During the Civil War two Confederate Officers were killed in the action in Westminster, Maryland, on June 29, 1863, under other than normal circumstances. Lieutenants John William Murray and William Saint Pierre Gibson, both of the 4th Virginia Cavalry.

Lieutenant's Murray and Gibson


During the Civil War two Confederate Officers were killed in the action in Westminster,

Maryland, on June 29, 1863, under other than normal circumstances. Lieutenants John

William Murray and William Saint Pierre Gibson, both of the 4th Virginia Cavalry.

According to Miss Mary B. Shellman, of Westminster, who witnessed the battle, a governess

from out of town came into town after the day's action and is said to have recognized the

two Confederate Officers killed that day. She said, "one was a relative and the other a

friend." I have discovered that the governess was Rebecca or Louisa Denton of the

Thomas Emory Van Bibber family.

The bodies of Lieutenant's Murray and Gibson were buried on July 1, 1863, at 9 A.M., in


Union Meeting House Yard and taken up and buried in the Ascension Episcopal Church

Parish Yard on August 13, 1863.

Interring Murray and Gibson in the Ascension Episcopal Church Yard would have taken time

for proper arrangements to be made. Many stumbling blocks had to be overcome, because

on August 3, 1863, the Ascension Episcopal Church passed very stringent rules as to who

could be buried in the Parish Yard. If one were not a church member, permission had to be

granted by the Rector and the Custodians. Based upon these new rules, how is it that

Lieutenants Murray and Gibson were moved from the Union Meeting House to the

Ascension Episcopal Church Parish Yard? Someone of exceptional influence must have

been responsible to effect the movement. The individual responsible for this move would

have to have wielded unprecedented power in the Ascension Episcopal Church.

This person would have to have had absolute influence and control in the Ascension

Episcopal Church to have them buried there. Who paid for the unearthing, movement, and

reburial in the Parish Yard? Circumstantial evidence would suggest that the individual

responsible for these actions can be none other than Thomas Emory Van Bibber. Mr. Van

Bibber's governess was from Virginia and possibly Mr. Van Bibber might have had southern

sympathies or the governess exerted pressure to have Murray and Gibson moved to a

more acceptable site. According to an entry in the Ascension Episcopal Church records,

Thomas Emory Van Bibber, Senior, was appointed Warden in the Ascension Episcopal

Church on April 3, 1863. This would have granted additional power to Mr. Van Bibber.

The Van Bibbers were originally from Utrecht, Holland, and settled on part of Bohemia

Manor in Cecil County. Some of thedescendants of these settlers moved to Baltimore,

and went into the shipping business at Felts Point, then a rival of Baltimore, but now part

of it. They were very successful and built a handsome house on Thames Street. After

having amassed a considerable fortune at Fells Point, Washington Van Bibber (1778-1849)

and his wife Lucretia Emory, moved to Avondale in Carroll County, two miles southwest of

Westminster, and purchased the home of LeghMaster.

Legh Master had an infamous reputation. He reportedly became enamored of his black

servant girl and was infuriated with the intrusion of Sam, her sweetheart, and had him

thrown into an iron furnace. He then proceed to brick the girl up in an oven, alive. When

the kitchen in the house was torn apart due to a fire in the 1930's, it was found to contain

a human skeleton. Other stores tell of Master dressing in a white sheet at night and

running around his grounds crying, "stick, stuck."

Isaac Van Bibber, son of Washington Van Bibber, was born January 17. 1810, studied law in

Winchester, Virginia, and was admitted to the bar. He spent three years in European travel,

and returned to Avondale, and died there September 28, 1847.

From the Diary of Isaac Van Bibber, "In the evening, I took a long stroll with Brent along the

banks of the Patapsco. During our ramble we talked over all our reminiscences and

adventures in Winchester, Va, where we had both studied law together." This must be the

Van Bibber Virginia connection! Thomas Emory Van Bibber was the brother of Isaac.

While at Avondale, the Van Bibbers, through Isaac Van Bibber, as a result of his collections

in March 1844, built the Ascension Episcopal Church in Westminster. Two years later the

Ascension Church was consecrated on Ascension Day, 1846. And therethe Van Bibbers

reinterred the body of Legh Master, originally buried at Avondale. No wonder. Who would

like to have this man in their backyard?

The Van Bibbers would have encountered little opposition, if any, in the burial of the

infamous Legh Master in the Ascension Church Yard. Why should they, they built the

church. The movement of Murray and Gibson would not have presented any obstacle, but

might have caused some problems later after the citizens of Westminster realized what

had been done. Thus, more than likely, the sudden return of the governess (Dentons) to

Virginia in August 1863. The "scapegoats?"

It is curious that not one of Thomas Emory Van Bibber's immediate family members was

buried at the Ascension Church Yard after August 13, 1863. And Thomas is notably absent

from the church records after the burial of Murray and Gibson on August 13, 1863. Does

this mean that Thomas was in disfavor with the church hierarchy after this date? We may

never know the extent of the problems caused by the burial of Murray and Gibson, but can

only surmise the problems created were significant and far-reaching. In support of this

conclusion, Thomas is not buried in this Church Yard next to his wife Elizabeth, who died

on October 24, 1853. Why would one not be buried next to his wife, father, and brothers

and sisters?

Additional Info
bgill -Contributions private
View count:
112 (recently viewed: 1)