Our History and Function
Rockville Cemetery, on Baltimore Road, is our community’s oldest burial ground, located near the eastern edge of the City of Rockville, the county seat of Montgomery County, Maryland. The upper, western section of the cemetery is separated by age, a stream, and a dramatic change in elevation from the lower, eastern section. With gravestones dating from 1752 to the present, it is a classic 19th century rural cemetery alongside a mid-20th century lawn plan cemetery.The property is designated Rockville Historic District.
The roster of persons buried at Rockville Cemetery reads like a “Who’s Who” of Montgomery County and Rockville. Here you’ll find veterans from every American conflict, town mayors and county officials, farmers and carpenters, and well-known names in baseball, aviation, education, literature and astronomy.
From the Beginning
Burials in the frontier began soon after an Anglican chapel of ease was established here in 1738; the oldest extant tombstone is dated 1752. Nearly a century later, Christ Episcopal Church moved its congregation into the small town of Rockville but continued to use the graveyard. In 1880, representatives of five Protestant denominations incorporated the Rockville Cemetery Association of Montgomery County. The upper cemetery evolved into a stunning example of the Rural Cemetery movement, where the picturesque landscape, curving roads, attractive monuments, and plantings provided continuity for families and the community. Demand for space led to the addition of the lower cemetery, which was laid out in 1936 by Philadelphia landscape architect Robert Cridland as a handsome Lawn Cemetery. The property consists of 26.64 acres in which are buried more than 4,600 individuals. As Rockville continued to grow, so did the cemetery and the property was annexed into the City boundaries in 1984. Burials are still conducted every month of the year. Rockville Cemetery has experienced highs and lows in its 250-year history. Rejuvenated by the new corporation in the 1880s, the neglected cemetery’s future brightened under new stewardship and functioned as a community burial ground accessible to all. The Rockville Union Cemetery Society, an active women’s group led by Rebecca Thomas (Biays) Veirs, assumed management and maintenance to transform the property from a veritable wilderness into a place of quiet beauty. By the late 20th century, though, Association maintenance and community interest had declined dramatically.
In 2001, lot owners, community members, and public officials stepped up to incorporate Rockville Cemetery Association, Inc. (RCA) in response to an outcry of public indignation about conditions in the cemetery. RCA, which was recognized by the IRS as a private 501(c)13 non-profit organization, accepted title to the property and elected a new Board of Directors to turn the situation around. The association has improved the ongoing maintenance and appearance of the property. Extensive capital work was accomplished as well, including repairs to the 1889 caretaker’s cottage and outbuilding, extensive renovation of internal roads, drainage improvements, repair of hundreds of damaged and fallen tombstones, and installation of road signs to assist visitors in finding sites of family members and notable people buried here.
At the helm was Dr. Stephen Cluskey Cromwell, a beloved retired Rockville physician and descendant of Rebecca Veirs. Dr. Cromwell enjoyed reconnecting with many of his former patients and working with families in their time of need. He served as President for 13 years, during which time the Association considerably improved the cemetery’s condition. In 2014, Dr. Cromwell retired from the Board and was honored as President Emeritus. The following year, he was buried with military honors here.
Burt Hall, long-time leader of the City of Rockville Recreation & Parks Department and member of the new Board elected in 2001, served as RCA president from April 2014 to April 2020. Under his stewardship grave sales and burials grew substantially, improving RCA’s financial position. Thanks to stalwart contributions from multiple Board members, the Association continued the conversion of all cemetery records to digital format; grave site codification was standardized; a new generation of high-quality section maps was created; the website was expanded and enhanced; the caretakers cottage was refurbished and upgraded, including a public water connection; a tree planting plan was completed with more than 30 trees planted; and a more robust program of community events was initiated.
Mike Grant, an active member of the Board since his retirement from the National Park Service, took over as President in April 2020.
Notable Burials at Rockville Cemetery
Upton Beall (1770-1827)
The Beall family has a distinguished history in the civic, social, and political development of Georgetown and Montgomery County since the 1700s, and several members are interred at Rockville Cemetery. Upton Beall served as the 2nd Clerk of the Court for Montgomery County, and built the Beall-Dawson House in Rockville in 1815.
Richard Johns Bowie (1807-1881)
One of the most respected figures in Montgomery County during the 19th century, he served as a U.S. Congressman, in the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate, as State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, and as Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Judge Bowie owned the expansive farm adjacent to Rockville Cemetery known as Glenview, which exists today as Rockville Civic Center Park. One of his final civic actions was to incorporate the Rockville Cemetery Association, serving as its first president and donating five acres of land for additional burying grounds.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
One of America’s most celebrated writers, author of such works as The Great Gatsby, and often credited with creating the term “The Jazz Age,” Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were originally interred at Rockville Cemetery in the 1940s. In 1975, their remains were moved to St. Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville.
(Previously interred in Section C2, Lot 11, Site 2)
Walter Perry Johnson (1887-1946)
One of the greatest pitchers in major league baseball history and one of the first players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the “Big Train” lived on farms in Montgomery County (in Bethesda and in Germantown) and served as a County Commissioner. Read about “The Hall Ball” and its visit to our Walter Johnson’s gravesite.
Dr. Edward Elisha Stonestreet (1830-1903)
This prominent Rockville physician served patients in the Rockville area throughout the second half of the 19th century. A respected member of the community, he was elected one of Rockville’s first councilmen following the newly-adopted town charter of 1888.
The Rockville Cemetery is located at 1350 Baltimore Road, Rockville MD, 1⁄4 mile south of MD Route 28. There are separate entrances for both the upper and lower sections of the cemetery. The upper cemetery entrance borders the east side of the Rockville Civic Center Park, and is accessible from Avery Road, just off of Baltimore Road. Continue south on Baltimore Road to access the adjacent lower cemetery grounds. Both entrances are identified by “Rockville Cemetery” signs.
Mailing address: P.O. Box 4318, Rockville, MD 20849-4318
Board of Directors
- Hannelore Quigley, President
- Rick Cranford, Vice President
- Stephen Edwards, Treasurer
- Elaine Clagett Price, Director
- Bob Rosecrans, Director
Rockville Cemetery Association has one paid position, our Community Director. This is a complete list of Officers, Directors, Members, Agents, Managers, Etc.
The Board of Directors meets most months of the year on the second Tuesday of the month. You are welcome to join us at Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD, from 7 to 9 p.m. Our Annual meeting and Election is held during the April meeting.
In addition to the citizens it serves, Rockville Cemetery relies continually on various civic organizations, public interest groups, government agencies, and local businesses for ongoing guidance and support. The following is a listing of those major entities which have greatly contributed to our operations in multiple ways:
- The City of Rockville, Maryland
- The Rockville Rotary Club Foundation
- Montgomery History
- Peerless Rockville
- The Association for Gravestone Studies
- The Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc.
- The Maryland Arborist Association
To ALL groups and individuals which have directly supported our efforts to maintain and provide this historic cemetery, we express our heartfelt appreciation and recognition!
Support Rockville Cemetery
There are various ways to contribute and enhance the efforts of the Rockville Cemetery Association.
Volunteers are most welcome as are financial contributions.
If you would like to become more involved with Rockville Cemetery, here are some current opportunities. You may wish volunteer yourself or your organization.
- Research interred individuals and cemetery topics
- Write articles for RCA newsletter and website
- Help convert paper records to digital format
- Landscaping and gardening
- Assist with cleaning up flowers and decorations following Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas, and other holidays.
- Serve on the Board of Directors
Call or email us at (301) 309-0191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your donation will be put to good use.
All donations received by Rockville Cemetery Association – without service(s) rendered in return – are tax deductible.
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Download our mail-in form to submit your donation check by mail. Contact us to learn how “in-kind” donations can also be gratefully accepted.