13,657. No, this is not the population of people interred in Mount Olivet, as we have over three times this number (41,010 at last count). Instead, this tally reflects the amount of emails that were currently in my work email mailbox when the following query came in on Monday, December 5th (2022):
Chris, my name is Don Sincell, and I am the mayor of Mountain Lake Park in Garrett County. I was referred to you this past summer by Kelly Russell, a city official for Frederick, whom I met at the Maryland Municipal League convention in Ocean City. My great-great-grandfather, a blacksmith/wheelwright, migrated to Garrett County in the mid-1800s from Frederick. So I have several relatives who are buried at Mt. Olivet, one of whom was Andrew Sincell, a cousin multiple times removed.
In the grave record book at the cemetery it states that Andrew was “officially shot by Sgt. ‘somebody’” in 1855. I forget the shooter’s name. Andrew was just 25 when he was killed. My question is, why was he “officially shot?” Was he a military deserter? Was he a criminal caught in the act of wrongdoing? Was he perhaps someone who got caught helping an enslaved person(s) escape to freedom? I have tried to find out the answer, but have been unsuccessful to date. Kelly said that if anyone could get to the bottom of it, you could. It’s also noteworthy that Andrew’s mother is buried next to him, and her death occurred within months of Andrew’s. Died of a broken heart?
Just as I love introducing readers, visitors, and lecture audiences and walking tour participants to the lives of those buried here at Mount Olivet (that I’ve had the privilege to research), my greatest thrill is the opportunity of having others introduce their ancestors to me.
This is one of those “opportunities,” and I will solve this “history mystery” for Don before your very eyes in this week’s “Story in Stone.”
The first thing I did was look for Andrew in our cemetery database. Here, I found three individuals by the name of Sincell, including an Andrew whose vital dates matched up perfectly to the info that Don had provided in his email above.
Our records show that Andrew Sincell was born on May 21st, 1830 and died at age 25 on August 7th, 1855. He was buried the next day in Area H/Lot 6. “Easy-peasy” so far! Before we go further on Andrew, I want to explain what I found upon looking closer at the other Sincells interred here. I found an infant Charlie Sincell buried in Area A/Lot 47 on January 1st, 1866. This individual was the child of Charles H. and Leah “Fannie” (Richardson) Sincell who would eventually leave Frederick and re-locate to Garrett County. A write-up on Mr. Charles Henry Sincell appears in the following online transcription from a Garrett County history from 1884 and saved to an Ancestry.com family tree.
Charles H. Sincell (1838-1884) was a younger brother to our chief subject Andrew, and both are related to the third Sincell in our database—Anna Margaret Sincell, also found in Area H/Lot 6. Anna is the mother of both Andrew and Charles and lived from September 14th, 1797 – February 23rd, 1856. This woman, like Andrew as I found, was a native of Germany. From what I can tell, they hailed from Hesse-Cassel based on a record relating to Andrew’s older sister Katherine in our database.
Anna M. Sincell died six months after Andrew, so Don Sincell’s theory of Andrew’s mother dying from a broken heart is certainly plausible in this case. Another note on this gravesite is that I have been here before. In June of 2017, Superintendent Ron Pearcey and I actually lifted Anna’s stone up after being face down for a number of years—an unfortunate, yet common, occurrence in our historical part of the cemetery. We had come to repair and clean another nearby gravestone brought to my attention by an email from a family genealogist in upstate New York who was also hunting the whereabouts of a distant cousin left behind in Frederick as the family migrated to Ohio in the 1860s. We had leftover D2 solution after cleaning this first grave, and Ron suggested we use it up on Anna Sincell’s grave. In doing so, we had to prop Anna’s tall marker against a neighboring gravestone.
Two things of note would happen soon after. First of which was exactly three days later on a Friday afternoon close to closing time of the office. Multiple ladies entered my door and asked for the location of an Anna Sincell. I recognized the name instantly! They had come from different parts of the country for a geneology quest of the country as I recall one from California and another from Florida, and another from the Midwest. I was so excited to lead them to this gravesite in person, and reveled in the serendipity of the moment as this marker had been face-down just three-days earlier.
The second event regarding Anna’s grave came with its re-setting in October 2019 as part of a preservation workshop hosted by our newly-formed Friends of Mount Olivet group and featured noted gravestone expert Jonathan Appell.
Anna had five other children that I could find: Margaret (1828-1869 and married Christian Getzendanner), Katherine (1835-1905 and married William Blumenauer), William Henry (1835-1905), John Charles (1840-1899) and George (1842-unknown). All five boys cam be found living with their mother in the 1850 US Census.
Anna’s husband, Henry, apparently died around 1842 and his grave whereabouts are unknown, but could have been buried in one of the two Lutheran graveyards of town that were in use at that time. He was a blacksmith by trade, and appears in both the 1830 and 1840 census with a variation on the spelling of the name that many believe originated as “Sentzell.” That said, they may have come to Frederick around that time, as Andrew’s birthplace is said to have been Germany.
So after finding a few pertinent census and baptismal records on Ancestry.com, I consulted Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary before going any further. I found exactly what I was looking for on page 779 with an entry the diarist made on August 7th, 1855:
"Shot-Andrew Sentzell was shot last night 12 o’clock PM by Police officer John H. Pope, it happened at the house of Ann R. Newport, up street. Pope had a process against him, for a long time already – but he left town and was working on the railroad – last evening he came to town & Pope met him at the above house, when he informed him of the writ he had against him, when an altercation took place – Sentzell drew a knife and attempted to stab Pope when Pope shot him with a pistol in the groins. Pope was tried before the proper authority this forenoon & honorably acquitted. Sentzell lingered until about ½ past one o’ clock this afternoon when he died. S. was “tight,” his age was 26 years – has a wife & was married only a few months."
Tuesday August 7, 1855 2 o’ clock PM
Two newspaper articles would back up Engelbrecht’s account. (I’m sorry about the poor quality of the following Frederick Examiner account. I have transcribed it below).
SHOOTING AFFAIR -A very unfortunate circumstance took place at a house of bad repute in West Fifth Street, kept by a woman named Ann Newport at 11 o’clock on Monday night. It seems that police officer Pope, having a writ in his possession against Andrew Sensill, for misdemeanor on a previous occasion, and having heard of his arrival in this city and being at the house in question, where he was riotous and disorderly, went to arrest him. On making known his mission, Sensill resisted, and commenced an attack on him, by throwing a pitcher which cut Pope on the head, and advancing on him with a raised bottle and drawn knife. The officer retreated, warning his assailant to desist and submit peacefully, until driven to the wall he fired a barrel of his revolver, the ball from which took effect in Sensill’s left side, fracturing the end of the ninth rib, and coursing along its inner surface lodged near the spine. Dr. Wm. Tyler, Jr., was immediately called to the assistance of the sufferer and after skillfully extracting the ball, dressed the wound. Throughout the night, Sensill’s condition was critical, but a favorable change took place in the morning with every prospect of his recovery. The forbearance and determination of Officer Pope are highly commendable and he has the gratification to know, however disastrous the consequences that he discharged his duty with fidelity. We learn that he promptly surrendered himself to the Judge of the Circuit Court, but upon evidence of the facts of the case, was honorably discharged.
P.S. Sensill expired at a quarter before 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon. He became delirious about two hours previous and died in great agony. Autopsy performed by Drs. William and Samuel Tyler, developed the fact that the ball had penetrated the lobe of the left lung, causing internal hemorrhage. Deceased was about 26 years of age, and married a few months ago. The unfortunate occurrence elicits general sympathy, both for the unhappy young man, cut off so untimely and for the officer to whose melancholy lot it fell, to deprive a fellow being of life, though done in self-defence and the discharge of duty.
Andrew Sincell was buried in Mount Olivet the following day of August 8th, 1855. However, he was not buried in Area H in the same lot number 6 as his mother. His tombstone is in Area K, about 50 yards north in lot 58 just a short distance off one of the cemetery’s driveways. This area came known to be “Stranger’s Row” and was a burial place for many infants and children of the town’s destitute of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Also buried here were indigent visitors and lodgers who died in town far from home, or were of unknown origin. Lastly, situations like this one. I assume that he may not have been allowed in the Lutheran burying ground because of his unsavory manner at the end, but it could have been a monetary strain for his widow and mother to obtain a burial space. Somehow, $3 cash was received by the cemetery but why was Andrew placed in Area K (where his stone stands) instead of Area H where his mother would be placed just four months later?
According to the timeline, Andrew would be the first buried here, followed by Union soldiers during the American Civil War. They would be removed to Sharpsburg’s Antietam National Cemetery in 1867. These “recycled graves” would go to strangers in the decades to follow.
Trust me, Ron Pearcey, my research assistant Marilyn Veek, and myself pondered this at length and even made a visit to both gravesites with interment records in hand. Andrew’s stone was familiar to us since it was cleaned this past summer, but our volunteers in doing work on Findagrave.com notice the discrepancy of this man’s gravestone being far from where our records claimed it to be. Could his remains be in H next to his mother? One theory we had was that Andrew could have been buried in H originally, but was bumped over to Area K later.
Interestingly none of Anna Margaret Sincell’s biological children are here with her. The Sincell lot in Area H/Lot 6 was purchased by John and Martin Sincell. I haven’t figured Martin out, but John is likely her son of the same name. He would eventually re-locate to Washington, DC, which is where other sons, George and William, would follow. Next to Anna Margaret Sincell is buried Christian Getzendanner (d. 1863), her son-in-law. This was the stone that Ron and I propped her gravestone upon before later re-setting it. Christian’s wife, Margaret went to Indiana and remarried a gentleman named Babcock. Remaining daughter Katherine Blumenauer is buried with husband George in Mount Olivet’s Area C/Lot 153.
There is one person of immense interest to this whole episode buried just feet away from Anna Margaret Sincell. In lot 10 of area H, one will find the gravesite (and an impressive monument) of John H. Pope—the man who fired the fatal blow to Andrew Sincell. Location, location, location as they say.
Officer Pope continued his work as an “independent officer,” appointed by the city to serve throughout the 1850s, and into the 1860s. This job is also referred to as a constable. He performed this role in addition to conducting a tobacco shop and is often mentioned in the old town newspapers.
The "cigar-maker" also has an illustrious past as a "slave-catcher." He sought to use his position in taking full advantage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress. In 1854, the year before the Sincell altercation, Pope announced the formation of an "independent police and detective force" in northwestern Maryland made up of what he called "an efficient force of spies" to detect and capture escaped slaves.
The Pope family last lived on the southeast corner of N. Market and 8th streets in a three-story brick house that has housed a laundromat on its first floor for many years. After the American Civil War, it appears that John H. Pope eventually hung up his pistol for a gavel. Although he served at one time as a bailiff and lawyer, Pope would not sit on the Frederick bench as a judge, but used said gavel in accordance with conducting an auction house business in the mid-1860s.
John H. Pope would move his wife Caroline (Doll) and children to Baltimore a few years later and that is where the 1870 US Census finds them living. He died in June of 1874 and was brought back home to Frederick for burial.
That leaves two more individuals that were part of the story. I was unsuccessful in figuring out the identity of Andrew’s wife “of two months.” I’m sure she moved on with her life with little issue. The other is Ann Rebecca Newport, purveyor of a house of ill-repute according to the Frederick Examiner article describing the shooting incident. I learned that she lived on the northeast corner of W. 5th and N. Bentz streets (129 W 5th St ). I didn’t find much other than census records, however the 1860 record is a gem, as it actually lists Miss Newport’s occupation as a "bawdy house keeper."
Somewhere along the line, our Frederick madam had married a man named John McKechney and can be found living in Baltimore with her son Luther as head of household. He was running a “notions house” for what it’s worth. Ann died on June 23rd, 1872 and her house was put up for sale by her brother Christian Newport, executor of her estate.
Par for the course with this whole story, there is more intrigue when it comes to our cemetery records. We do not have an Ann R. McKechney among our interred, however we do have an Ann Rebecca Newport listed as buried here. The problem is that her gravesite is unknown.
Oh well, Mayor Don, I hope I did you proud? Thanks so much for introducing me to "Cousin Andrew" and a cast of characters involving a notorious slave catcher and an early Frederick madam. As for Don's immediate family line, they have done very well in western Maryland. Don's great-grandfather, Benjamin Sincell (1869-1947), had an outstanding career as a newspaper publisher. This native-born Fredericktonian moved to Garrett County with his parents (Charles H. Sincell and wife Leah “Fannie”). Of course, you may recall me mentioning Benjamin's brother, the one- year-old child named Charlie who is buried in Mount Olivet's Area A.