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Von Schwerdtner Family Cemetery

A German-speaking family—the von Schwerdtnersoccupied an early 20th-century farm near Crownsville on the Severn River, west of Annapolis, Maryland. The remains of their farmhouse--Severn Hall--which had burned in the 1920s, and a deep well, survive.

Ruins of the von Schwerdtner farmstead.

A cemetery, with a single headstone and a footstone, occupies a wooded hill near the farmstead.

Friedrich J. Schwerdtner marker.

The marker bears the inscription:

Friedrich J. von Schwerdtner
26 Marz-28 Juli
Unser Früzchen:
Du kamst, du gingst mit leiser Spur,
Ein flüchtger Gast im Erdenland;
Woher? wohin? Wir wissen nur:
Aus Gottes Hand in Gottes Hand.

Crew member Myron Beckenstein identified the verse as that of romantic German poet and nationalist politician Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862).

The von Schwerdtner’s choice of verses provides insight into their attitudes toward Germany, presaging the action of Friedrich Schwerdtner, Senior, who returned to Germany in August 1914 to fight for his native land. By the time the US entered the war as an associated power in 1917, von Schwerdtner would not have been able to return to his adopted country. The US Government seized the family’s land in 1918 under the provisions of the 1917 Trading with the Enemies Act (50 U.S.C. App., 1 et seq.).

The only surviving son of Friedrich and Anna Katharina von Schwerdtner, Ernst Ottomar von Schwerdtner, successfully sued the government for his father’s moiety, granted to Ernst under the provisions of his father’s will. He was unsuccessful in recovering his mother’s share, which she stipulated would be sold and the proceeds bequeathed to several heirs in the USA and Germany (Von Schwerdtner v. Piper et al. No. 119723F[2d]862).

*N.B. Descendant Anna Katharina von Schwerdtner provided the name Severn Hall and corrections on July 8, 2007, for which I am grateful.