GeoWoodstock XIII and Memorial Day Parade Open House

Welcome GeoWoodstock XIII geocachers and Sharpsburg Memorial Day Parade goers!

Tolson’s Chapel will be open for tours on Saturday, May 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Geocachers attending the GeoWoodstock XIII, we hope you will stop in for a tour! Sharpsburg Memorial Day Parade-goers, come see what Tolson’s Chapel is all about!

Sun Shines on Tolson’s Chapel Dedications!

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!

Maryland Emancipation 150th Anniversary


The Tolson’s Chapel celebration of the 150th anniversary of emancipation in Maryland was a huge success with a standing-room only crowd!  Keynote speaker, Dr. Hari Jones, curator at the African American Civil War Museum in Washington DC, gave a rousing talk about the positive impact of emancipation in Maryland, not just for the enslaved people who gained their freedom, but also it freed the enslavers, and American society that allowed slavery to continue, from the stain of slavery.  Dr. Jones reminded us to remember those who gave their lives – on both sides of the conflict – during the American Civil War.  The local NBC television station, NBC25, led the evening news with our event!  You can find that story here:



Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Maryland Emancipation at Tolson’s Chapel!

Join in a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Maryland Emancipation at Tolson’s Chapel on Saturday, November 1st, 2014!

The chapel door will open at 1:00 pm for tours and refreshments.

At 2:00 pm, our celebration begins, featuring gospel music, a conversation with emancipated slave Teany Watson (by Washington actress Jayné Price), and thoughts on emancipation by our keynote speaker Dr. Hari Jones from the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum (Washington DC).

The chapel will remain open for tours and refreshments following the celebration until 4:00 pm.

About our featured presenters:

Hari Jones seated with an American flag

Keynote Speaker Hari Jones

Hari Jones is the curator of the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC. He is one of the foremost authorities on the role of African Americans in the Civil War.  Hari presents a refreshingly new perspective on the subject. In his matter-of-fact manner, he reveals just how extensive and well-organized African Americans were in their efforts to end slavery and secure their rights as citizens. Before Hari fully immersed himself in the military history of Americans of African descent, he served in the United States Marine Corps for over twenty years. He retired as a captain in 1997.  Since then he has conducted extensive research on the African American overt and covert military activities throughout American history. Hari was a content developer for the National Park Service (NPS) museum at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama, a content adviser for the American Civil War Center exhibit Take Our Stand and a content adviser for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) exhibit Discovering the Civil War. Television outlets, includingthe History Channel, Public Broadcasting System (PBS) History Detectives, Henry Louis Gates’ series The African American: Many Rivers to Cross and NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? have also sought his expertise. Hari has written five historical works in his series For Light and Liberty. Volume one entitled The Road to Emancipation was published in November 2012.

Actress Jayné LaMondue Price performs as Teany Watson

Jayné LaMondue Price performs as Teany Watson

Jayné LaMondue Price (Teany Watson) first brought Teany to life in the play Antietam Anthologies, written and produced by Mark Brugh. She continues to demonstrate her versatility, skill, and passion for the stage and has performed in the Playmakers 2009-10 season production Heaven Can Wait and was a member of the stage crew for Catch Me If You Can. She holds a BA in Labor Studies (Professional Development) and through her business JLP Enterprises, provides exclusive entertainment promotion and event planning services including artist representation and booking, planning, coordinating and promoting events and entertainment. She spent over 20 years on the West Coast and is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, having received her theatrical training under the direction of writer/director/producer Silvia Cooper Nelson. Her professionalism, voice, and motivating personality are often sought after to serve as Mistress of Ceremony to enhance many events.

For more information, contact: Edie Wallace, Friends of Tolson’s Chapel,

The Season of Giving

In this wonderful season of giving, please consider donating to the Friends of Tolson’s Chapel. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit and, dare I say, desperate for annual operating funds (maintenance, insurance, mowing). Please help us keep this historical gem in its beautifully restored condition so we can continue to share its special story!

Chapel Open For Tours September 14th

Saturday, September 14, 2013 is Sharpsburg Heritage Festival and Tolson’s Chapel will be open for tours at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Please join us for a look around the chapel and learn about the nearly 150 years of history of the building, its congregation, and the restoration.  We have many newly donated artifacts on display!

Tolson’s Chapel On New Geocaching Trail!

Tolson’s Chapel will be one of many interesting historic sites included on the new Washington County GeoTrail.  Here’s the press release from our friends at the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:

New Washington County GeoTrail to be Launched September 14th; New Trail Consists of 35 Geocaches Throughout County

(Hagerstown, MD) — The Maryland Geocaching Society and The Hagerstown Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) are pleased to announce the launching of the Washington County GeoTrail (WCG). The Trail consists of thirty-five (35) geocaches placed at points of interest all over Washington County.

WCG geocaches can be discovered in National, State, County and Town parks as well as at Museums, Wineries, Historical sites and places of natural beauty. A trackable geocoin will be awarded to the first 500 geocachers who complete the WCG. The Washington County GeoTrail Passport and log book is available online at (Geocachers can click on the passport log book directly at:

Everyone, geocacher or not, is invited to join organizers on Saturday, September 14, 2013 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm) at the West Pavilion in Hagerstown City Park for the launch of this exciting Geocaching adventure.

“Geocaching,” pronounced “geo-cashing,” is a free, interactive outdoor treasure hunt. Participating players seek to locate hidden containers, called “caches” using their smart phone or Global Positioning System (GPS).

Founded in the fall of 2002, the Maryland Geocaching Society (MGS) was among the very first to organize around the adventure and passion of geocaching. Over the years, the Society has welcomed over 3700 members to its website and an array of ever-increasing state-wide activities. These activities include meet-and-greet events and meetings, working closely with state and local agencies to promote geocaching as an earth-friendly pursuit, promote “Cache In Trash Out” programs to assist in the maintenance of parks and trail systems, and promotion of geocaching as an exciting and adventurous outdoor recreation for the whole family.

Since 2002 the Society has fostered fruitful on-going relationships with an imposing array of park, forest, preserve, waterways and trust officials; built bridges to historic, geographic, cultural and public relations interests; and pioneered the Geotrail concept. In recent years, the Society has partnered with the Maryland Municipal League (MML), the Chesapeake Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and the National Park Service to create Geotrails that showcase the Old Line State and the Greater Chesapeake Bay region. The two MML trails showcased both well-known and no-so-well-known towns and hamlets from Oakland to Ocean City to North East and southern Maryland. Based on broad strokes in Maryland’s history, both the Star-Spangled Banner and Captain John Smith GeoTours led thousands of geocachers to sites all over the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. For more information, see:

The new Washington County GeoTrail includes caches in many parks, museums, historical sites, and other places, where visitors have the opportunity to explore the many hidden treasures of Maryland. The new trail is sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We welcome visitors to come and really see Washington County, from the farthest points west past Sideling Hill and east to South Mountain, and from the Mason-Dixon Line to the Potomac River – this new trail is a wonderful way for geocachers to explore our county,” said Tom Riford, the President and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to Dwight Wingert, a Washington County geo-caching enthusiast, “If people are looking for a fun and an interactive way to explore our unique local geography and history, then come and enjoy the journey on the Washington County GeoTrail!”

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization whose mission is to help attract visitors to Hagerstown and Washington County. The CVB helps to create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting, developing, and expanding the local visitor industry. For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County, see Washington County, Maryland was the first, of 31 counties in the United States, to be named after George Washington. Hagerstown-Washington County is home to five national parks, eight state parks, and over thirty county and city parks. Geocaching has been welcomed in Washington County for several years, and the county has been nicknamed “ground zero” for geocaching enthusiasts.

Coins will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis (mailed from the CVB). One coin per geocaching account. All geocaches are registered on Basic registration membership is free.

Chapel Open July 7th for Sharpsburg 250th

Come visit Tolson’s Chapel, Sunday, July 7th, from 2-4 pm, during the celebration of the Town of Sharpsburg’s 250th anniversary.  Sharpsburg was founded in 1763 by Joseph Chapline, who platted the town into 1/2 acre lots.  From the earliest years, African Americans, both enslaved and free, were a part of Sharpsburg town fabric, laboring on nearby farms, in town homes and businesses.  Tolson’s Chapel was erected in 1866 on the west half of Lot 104, at that time owned by Samuel Craig, a free African American and among the first trustees of the Sharpsburg Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.