Mount Olivet, however, I admit, there could be a few more as I can’t search our cemetery database by first name only. I could only accomplish this through the Findagrave site (wwwfindagrave.com). Our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group has been working to add to the amazing work of FindaGrave volunteers who have recorded our cemetery’s holdings on the popular internet offering as it only contains only 88% of our known interments.
I learned that some of these Valentines are related to some of the "middle-name Valentines" mentioned above. The same family links holds true to some of the Valentines possessing this first name as well. In one particular case, I have three gentlemen who hold the name of Valentine Brunner. I’d like to give these individuals special focus before naming the remaining ten others.
The earliest born “Valentine” buried within Mount Olivet is one Valentine Brunner born April 3rd, 1758. This gentleman has a memorial page on our MountOlivetVets.com site as he was a soldier in the American Revolution. In particular, Valentine served in the rank of Captain in Peter Mantz's Company of the Maryland Militia.
As far as Valentine’s patriotic service to our “new” country, he is listed as having been an “Associator” in December 1775. He enlisted as Private, on July 1st, 1776 for six months. He took the Oath of Allegiance, in 1778 and eventually received a pension for his service.
Not much more can be gleaned of his life outside of the obvious fact that he was related to one of Frederick’s earliest families—the Brunners of Schifferstadt, Ludwigshafen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. He was the son of Heinrich (Henry) Brunner (1715-1775) and wife Mary Magdalena Sellars (1718-1775). Valentine married Elizabeth Bohrer in 1803 and his last known home was located in the first block of E. Patrick Street.
Valentine’s dad came to America with family members including his father Joseph Brunner (1678-1753). They landed in Pennsylvania in 1729. According to German Reformed records, the Brunner family was known to be living in Lancaster (PA) at first but would migrate south to the Monocacy Valley of Maryland by the year 1736. Over a decade later, Frederick Town was founded and one year after, Henry and brothers Jacob and John, joined their father in purchasing land within the larger Tasker’s Chance tract from owner (and Frederick founder) Daniel Dulany. The Brunners would own tracts on Carroll Creek to the northwest of the earliest iteration of Frederick Town proper. Joseph would eventually deed his land named “Schifferstadt” to his youngest son, Elias, who would build the famed stone house of the same name which exists today as an agricultural museum.
Getting back to Shakespeare and asking his age-old question, “What’s in a name?,” I hypothesize that Valentine Brunner was named after a paternal uncle who died in Germany sometime around or before 1723.
Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht makes mention of Valentine a few times in his celebrated diary, written between 1819-1878. Valentine was one of a handful of Revolutionary War veterans who were honored at a 4th of July celebration held in Peter Fout’s woods in 1838. Almost three years later to the day, Jacob Engelbrect would pen this entry on June 29th, 1841:
“Died this morning between 12 & 1 o’clock in the 84th year of his age Mr. Valentine Brunner, an old citizen of our town. He will be buried tomorrow on the German Reformed Graveyard in somewhat military style, being an old Revolutionary soldier.”
Interestingly, Engelbrecht makes a later note stating that Valentine was born April 3, 1758 thus making him 83 years, 2 months and 26 days at the time of his death. Valentine and wife Elizabeth (who died in 1854) were removed to Mount Olivet Cemetery shortly after its opening in 1854. They were placed in Area E/Lot 207 on January 19th, 1856.
Just a few feet away is the final resting place of Valentine Johann Brunner and wife Susannah (Bohrer) Brunner (1799-1884). Many would assume him to be the son of the fore-mentioned Valentine, but this is not the case. I sure got my genealogical fix when I went to connect the dots.
Our cemetery records clearly state that he was born on August 28th, 1797, son of Jacob Brunner (1760-1822) and wife Mary Magdeline Schneider. Jacob was a second cousin, once removed, from Valentine, the Revolutionary War soldier we just talked about, having descended from father Peter Brunner and grandfather, John Jacob Brunner (1703-1783) the immigrant from Germany who was a brother of Henry Brunner (the Rev War soldier’s dad).
I then attempted to link both the wives of these Valentine Brunners as they share the same maiden name of Bohrer, later anglicized to Boyer in some instances. I was unsuccessful in finding them as sisters, which seems unlikely because of a 25-year age gap between them, however I strongly believe they were cousins.
Valentine J. Brunner was a businessman, who at one point kept a shop near the intersection of N. Market and E. Church streets. I found a number of tidbits about this Valentine J. Brunner thanks to Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary. Since they were roughly the same age, I assume the two gentlemen had been friends since childhood.
We can spot a glimmer of Valentine’s sense of humor thanks to a guest inscription Engelbrecht allowed him to make in the diary in his own hand and dated September 19th, 1833:
“Married in Scott County, Kentucky on the 17th instant by the Reverend Barton W. Stone. Mr. Lewis Ramsburgh to Miss Susan B. D. Briscoe. So that friend Lewis went all the way to Kentucky to get himself a ‘rib’.”
Jacob Engelbrecht records Valentine as serving as a member and one of the directors of the Young Men’s Bible Society of Frederick City (1821 and 1824), one of the first depositors and directors in the Frederick Town Savings Institution (1831), Senior Director of the Independent Hose Company (1834), unsuccessful candidate for the Frederick Common Council (1837).
Engelbrecht recorded his friend’s premature death on Friday, November 3, 1837 at 5 o’clock PM:
“Died about an hour ago in the 41st year of his age, Mr. Valentine J. Brunner of our town, son of the late Mr. Jacob Brunner of Bentztown. Buried on the German Reformed graveyard. Born August 20th, 1797. Aged 40- years, 2 months and 14 days.”
A final diary entry by Jacob Engelbrecht described the sale of the family home:
“The Reverend John L. Pitts bought this day at publick sale the two-story brick house & storeroom, the property of the late Valentine J. Brunner, next to the corner of Church Street, in Market Street, for two-thousand, three-hundred and five dollars."
Saturday, January 19th, 1839
The grueling exercise in genealogy for Valentine John Brunner certainly helped me sleuth a third Valentine Brunner buried in Mount Olivet, while inadvertently leading me to one more through a middle name. I had clearly missed this while compiling my collection of 13 earlier in this story. Shame on me, as I missed John Valentine Brunner (1792-1844). This Mount Olivet resident is the younger brother of Valentine J. Brunner, and was commonly referred to as “John of J. Valentine Brunner”--the “J” of course denoting the brothers’ father Jacob Brunner (1760-1822). This is the name also inscribed on his ledger style tombstone in Mount Olivet’s Area E/Lot 90.
I quickly recalled my past experience with “John of J. Valentine Brunner” as one of our collection of War of 1812 veterans. Back in 2014, we had a few commemorations here at the cemetery for the 200th anniversary of the confusing “Second War for American Independence.” This conflict, however, has lasting importance for Mount Olivet as it made a household name out of Francis Scott Key thanks to his attendance at the Battle of Baltimore in September of 1814.
Also in 2014, Mount Olivet published a book during the anniversary year entitled Frederick’s Other City: War of 1812 Veterans which features biographies on our known 108 veterans of that conflict. John of J. Valentine Brunner, or simply “John Brunner” as we identified him, was one of these veterans. Here’s a portion of that bio:
"Third sergeant John Brunner served under Captain John Brengle from August 25th to September 19th, 1814 in the 1st Regiment, Maryland Militia. This company served at the entrenchments of the Battle of North Point in Baltimore. Afterwards, they were discharged there in Baltimore and welcomed back home as the heroic defenders."
John Brunner got married in 1816 to Anna Maria Stickel (b.1794), daughter of Valentine and Catherine Stickel. The couple would have three children, the first of which was named Valentine Stickel Brunner after his maternal grandfather. The other two children included Mary Ann Elizabeth (1820-1887) would one day marry prominent Frederictonian Louis Markell, and Lewis Augustus Brunner (1823-1886) who moved to Sandusky, Ohio and had a successful career as a newspaper publisher at that place. Mrs. Brunner would die in 1829 and was laid to rest in the same German Reformed Burying ground where Valentine Brunner and Valentine J(ohn) Bruner were buried in 1837 and 1841 respectively. John Brunner of J would marry again and have two additional children (Caroline and Ellen) with Sophia Doll.
John Brunner died on April 12th, 1844 and was buried beside his first wife in the German Reformed Graveyard. They would both be re-interred to Mount Olivet on June 3rd, 1858. Second wife Sophia died in 1868 and was also buried here in this lot (Area E/Lot 90).
Valentine Stickel Brunner was born May 20th, 1818 in Frederick. He would marry Margaret M. Pyfer (1817-1910) on March 8th, 1853. The couple would have two children: Frances Markell Brunner (1854-1857) and Virginia Brunner (1855-1911). They would take up residence on the south side of E. Patrick Street next to the old site of the Quynn home and hardware store.
In 1852, Valentine Stickel Brunner purchased Col. Alexander B. Hanson’s Grocery and Commission Store at the Frederick Railroad Depot on Carroll Street. Four years later, he and partner Lewis V. Scholl bought the depot warehouses from Lewis Birely for $5000. The 1859-60 Williams' Frederick Directory/City Guide lists Valentine S. Brunner as a Commission Agent and Forwarding and Wholesale Liquor Dealer.
In 1859, Valentine S. Brunner bought a two-story brick house on E. Patrick Street from Col. Hanson for $ 4500. This was located at the address today known as 14 E. Patrick Street, site of the Serendipity Market.
Valentine became well-known in town as the local agent for Adams Express Company here. A little background on this forerunner of modern shipping companies like UPS and Fed Ex could be found online:
In 1839, Alvin Adams, a produce merchant ruined by the Panic of 1837, began carrying letters, small packages and valuables for patrons between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. He had at first a partner named Burke, who soon withdrew, and as Adams & Company, Adams rapidly extended his territory to New York City, Philadelphia and other eastern cities. By 1847, he had penetrated deeply into the South, and by 1850 he was shipping by rail and stagecoach to St. Louis. In 1855, the company was reorganized as the Adams Express Company.
By the time the Civil War started in 1861, Adams had operations throughout the American South, operating as Southern Express, led by Henry B. Plant. The company served as paymaster for both the Union and Confederate sides.
Mr. Brunner successfully weathered the American Civil War and continued in business for the next few decades until his death on December 8th, 1889. His obituary appeared in the Daily News, among other papers in the region.
Of additional interest, he was serving as president on Mount Olivet's Board of Directors and was also president of the Emmitsburg Turnpike's Board of Directors at the time of his death. Valentine Stickel Brunner was buried in Area E/Lot 90, a few feet away from his parents. His grave is adorned with a large monument that proudly displays his “lovely” first name.
Now for the best of the rest, ten more individuals who wore the Valentine first name when they were among the living:
So, there you have it—one can find Valentines throughout Mount Olivet Cemetery, 365 days a year. I hope you enjoyed this research jaunt, but a word to all you guys out there in need of a last minute gift for your respective sweethearts: Do NOT simply forward this “Story in Stone” to your better half (or crush), or entertain bringing them for a romantic walk/drive around the cemetery to view these grave sites in person! Flowers, chocolates and clever Hallmark cards will undoubtedly be far more effective.
Happy Valentine's Day, one and all, and thanks for your continued support of this humble blog, and our ongoing preservation efforts at Frederick's historic Mount Olivet Cemetery. Love to all of you!