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The Farmsteads of Antietam – Samuel Poffenberger Farm

April 30, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

Sam Poffenberger farm in distance

Sam Poffenberger farm in distance, looking east across the Smoketown Road. 1891

On the late afternoon of September 16, 1862 Union soldiers pushed down the Smoketown Road as they pursued Confederate cavalry. Upon reaching the Samuel Poffenberger farm the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, the “Bucktails”, deployed as skirmishers and crossed his fields meeting stiff resistance from John Bell Hood’s Confederates.  The Bucktails continued to advance to the edge of the woods exchanging volleys with Hood’s men.  Colonel Hugh McNeil, commander of the Bucktails, stood to encourage his men to push into the woodlot, “Forward, Bucktails, Forward!” just then he was shot through the heart and died. His angry men jumped over the fence rail into the woods but were checked by the stubborn Rebel battle line.  Other Pennsylvania Reserve regiments moved into the East Woods as support, but as darkness set in both sides settled in just yards apart from each other laying on their arms.  Just north of the house and barn Union soldiers from Brigadier General James Ricketts Division bivouacked for the evening.

The Battle of Antietam started on the Samuel Poffenberger farm in what is known today as the East Woods. The farmstead is still a working farm on private property and it remains in the stewardship of the descendants of the Poffenberger family. 

1803 Tax Assessment

1803 Tax Assessment for Sharpsburg Hundred

In 1791, German-born immigrant, John Miller arrival in Washington County, Maryland.  Miller was part of the wave of German farmers that moved from south central Pennsylvania into the area. According to the tax assessment for Sharpsburg Hundred, by 1803  John Miller owned 632 acres of “Alese [Ellwick’s] Dwelling” and “Joe’s Farm,” both located north of the town of Sharpsburg.

Land Patents around sharpsburg

Land Patents around the John Miller farm

Stone house

Stone house the John Miller built

Most of the acreage from Ellwick’s Dwelling would later be know as the Samuel Poffenberger Farm.  John and Catherine Miller first built a log house on the property, then a stone house was built between 1802 and 1804.  The 2 1/2 story field stone house had five bays with a wing built over the spring and contains the kitchen with a massive cooking fireplace.  Under the main house the cellar has three rooms and another large service fireplace. 

 

Like the other early farmers in the Antietam Valley, the Miller’s cleared more and more of the land for farming.   When John Miller died in 1821, his extensive land holdings were divided among several of his children.  Daniel Miller, the oldest son was living on a new farmstead to the east of his father (listed as D. Miller on the 1859 Map of Washington Co.). John Miller’s other son Abraham, received full interest in this farm.  After thirty years improving the farmstead, Abraham moved west to Illinois.  During this period a large stone bank barn was built, a number of dependencies, including a wagon shed and a fenced orchard north of the barn along the farm lane leading out to the Smoketown Road.

Poffenberger Farmstead

*Sam Poffenberger Farmstead

Poffenberger Barn

*Poffenberger Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1854, the property was acquired by Jacob Poffenberger who sold it the following year to his son Henry Poffenberger.  It is possible that Henry and his family lived at the farm during this brief period. On the 1860 Census, there is a Henry Poffenberger listed next to Michael Miller (Daniel’s son).  Sometime before 1860, a tenant house was constructed  just south of the house along the road leading north out of the woods.  The farm hand living next to Henry was a David Jacobs.  According to the battlefield maps produced by Ezra Carmen in 1908, and post war photos, the tenant house was occupied by a Simon P. Morrison in 1862. 

tenant house

Poffenberger tenant house, 1893.

Poffenberger Farm in 1862

Samuel Poffenberger Farm in 1862

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approximate property boundary of the S. Poffenberger farm in 1862

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel and Catharine Poffenberger

*Samuel and Catharine Poffenberger

 

“On April 1, 1862, Samuel Doub bought the farm for his daughter Catharine and her husband, [Samuel Poffenberger] for $11,101.29”.  Samuel was one of several children of Jacob Poffenberger who lived east of Bakersville along the Hagerstown Pike.  At 24 years old, Samuel was still living and working on the family farm until he married Catherine on January 22, 1861. The following year, the young couple moved to the farm gifted to them from Samuel Doub.

 

The Samuel Doub farm was just off the Boonsboro Pike near Centerville or Keedysville (near Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd restaurant today).  At the time of the Battle of Antietam the Poffenberger’s did not have any children. Their first child was born in 1865  and they would have six children, unfortunately only three would survive to adulthood.  It is believed that the young couple went to Samuel’s parent’s farm north of the battle area for safety.

battlefield map

Carman-Cope Map at Daybreak, Sept. 17, 1862

 

At daybreak, the Battle of Antietam resumed in the woods south of the farmhouse and spread to the west to the Poffenberger’s neighbors, David R. and Margaret Miller. Union forces pushed south into the Confederate battle lines. Back and forth the sides pushed the other back through the East Woods. Finally, the Union Twelfth Corps, under Major General Joseph Mansfield arrived on the field near the East Woods.

 

 

Gould Map of the Antietam Battlefield

John Gould Map of the Antietam Battlefield where the 10th Maine fought and Mansfield wounded.

 

Being new to command and short staffed, Mansfield moved forward to deploy his infantry regiments into position when another Confederate attack struck.  Mansfield had mistakenly thought the troops to his front were Union, yelling out to his men, “You are firing on our own men!” But the soldiers from the 10th Maine try to convince him otherwise. Suddenly with a heavy volume of fire from the woods, Mansfield replied, “Yes, yes, you are right,”. Mansfield’s horse was hit and a bullet caught him squarely in the right chest. 

 

 

Mansfield cannon

Location of Gen. Mansfield wounding near the East Woods.

 

Mansfield was taken back up the Smoketown Road to the George Line farm when he would die the next day.  A division of the Twelfth Corps continued to push the Confederates through the woods, beyond the burning Samuel Mumma farm to the Dunker Church plateau. With no more threat from direct fire, the Samuel Poffenberger farm quickly became a field hospital and would be known as the “Stone House Hospital”.

 

Union and Confederate soldiers would be treated at the Stone House Hospital. Dr. Elisha Harris noted on one of his visits after the battle, that “75 soldiers were hospitalized, but the house had a capacity for 225”.  The Union surgeons were Dr. Chaddock and Dr. Young; Dr. Pierra, a Confederate surgeon, assisted the wounded.  Dr. Harris said that the Stone House hospital was “faithfully managed, every patient properly and kindly treated. Success good. No ambulances. Dr, C. has been overworked: he had but one assistant except a Confederate surgeon, he has taken care of his patients very faithfully”.

Helen Plane

 

One of the Confederate soldiers that was treated at the Stone House hospital was Captain William F. Plane.  He was critically wounded while leading a company of the Sixth Georgia Infantry in the Cornfield.  On September 9, Captain Plane had written to his wife, Helen back in Baker County, Georgia just before leaving Frederick.  He had talked about the beginning days of their campaign into Maryland and that he would be sending “an enameled leather bag with shoes, button, needles, thread & pins” to her the first opportunity he had.  He closed with, “God bless you my dear, and our baby boy. Love to Ira & the children. I am hurried up & hardly have time to say a word more. God bless all & give us success and peace”. “Yr own Willie”

 

Capt. W.L. Plane on Bowie List

This was the last letter Captain Plane wrote to his wife. On September 21, Colonel Alfred Colquitt, the brigade commander and very good friend to the Planes, wrote to Helen to notify her of her husband’s death.  Col. Colquitt explained that her husband had been seriously wounded and fell while trying to carry Col. Newton from the field.  As much as Colquitt wished to believe  Capt. Plane was just wounded and in the enemy’s care, he had found out the he and another officer were buried.   According to the 1868, Bowie List, Capt. W. F. Plane, 6th Ga, was buried on the Samuel Poffenberger farm.

 

Edward N. Fulton jacket and photo

Edward N. Fulton’s jacket and photo

Private Edward N. Fulton of the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteers was shot through both legs while fighting in the West Woods.  He was evacuated to the Stone House hospital for treatment.  On October 4, he wrote his mother from the Stone House hospital discussing his wounds and the care he is being given.  He closes with, “We are all to be moved to the General Hospital about 1 1/2 miles from here“. The next day, Fulton was moved to the General Hospital at Smoketown and the remaining wounded soldiers at Stone House hospital were moved to other locations as well.  The Samuel Poffenberger farm was appropriated for 19 days by the Union army and it is very possible that Clara Barton administered assistance to the soldiers there during her time at Antietam.

 

Poffenberger house

*Poffenberger house, ca. 1890’s
Samuel, Catharine and Edward on front porch

It is almost certain that claims were submitted for the use of the farm as a hospital and damage to the fields and fencing, but no record has been found. In 1868, Samuel paid $12,442 to his father-in-law,  Samuel Doub for the title to their property.  Over the next several years, the Poffenberger’s restored their farmstead as their family grew.  Around this time it is believe that a brick wing was added to the house, it may have encompassed a summer kitchen on that side of the home.

 

In 1870, Samuel Poffenberger’s farm of 178 acres was valued at $12,000.  They had “produced 1030 bushels of wheat, 57 bushels of rye, and 800 bushels of corn, with an annual labor cost of $500. Ten years later, even though Samuel had sold off a 12 acre section, the 165-acre farm saw an increase in production.  The farm “was valued at $10,000, produced 1,120 bushels of wheat, 75 bushels of rye, and 1,000 bushels of corn, with an annual labor cost of $60, and an additional cost of $125 for fertilizer”.

Samuel & Catharine Poffenberger grave

Samuel & Catharine Poffenberger grave in the Boonsboro Cemetery

 

 

 

By 1880, Samuel and Catharine’s son, Edward, took over the farm operations as his parents moved to Antietam Street in Sharpsburg.  Catharine passed away in 1897 and Samuel died in January, 1917. They are buried together in the Boonsboro Cemetery.

 

 

 

Edward & Bertha Poffenberger

*Edward & Bertha Poffenberger

Soon after the death of his father, Edward Poffenberger retired from farming.  Over the next thirty years he rented the farm out until his daughter, Erma U. Poffenberger Kefauver and her husband Millard bought the property in 1948. Erma and Millard completely restored the house and many of the “precious family heirlooms. Samuel Poffenberger’s rocker, dry sink, dining table and tall clock are still in use”.  (According to Nancy Kefauver, Samuel Poffenberger purchased the clock for $10. and it was a wedding gift to her and her husband.  It has always been in the corner of the dining room.)

 

clock and chair

*Sam Poffenberger’s Clock and rocker

Their son, Millard Kefauver, Jr., was raised on the farm and went off to Johns Hopkins to college.  It was here where Millard met his future wife, Nancy Neill. They were working on degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics. The couple married in 1956 and shortly after their wedding Millard convinced Nancy to move back to the dairy farm.    Growing up in the city, Nancy know nothing about farming but loved animals. Nancy said that her husband [Millard] never took to the cows and that the feeling was mutual among the cows, so she became the primary milker and she officially retired from the milking job four years ago.  Nancy still lives on the farm.

For 166 years the farmstead has been in the Poffenberger-Kefauver family and will remain so as a great example of private stewardship of the land and an eyewitness to history.

 

Poffenberger-Kefauver Farm

The Poffenberger-Kefauver Farm                    (Nancy Kefauver standing just inside the door)

*We are very grateful to Nancy Kefauver for taking the time to talk we us about the history of the farm, her family and sharing the photos of the her family and Poffenberger-Kefauver Farm.

* Photos provided by Nancy Kefauver of the farm and family did not have dates when they were taken, most likely between 1885-1901.

Sources:
  • Ancestry.com, Jacob Miller Family, Samuel Poffenberger Family, Millard Kefauver Family, Census Data 1840-1940.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\.
  • Banks, John, Antietam Time Travel: A Veteran of America’s Bloodiest Day Returns to Capture Photos of Scenes of Carnage. January 2019
      https://www.historynet.com/antietam-time-travel.htm.
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Fulton, Edward A. Edward A. Fulton Collection, American Civil War Digital Collections: Letters, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware. Retrieved https://library.udel.edu/special/findaids/view?docId=ead/mss0218.xml;tab=print.
  • Goud, John M., Joseph K. F. Mansfield, Brigadier General of the U.S. Army A Narrative of Events Connected with His Mortal Wounding at Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862. Portland, Stephen Berry, Printer 1895. retrieved: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32258/32258-h/32258-h.htm.
  • Kefauver, Nancy N. Personal Interview, 29 April 2021.
  • Lewis, S. Joseph. “Letters of William Fisher Plane, C. S. A. to his wife.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 48, no. 2 (1964): 215-28. Accessed April 11, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40578464.
  • Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery, and 1869-1873 (Oden Bowie) Maryland. Governor. A Descriptive List of the Burial Places of the Remains of Confederate Soldiers: Who Fell In the Battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, And Other Points In Washington And Frederick Counties, In the State of Maryland. Hagerstown, Md.: “Free press” print, 1868.
  • Maryland State Archives. Maryland Land Records On-Line, Washington County, April 25, 2021. https://mdlandrec.net/main/dsp_search.cfm?cid=WA.
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Kef-Poff Farm (Kefauver-Poffenberger Farm), WA-II-346, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1976.
  • Nelson, John N.  “As Grain Fall Before the Reaper”, The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam.  Hagerstown, MD. 2004.
  • Recker, Stephen J. Rare Images of Antietam: And the Photographers Who Took Them Another Software Miracle; Sharpsburg, Maryland 2012.
  • Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
  • Troiani, Don. Edward A Fulton image, Don Troiani Historical Artist, Facebook. May 4, 20202. Retrieved https://www.face
  • book.com/104952196246190/photos/a.104962546245155/3626084537466254/.
  • Washington Historical Trust, Architectural & Historic Treasures: 95 – Kef-Poff Farm, circa 1802, Sharpsburg, MD Hagerstown, Maryland September 7, 1997.  Retrieved   http://washingtoncountyhistoricaltrust.org/95-kef-poff-farm-circa-1802-sharpsburg-md/.
  • Western Maryland’s Historical Library. Washington County, Maryland, Taxes 1803 Lower Anteatum Hundred, Washington County, Maryland, 1803 https://digital.whilbr.org/digital/collection/p16715coll46/id/82/rec/11.
  • U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908.   Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Jacob Houser Farm

January 29, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

Houser Farmstead on ridge. looking west from Alfred Poffenberger farm.

One of the newest farmsteads added to the park inventory at Antietam is what we refer to as the Houser or Hauser farm.  This small 7.6 acre parcel had been in private hands until 2006 when the National Park Service acquired it.  Unfortunately there is very little semblance of the period buildings visible today and not that much has been written about the Houser farmstead, but we will do our best to tell the story of this eyewitness to history.

1859 Taggert Map showing the Grove farms

 

This farmstead was part of the land tract known as the Resurvey of the Addition of Piles Delight owned by John McPherson and John Brien, both well-known land speculators and owners of the nearby Antietam Iron Works. In 1814, they sold 225 acres of this tract to Philip Grove for $13,500. Michael Havenar also purchased a parcel just to the north of Grove, which would eventually become the Nicodemus Farm.  This property lies west of what we know today as the West Woods and the Alfred Poffenberger farm.  Within the deed there were indications that there were buildings located on this tract and a farm lane bordering the property to the south. 

 

The Maryland branch of the Grove family descended from the German settlers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Hans Groff emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1695 and his grandson Jacob moved to Maryland in 1765 where their last name was changed to Grove.  Jacob’s son Philip would become one of the leading merchants in Sharpsburg, owning large estates in and around town.  One of these estates was known as Mount Airy, a large farmstead just west of town which had been originally owned by the Chapline family.  Philip purchased the property in 1821 and completed the building of the house, which became the Grove homestead.

The 225-acre farm on Resurvey of the Addition to Piles Delight was divided between his daughter Mary Grove Locker and his son Joseph Grove.

The divided 225-acre farm. Joseph Grove on the west, .Mary Grove Locker on the east.

Upon Philip’s death in 1841, Mount Airy was willed to his youngest son, Stephen P. Grove.  The other tracts of land in Philip’s estate were divided among his other children.  The 225-acre farm on Resurvey of the Addition to Piles Delight was divided between his daughter Mary Grove Locker and his son Joseph Grove.  Since Mary resided in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the eastern half of this property that she now owned was leased.  Joseph on the other hand was most likely living on the 112-acre farm when he inherited it.

Joseph Grove was born in 1810 and married Susan Houser in 1836 when he was 25 years old.  Susan was the daughter of Isaac and Barbara Mumma Houser.  Over the next several years they had four children: Jacob, Lavinia, Jarrett, and Francis, or Frank.  By the 1840s, most of the Grove property had been cleared of the old growth forest making way for cultivated land but small parcels of woods were retained and managed like the farmers crops.  These woodlots provided lumber and cord wood as well as fence posts and shingles.  There were still two small woodlots remaining on the Grove’s property and it bordered David R. Miller’s woods to the east. 

Like most of the farmsteads around the area, Joseph Grove’s farm had a large bank barn and a number of outbuildings surrounding the house.  They also had an apple orchard just to the north side of the farm along the road leading to Mary Grove Locker’s farm.  There is very little documentation of the farmstead or it’s layout except for a 1930 aerial photograph.  Even though this photo was taken many years after this period, I believe it is fairly accurate of the mid 1800’s farmstead.

1930 Houser farm

1930 aerial photo that shows the Houser farm in the upper left.

Farm house, 1976

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of barn – 1976.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to Joseph and Susan’s four children, there were two other people living with them in 1850.  Fifteen year old, Eliza Bussard and Jacob Houser.  Jacob was a younger brother of Susan.  At 25 years old, Jacob was a farmer working with Joseph.  Later that year Jacob would start his own family with his marriage to Harriet B. Grove, a niece to Joseph Grove. 

1850 Census Joseph Grove

1850 Census Joseph Grove

Unfortunately, there are many missing pieces in this story but we know tragedy struck the Grove family in late 1850.  According to the Washington County death records, “Mrs. Joseph (Susan) Grove and child, died on Oct. 31, 1850”.  They would be buried at the Reformed Cemetery in Sharpsburg. While we do not know the cause of death, it may have been due to childbirth or some disease like cholera.  Sadly, Joseph died a few months later on December 7, 1850 and was also buried at the Reformed Cemetery.  The following year the records show that a son of theirs died as well, and although a name is not listed it is believed to be Jarrett.

After the death of their parents it appears that the children went off to live with nearby relatives. Jacob Grove went to live with his uncle Stephen P. Grove at Mount Airy and became a silversmith. Lavina moved to Martinsburg to stay with Houser relatives, most likely her uncle Isaac Houser, and Frank Grove stayed in Sharpsburg to live with a relative Jeramiah P. Grove. 

Jacob Houser 1860 census

1860 Census of the Jacob Houser Family

After the death of Joseph Grove in 1850, it appears that Jacob Houser took over stewardship of the farm until the children would come of age to take over or sell the property.  Over the next several years, Jacob and Harriet Houser had eight children ranging in age from 10 years old to just under a year.  Since the children were still young, Jacob needed a farm hand to help out around the farm, so 20-year old Samuel Piper was living with them.  According to the 1860 census Jacob’s farm was valued at $5,000 and his personal property at $400.   Sometime before September 1862, the three youngest Houser children: Joseph, Jacob, and Henry died and tragedy struck the Houser’s again on August 20, 1863 when the next youngest child George also passed away.  Again the record is vague but it is reflected in the Sharpsburg death register and the census data. 

 

houser farm layout

Houser farm in 1862

 The onset of the Civil War in 1861 tore many families and communities apart, especially in the border states and towns like Sharpsburg.  Many men in the area would join the newly organized “Sharpsburg Rifles”, a Union militia company that would become part of the Maryland Potomac Home Brigade; while a number of young men traveled across the Potomac to Shepherdstown, Virginia to join up with Confederate units. 

Frank Grove was just one of more than a dozen young men from Sharpsburg  along with Henry Kyd Douglas,  who lived just outside of town at Ferry Hill,  that crossed over to join up in the Hamtramck Guards from Shepherdstown.  Before leaving the Shenandoah Valley, they were tasked with the mission of destroying the covered bridge at Shepherdstown. Their unit became Company B, of the 2nd Virginia Infantry and would be part of the famed Stonewall Brigade under Thomas J. Jackson.

On September 16th, 1862 as the civilians in the Sharpsburg area were advised by the Confederate army to leave before the battle, roads quickly became crowded as families packed up some belongings and valuables to flee for safety.  “The Houser family was among the refuges on the road that day.  As the Housers shepherded their children along, a few stray bullets whistled past, and a shell hit a nearby fence, marking a lifelong impression on William Houser, then nine.” 

Carman-Cope battlefield map at 7:20 am

After ensuring his family was safe at nearby relatives away from the threat of the battle, Jacob returned to the farm to keep an eye on his property.  At daybreak on the 17th, the Confederate artillery just north of the Houser farm, on the ridge at Nicodemus Heights, opened fire on the Union forces positioned around the Joseph Poffenberger farm.  The battle had begun.  Jacob spent the day hiding in his cellar as more Rebel troops moved up from Sharpsburg across his fields as they were fed into the fighting at the West Woods.  Confederate artillery batteries repositioned around the farm to stop the ensuing Union forces from getting around the flank of Robert E. Lee’s fragile line.  Sometime during the battle eight Confederates also sought shelter in the cellar with Jacob but then a “shell came through the wall and burst, killing four of the soldiers and wounding the others.”

Carman-Cope battlefield map at 9:00am

 

Confederate Brigadier General Paul Semmes’ brigade of Virginians and Georgians advanced across the Houser farm and weighed in on the Federal troops at the Alfred Poffenberger farm.  Semmes’ men, with help from the rest of Lafayette McLaws’ division, were able to push the Union troops though the woods to the edge of the D.R. Miller farm, but this gallant action cost his brigade dearly. Suffering over 50% casualties, including three of the four regimental commanders, the brigade was pulled back to a reserve position to replenish their ammunition on the Houser farm. 

 

Elliot burial map of Houser farm

 

Antietam Battlefield Guide, Jim Buchanan points out on his blog, that many of the men from Semmes’ brigade would be buried right here on the Houser farm. Young William Houser remembered that the soldiers had been “buried very shallow, often were ploughed into, and of others in gutters being covered with brush and leaves, on the farm”. Many of these Confederate soldiers would be reintern into a Confederate cemetery at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown in 1872.

 

 

 

After the battle, Jacob said nothing had been disturbed by the Confederates but even though “Jacob Houser was described as being pro-Union, neighbors told the Federal soldiers camped on the Houser farm that he was a Confederate. The troops destroyed much of the Housers’ personal property, ‘and what was left was hauled away by their neighbors and kept.  Mrs. Houser was so terrified by that turn of events that she became ill, and kept to her bed for weeks.”

Before the Houser family could move back into their home extensive work had to be done to the house and the other buildings.  “They had lost all of the food stored up for the coming winter as well as eight hundred bushels of threshed wheat.  Soldiers had turned a drove of cattle loose in the Houser cornfield, and their hay had been lost, as well.  ‘The only thing my wife and I had left’, Mr. Houser said, ‘was five hungry children.’ Jacob totaled his loses and submitted a bill for nearly $3,000.  After years of fighting with the government, he received a little over $800.”

It is unknown how long after the battle the the Houser family moved off the farm, but they continued to live in the Sharpsburg District according to the subsequent census data.  In 1881, Jacob Houser died and was initially buried in the Lutheran Cemetery but was later moved to Mountain View Cemetery to be interned next to his wife, Harriett who died in 1887.

houser grave

Graves of Jacob and Harriet Houser at Mountain View Cemetery

In 1868 the farm was sold to George Burgan by Frank and Lavina Grove, the heirs of Joseph Grove.  Less than ten years later, George Burgan would sell the farm to William Roulette in 1879.  William was the grandson of Margaret and William Roulette. In 1880, the Shenandoah Valley Railroad was extending its service northward to Hagerstown.  The line was to be built just to the west of Sharpsburg and William sold a small easement to allow for the railroad to go along his west property line.  The farm stayed in the Roulette family until 1970, when the heirs of William Roulette sold the property to Leon Price. The following year, Price had sold a 7.6 acre parcel that encompassed the original house, farm buildings and orchard to Joseph Bell.  In the late 1990’s, Price had sectioned four, 1-acrce parcels off to be sold off and developed for single family homes.  These four lots along Mondell Road were part of the 112-acre farm.  

Jacob Houser Farmstead today.

In 2006, Joseph Bell entered an agreement with the National Park Service to sell his property with a clause to stay on for twelve years. After the Bell’s departed, the National Park Service became the full owners of the Houser farm.  Like all the other farmsteads on the field, the Houser farmstead is just one more eyewitness to history and the Battle of Antietam.

 

Sources:
  • Ancestry.com, Joseph Grove Family, Jacob Houser Family, Census Data 1850-1880.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Buchanan, Jim,  Walking the West Woods, 20 January 2021.   Retrieved from https://walkingthewestwoods.blogspot.com/2012/02/searching-for-lavinia-grove-some.html
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery, and 1869-1873 (Oden Bowie) Maryland. Governor. A Descriptive List of the Burial Places of the Remains of Confederate Soldiers: Who Fell In the Battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, And Other Points In Washington And Frederick Counties, In the State of Maryland. Hagerstown, Md.: “Free press” print, 1868.
  • Maryland State Archives. Maryland Land Records On-Line, Washington County, January 5, 2021. https://mdlandrec.net/main/dsp_search.cfm?cid=WA
  • Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Map of the battlefield of Antietam” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1864. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/185f8270-0834-0136-3daa-6d29ad33124f
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Frame Farmstead, WA-II-398, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1976.
  • Piper, Samuel W. Washington County, Maryland, Cemetery Records. before 1935-36. Western Maryland Historical Library. https://digital.whilbr.org/digital/collection/p16715coll31/search
  • O’Connor, Bob.  Introducing the soldiers of Shepherdstown, Apr 15, 2011. Shepherdstown Chronicle  https://www.shepherdstownchronicle.com 
  • Reilly, Oliver T. The Battlefield of Antietam. [Hagerstown, Maryland: Hagerstown Bookbinding & Printing Co., 1906.
  • Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
  • Walker, Kevin M., Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • War Department. Army Air Forces. photographer. Antietam Battle Field, Md. The Hagerstown Pike. United States, 1930. December. Photograph https://catalog.archives.gov/id/23940809
  • U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908.   Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.
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