Hiram Percy Maxim's Gravesite in Hagerstown, Maryland
Isaac Newton famously said, "If I have seen farther it is from standing on the shoulders of giants." His statement was figurative, of course, but I can now say literally that I have stood on the shoulders of a giant. Somewhere recently, I don't recall where, I read that although American Radio Relay League (ARRL) founder Hiram Percy Maxim was born in New York and spent most of his adult life in Connecticut, he was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery located in Hagerstown, Maryland. That just happens to be where Melanie and I stop a couple times each year to visit her mother. We lived there ourselves for about three years in the early 1990s. That day, I surely stood if not exactly atop Mr. Maxim's shoulders, then very nearly so as I maneuvered to take this picture of his grave marker.
Why is he buried in Maryland, you might ask? That is where his wife's family's burial plot is located. Mrs. Maxim was the daughter of former Maryland senator and governor William T. Hamilton. Hamilton, in fact, helped establish the Rose Hill Cemetery in the mid 1880s. I must admit that I was sorely disappointed that such an accomplished man (Hiram) would have been laid to rest with so mundane a grave marker as this flush stone tablet. There may have originally been a headstone of some sort, but the brass marker there now is one graciously provided by the Antietam Radio Association in 1994. If there is any consolation, it is that even Governor Hamilton's grave marker, massive as it is, pales in comparison to many of the others there.
Melanie and I arrived at Rose Hill Cemetery after the office had closed for the day, so we had no idea where to look for Hiram Percy Maxim's gravesite. I knew from a Google search that he was buried in the Hamilton family area so we figured we would just look for the most magnificent plots and surely Hamilton would be amongst them. Not so, partially for the aforementioned reason. After about 20 minutes of running (OK, walking very rapidly) all around the place, we gave up and decided to call the next morning. As it turns out, the nice lady at the desk, who has incredibly neat handwriting BTW, was very accustomed to pointing out Mr. Maxim's final resting place. She had a map ready when we arrived. Even with the map we walked right past it a couple times. As a service to other Hams, I used my GPS unit to record the Lat-Long coordinates to make it easier for others to find. I also created a Marker for Google Maps that should eventually show up.
For the record, here are the coordinates along with a Google Map view of the cemetery.
N 99° 37.677'
W 77° 43.454'
Hiram Percy Maxim gravesite at Rose Hill Cemetery
Here is what the Hamilton family site looks like from the access road.
While searching for Mr. Maxim's grave marker during the initial visit, I happened to spot this headstone (left). I figured that if I could not actually locate Hiram's marker, I could at least claim to have found one that was a dead Ringer ;-)
... apologies to the Ringer family.
Not being one in the habit of visiting graveyards, I was amazed to see the impressive variation and creativity that goes into headstones. There were at least two of these Woodmen of the World tombstones (right).
Posted August 30, 2013