Parish began with Tubman Chapel in 1767

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
St. Mary Star of the Sea in Golden Hill is one of three churches in Dorchester County’s Catholic parish. It was built in 1872.

GOLDEN HILL — On Route 335 in South Dorchester, nestled in the woods, is St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church and its original Tubman Chapel. They are located in close proximity, the chapel to the north and the church to the south.

The Chapel is the oldest Catholic church and one of the earliest buildings in Dorchester County. It was built in 1767 by Richard Tubman II, on a small plot of land on his plantation.
The congregation was recognized by the Rev. Joseph Mosley S.J., the pastor of St. Joseph’s in Cordova. Catholics had worshiped in the area since about 1650, being served from St. Mary’s County across the Chesapeake Bay.

Upon completion of the present church in 1872, the chapel was sold, used as a country school, and later as a barn. It was purchased in 1958 by Joseph Belfiore and returned to the parish. Restoration was begun under the direction of the Rev. Carley and with the financial support of Mrs. Jacob France, a descendant of Richard Tubman II.

The Dunnock family provided land for the new church and cemetery, and the church was erected through funds from a bequest of Ms. Malinda Gootee to the Most Rev. Thomas A. Becker, Bishop of the Wilmington Diocese. Graves from behind the chapel were moved across the road as were graves from early parishioners’ grave sites.

Towering oaks frame the church and cemetery where Revolutionary War hero Major Vachel Keene lies buried. Inside the church is a window sacred to the memory of Mother Mary Borgia Tubman, born in 1824, an illustrious and heroic nun of the Visitation Order who founded schools and convents in Virginia and West Virginia. She was born at Cedar Point-St. Giles Field, down the lane by St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church.

This content is from the Star of the Sea Golden Hill Foundation’s website at