Boone's Chapel, A Catholic Chapel and Cemetery

According to Jesuit Deeds and Records Boone's Chapel was erected in 1710 near Cheltenham in Southern Prince George's County, Maryland, and used until 1859.

Hattie Selby wrote of Boone's Chapel:

A Catholic Chapel which stood by the entrance to the Frank Selby tract had long before rotted down but the Church at Rosaryville was built later to take its place. Boone Chapel was erected in 1710 and served the Catholics of Prince Georges, Charles and Anne Arundel Counties. It served as a chapel for over one hundred years. The cornerstone of the Rosaryville Church was laid on Sunday afternoon, June 5, 1859. The one now in use near the same site is an enlargement of the old one. Some of the white families then attending were Mudd, Hill, Hall, Claggett, Horn and others.

grave stonesThree graves are marked with headstones and foot stones. Several crosses also mark grave sites. Inscriptions on the two grave stones at right are:

The third gravestone has a tree growing next to it as seen in the photo below. The inscription reads: Sacred to the memory of MARTHA ELIZABETH beloved wife of THOMAS N. MUDD and daughter of THOS. O. & MARY ANN WILSON. Born Dec'r 20, 1846. Died Jan'y 18, 1881.

The 2005 edition of the parish yearbook for the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in nearby Rosaryville provides the following history:

Most Holy Rosary Parish at Rosaryville traces its origins through Saint Mary's of the Assumption in Upper Marlboro to Boone's Chapel whose site was a mere stone's throw from the present church. Nature has preserved a living memorial to Boone's Chapel: a majestic white oak which casts its beneficent shade over the worshippers on Boone's Chapel for the one-hundred-fifty years of their gathering there and continues to grace the countryside with its silent witness.

It was here that Daniel and Eleanor (Darnell) Carroll brought their son John for baptism by the Jesuits in charge of the mission. It was this John Carroll who was consecrated bishop to the entire new nation in 1790 and archbishop in 1804. It was this John Carroll who founded the prestigious Georgetown University in what is now our nation's capital.

People worshiped at Boone's Chapel until the building of Saint Mary's of the Assumption in Upper Marlboro in 1848. Approximately ten years later a mission was established from Saint Mary's in Upper Marlboro to serve the people in the Boone's Chapel area. This mission Church stood on the site of our present Church until its destruction by a tornado in 1927. [It was rebuilt and weekly services are held there.]

Excerpt from radio broadcast in 1946:

gravestone, MuddBoone Chapel, in which the infant "Jackie" Carroll was baptized, was the first Catholic Church edifice erected in Maryland after the relaxation of the Penal Laws enacted by the Puritan council in Annapolis. The presumption is that it was erected as early as 1710 and was built to serve Catholics of Prince George's and Charles Counties and even Anne Arundel County, although few Catholics had seated themselves beyond the North River section. Boone Chapel has been considered the first link in setting up a church system for English speaking Catholics in the New World. It led to the construction of other chapels, such as the Carroll Chapel at Forest Glen in Montgomery County; Queen Chapel at Brentwood, District of Columbia, and the church or chapel at Whitemarsh. In other words, the erection of Boone Chapel marked the transition from the celebration of religious rites in private chapels to the building of structures definitely designed for public worship.

We know that Boone Chapel was in existence and staffed by one and sometimes two priests, Jesuit Fathers, and served this community for nearly one hundred and fifty years until 1859 when the Rosaryville Church was built at Upper Marlboro. Boone Chapel at that time had fallen into a state of disrepair and the selection of Washington as the capitol of the United States had opened up a number of settlements in the upper reaches of Prince George's County. The site of Rosaryville was found to be more convenient for the Catholic settlers of this new section. Hence we find the new church being established at a site on Nottingham Road, now known as Rosaryville, and also Oxen Hill near the Potomac River opposite Alexandria, Virginia.

Looking over the files of the FREEMAN'S JOURNAL of New York and the CATHOLIC MIRROR of Baltimore, we learn that the cornerstone of the first Rosaryville Church was laid on Sunday evening, June 5, 1859 by the Very Reverend Nicholas D. Young and that it was dedicated on Sunday, October 23, 1859. In the CATHOLIC MIRROR describing the dedication the editor remarks: "The cemetery of the old Boone Chapel will serve for the new church. In that cemetery rests the ashes of some of the most respectable families of Maryland. Their relations will, we hope, rejoice to hear that Boone Chapel will again be restored and the Holy Sacrifice offered there for their departed relations whose remains repose there."[Boone's Chapel was never rebuilt.]

We now come to the incident that bestows fame on Boone Chapel and its site. On January 8, 1735, was born a son, John, to Daniel Carroll a wealthy merchant of Upper Marlboro and Eleanor Darnell Carroll of Woodyard, his wife, a lady of great culture with a finished education acquired from the Flemish nuns in Europe. There has been a tradition that the first Archbishop of Baltimore [John Carroll] was carried by his Godparents in a coach and four over ten miles of ungraded roads of that day to Boone Chapel at God's Acre to be baptized by one of the Jesuit priests in charge of that mission.