Historic Church Site
The Evening Star, February 3, 1907 [pt. 2, p. 5]
Adjoining the Langdon school house on the west Rev. Father Southgate of St. Anthony's Catholic Church, in Brookland,, is having erected a neat brick chapel which it is hoped to have dedicated in a few months. It is not often that a new church takes the place of one about which there is so interesting a history as is woven around old Queen’s chapel, near Langdon and Winthrop Heights.
Three times in the life of a century and a half it was destroyed by fire, and after the lapse of nearly fifty years, in which the graveyard attached was nearly effaced, a neat brick chapel is being erected in which will worship many descendants of the communicants of colonial and revolutionary times. After the civil war the place was neglected, save by the descendants of a few loved ones buried there in enclosed lots, who kept these little spaces clear. So dense was the growth of tree and vine, however, that these lots were difficult to find.
Having apparently been abandoned, in 1901 some of the heirs of Charles I. Queen asked that the records of the District be changed so as to place the two acres in their names instead of Cardinal Gibbons, in whom it was asserted there was no title. The Star of March 23, 1901, noted this, and gave a history and description of the place. At this period the land surrounding it had been improved, the east platted into streets, squares and lots, on which were many houses and the village of Langdon located, and there had been suggestions to plat and sell at least a portion of it.
While the application was pending other members of the Queen family and others were not idle, and examination of the old records being made, it was found in the records of Prince George county at Marlboro that whatever interest in the land in question the Queens may have had had been vested in the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. The will of Richard Queen, who died in 1794, dated 1793, left to his friend, Rt. Rev. john Carroll, bishop of Baltimore, two acres of land on which the Roman Catholic Church now stands, "to be solely employed and used for the religious purposes of the Roman Catholic Church." He also directed that the land be laid off under the eye of the bishop or his agent and marked, and the stones then placed are at the corners of the lot.
This site is within the patent for Haddocks Hills granted by the crown in 1685. Subsequently tracts known as "Barbadoes," "Seaman's Delight" and "Inclosure" were carved out. The names of "Barbadoes" and "Seaman's Delight" suggest the sea, and perhaps, as Bladensburg was then a port, a veritable skipper was wont to regale his eyes by a view of his land when sailing to or from port. "Inclosure" became the property of Richard Queen in 1722, and hence the name of "Queensborough" attached, and has come down to this day. Mr. Queen and family, who were devout Catholics, and others, including slaves as well, for the purpose of worship, erected a chapel on his placed. This, it is said among the descendants, was about 1755, and some two hundred yards south of the present site. Here until sometime in the revolution the families of the faith and their slaves worshiped. Occasional calls were made by some traveling priests, among whom was Rev. John Carroll, who afterward was the first bishop of Baltimore. This house was burned in the days of the revolution.
A short time thereafter a conventional chapel was built by the Queens near the location of the little edifice now being erected, and in this regular service was held for forty years or more by Revs. John Carroll, Plunkett and Goring of Georgetown College, A. Caffray and William Matthews of St. Patrick's and others.
In the records of the church it bore the name of St. Mary's Chapel, but to the public its name was Queen's Chapel, as it has ever been known.
During the invasion by the British in August 1814, this chapel was destroyed. It was a small frame structure near the southwest corner of the enclosure, and over the entrance was a choir gallery and organ.
The chapel was rebuilt a short time after the war of 1812, and for fifty years, with but one or two intervals, was used exclusively for worship. About 1835, however, when the residence of Charles I. Queen, about three hundred yards south, was destroyed by fire and the family was homeless, it became their domicile until a new house had been erected. The want of educational facilities in the neighborhood prompted the use of the building as a school house on week days for a few years. This use did not, however, interfere with its use for services even on Sundays when a priest came out.
In the early part of the civil war many soldiers were encamped in the vicinity. Though several of the Queen family were in the Union service, some holding high rank, a rumor that the family sympathized with the south, had owned slaves, and that some friends of the family were in the confederate service was credited by some soldiers. These vented their spleen by carrying off the seats for firewood and applying the torch to the building, which in a little time was a mass of ashes. Infinitely worse was the wanton destruction of some of the tombstones in the graveyard, which is said to have taken place after the war. Numbers were missing and others broken. A fine marble figure of a kneeling child was among those carried off or destroyed.
About 1900 some of the descendants of Richard Queen cleared up the graveyard, at the time so covered with wild growth as to completely hide the tombstones remaining, and the following were exposed to view: Ann Carroll, 1805, Catherine Harrett, 1837; Hannah A. Queen, 1837, Lizzie M. Young, 1855 and T.J. Harrett, 1862.
The article published by The Star in 1901 was brought to the attention of the cardinal, and when Father Southgate took charge of the parish in 1903 measures were taken to preserve so historically interesting a spot by the erection of a permanent church edifice. Aside from this standpoint there was a good reason for the location of the church on the site, for within a short radius there is a sufficient number of Catholic families to fill the structure.
From a sparsely settled community forty years ago there has grown up the prosperous suburb of Langdon, with residences, factories and a school house adjoining the church site. It is safe to say that with electric and steam railroad facilities, as well as good country roads, many hundred descendants of the early worshipers will often attend services here.