Be sure to view the video documentary filmed at this website, produced during the early days of restoring this historic church structure. It is a wonderful video.
It has been a couple of years since I have driven to Oriole in Somerset County, Maryland. I had known that the process to restore the landmark, St. James M. E. Church, had begun at about 1989, at the same time I began my research into Delmarva African American history. I missed my chance to meet the late Sammie Thomas who was so instrumental to saving the historic building.
Thanks to those early efforts, the exterior survives, ensuring the future of this landmark. I understand they are in the second phase, completing the restoration of the interior. I wish them great success. What a wonderful building, community, and history.
However, I know very little about that history, other than what the website says and some of the work I knew Sammie Thomas did in documenting the history. I do not even know if their cemetery, the large one located directly across the road from the church, is documented. But driving past, I was most curious about the few grave markers located right next to the building. And who was Cholie Bell who died in 1911 at the age of what appears to be 89 years?