Boone's Chapel

Family property in Cheltenham was called Boone's Chapel Farm and surrounded an acre or so of land called Boone's Chapel. All that remains of the chapel today are a few gravestones, remnants of wooden crosses, a few sunken graves, and a giant old white oak tree that marks one corner of the original Boone's Chapel.

Boones Chapel Growing up on Boone's Chapel Farm in southern Prince George's County, Maryland in the 1950s and 1960s with most of my Selby cousins was an adventure. The farmland had belonged to my grandfather, Frank Willes Selby, who inherited it from his father (Edwin Jeremiah Selby), who inherited it from his father (Joseph Henry Selby). That's five generations of Selby's that lived and grew up on land surrounding Boone's Chapel--and my parents were the first Catholics in the family to live there! It was puzzling at the time.

As children the cousins explored all of our farm and much of the land surrounding it, including the graveyard with the giant oak tree. The road from Old Alexander's Ferry to Nottingham passes Boone's Chapel (photo at right) and currently links homes on Boone's Chapel Farm to the county road. The tree marking the graveyard fascinated us; it was too large to climb with no branches for the first 50 feet or so. Although the boys tried to figure out ways to get up into the tree, it's doubtful that anyone made it without a tall ladder. It was, however, the destination of many Halloween walks where we usually managed to scare ourselves, with or without Grandpa Selby's help!

crown of oak treeFrom the front porch of the farmhouse built by Grandpa Selby, the crown of the oak tree stretched high above the surrounding forest. Today the other trees have caught up with it's towering height. This suggests that the area surrounding the tree was open meadow or farmland in the past. During one heavy snowstorm in the 1950s a limb of the giant oak tree broke and fell across the dirt road that connected us with the outside world. That limb was larger than many trees! Thankfully, my uncle, who owned a gas station at the time, had come home to the farm in his wreck truck before the storm and was able to drag the hugh branch to the side after many of the smaller branches were cut off.

When I began asking questions about the graveyard and it's connection with our farm, my mother informed me that there had been a radio broadcast about Boone's Chapel and the giant oak tree the month before I was born in 1946, and she had a transcript of that broadcast. That transcript is quoted throughout this website along with other research.

Boone's Chapel has very much been a part of my life, even serving as a springboard into the ancestry research that has been a life-long hobby. Since I now create websites for small businesses (and a few politicians), it seemed logical that the next step should be placing the family tree research on websites for family and friends. If your family has lived in the Cheltenham area, then you may enjoy looking for relatives in these additional websites:

Boone's Chapel Radio Broadcast of 1946

On Sunday, September 8, 1946 Station WPIK radio of Alexandria, Virginia broadcast a documentary on "Boone Chapel" in Prince George's County. The speaker was William R. Carr, student of Gonzaga High School, Washington, D.C.; officer of Richard Montgomery Chapter, Children of the American Revolution; and a member of the Maryland and Montgomery County Historical Societies. The full text of that broadcast is available HERE in pdf. Excerpts are quoted throughout this website.