The First Methodist Episcopal Church in Beltsville By Ted Ladd
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
You may have noticed an historic marker in Beltsville commemorating Ebenezer Meeting House, the first Methodist Episcopal church in Beltsville. The marker is located near the intersection of Powder Mill and Gunpowder Roads.
In June 1836, Evan and Verlinda Beall Shaw sold one acre of land to five trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the purpose of building a structure for worship. This land was part of the Shaw plantation, located in Beltsville. Most of the former Shaw plantation is now occupied by Spicknall’s Farm.
The late Miss Susie Beal, a former member of Emmanuel United Methodist Church and an historian, described Ebenezer Meeting House as follows. “The church building was a small log structure with a gallery across the rear of the church. Plantation slaves sat in the gallery which was reached by an outside ladder. A small graveyard surrounded the church. Some stones were still standing after 1900. The cemetery contained whites of the community and slaves. The congregation was led by Circuit Riders and later by the father of Marcellus Roby.”
Today this land belongs to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and about a dozen graves are marked only by field stones.
From 1842 to 1848, Ebenezer was part of the Bladensburg Circuit. Ebenezer and more than a dozen other churches were probably part of the Bladensburg Circuit before 1842.
Evan Shaw’s will, dated January 1857, stated that his slaves were to be freed and were to inherit his plantation at his and his wife’s death. Mr. Shaw died in 1858 and his wife died in 1862.
Land records from 1866 show that the former slaves sold 100 acres of the plantation, and in 1877 they sold the remaining acres. This included the one acre of land occupied by Ebenezer Meeting House and the surrounding cemetery. No record has been found showing that the Baltimore Conference has ever claimed the one-acre purchased by the trustees in 1836.
* Most of this article was extracted from the History of Emmanuel United Methodist Church.
Photo Caption: Historic Marker for the Ebenezer Meeting House