Other enclaves of African American ironworkers in the Laurel area include Bacontown and the Grove. Bacontown was named for Maria Bacon, a former slave freed in 1860. In 1880, the plot of land she inherited from Achsah Dorsey, her former owner, became the basis for the Bacontown Community. The Grove was the home of St. Mark's Church, which for several years shared a pastor with Queen's Chapel. Snowden heirs Elizabeth and Mary Jenkins donated the land for St. Mark's to the community.
Children from all three communities attended the Muirkirk Freedmen's Bureau School, which was supported by Charles Coffin. The school taught White pupils in the morning and African American students in the afternoon. In addition to the school, Abraham Hall opened its doors to members of Rossville, Bacontown and the Grove. The Groves's annual Emancipation Day celebration was sponsored by St. Marks Church, the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham and other fraternal organizations, and attracted participants from the surrounding communities.
These institutions and events helped to foster a larger community spirit among African Americans in Laurel that did not vanish after the ironworks closed in 1920. Eventually the old ironworks was converted to a paint factory that made use of iron ore as an ingredient in paint pigment. Many former ironworkers found jobs at the factory, the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center or the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
Certificate of Freedom for Maria Bacon, founder of Bacontown, who inherited land from her former owner, Achsah Dorsey. Bacon did not work at Muirkirk, but Bacontown's residents had strong ties to the Muirkirk Ironworks and the communities of Rossville and the Grove. Courtesy Maryland State Archives.
Photograph of St. Mark's United Methodist Episcopal Church, circa 1980.
Photograph of Laurel's Emancipation Day celebration, circa 1910.