Chapter 9: Later Years on the Farm
During the 1950s, the farming operation continued much as in the prior decade. Modern machinery had been
developed but John did not buy a combine, bailer, or forage harvester. He continued to farm in the same manner, but engaged others to
combine the grain and bale the hay in the late 1950s,
particularly for the Bishop farm. Overall, he did not modernize
his operations to any extent, and
was one of the last farmers in the area to continue to cut corn and put it on shocks.
In 1953, Dr. W. R. Cadle remodeled the brick house next door to the farmhouse and established his residence
there. The Fuss family often helped the Cadles with work in their garden and yard. Shortly thereafter, Dr. John B. Howes, a professor
at the Westminster Theological Seminary, purchased the cabin across Middle Creek for use as a summer home and retreat. This
cabin later became
his retirement home.
Dr. Howes often traveled to meetings and conferences around Pennsylvania and Maryland,
accompanied by John Fuss, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
John and "Dr. John," as he called him, were close friends as long as
The former Ohler house on the hill had been purchased in 1946 after the death of Helen's mother for $3,675. It
was rented to Pete and Elizabeth Aldridge and later to Wilmer and Betty Baker.
The latter had a large family and experienced difficulty
meeting the $40.00 per month payments, so they fell behind.
By 1956, Helen decided that she
did not want to care for the eight room, two story house
when she retired. The
property was sold to Vernon and Blanche Keilholtz for $12,000. The
Keilholtz family were their neighbors until John and Helen
John and Helen retained the Bishop property along the Taneytown Road after the move to Locust Grove. It was rented to
Henry and Buella Hoke from 1935 until around 1945. Then Robert Troxell and
his wife rented the farm, which was rented still later
to a man named Wivell. About 1960 it was sold
to a partnership. The buildings were demolished when the Route 15 bypass was constructed in the 1960s. The
ten acres were farmed by John
until they were sold.
By the end of the 1950s, both
sons had taken other positions and were not interested
in taking over the farm. In fact, John strongly
recommended that they not become farmers. There
was a lot of money tied up in land, livestock, and so
on; the work was hard; and the return was just not
adequate to repay the effort. He never encouraged
his sons to take over the farm, believing that there was
a better life to be found elsewhere. At the same
time, Helen wanted to move to another house and away
from the farm.
Robert McNair owned a lot of
land to the north of John and Helen's property. The McNair family had
in fact received the land from the Penns, and had been neighbors
of the Ohlers since the 1850s.
Robert suffered a stroke around 1954,
resulting in considerable paralysis for about seven years, until his
Emma, Helen's sister, was a registered nurse and cared
for him every day. A male nurse had night duty,
but he wanted to have
every Saturday night off from work. The McNairs could not get anyone to fill in,
so John volunteered and stayed with his neighbor
every Saturday night for a number of years.
Chapter 10: Move to the Rancher
Construction on the new house was started in 1960 on the plot of land adjacent to the house where Helen had
been raised. John and John, Jr. cut a number of oak and pine trees from the woodland,
and Fred Green took the downed trees to his saw mill and sawed it
into lumber suitable for construction. All of the basic lumber of the house came from
First, a well was drilled, and then the excavation
began. The new house was built in the ranch style,
with kitchen, living room, bath, two bedrooms, and a full basement. The attic floor was used as
both a large open room for storage and also as
another bedroom for overnight guests.
Dale Witherow was the principal contractor. He was paid by the hour, rather than as a general contractor. Ralph
McDonald did the electrical work and James Fissel installed the plumbing. John and Helen
did a great deal of work on the house, such as carrying blocks and brick as they were
needed, providing the lumber, and so on. Russell Wantz and his three sons did the
plastering. The entire house was covered with the rough coat on one Saturday and the finishing coat the next Saturday.
The house was completed in 1961/1962,
but was unoccupied until September. John, Jr. and Sarah Carolyn Rice of Arendtsville were married on September 1, 1962. While they were on their honeymoon, John and Helen arranged for an auctioneer and had a
sale bill distributed. In late September, they
held a sale of the farming equipment and extra household
goods. At this time, they moved to their new
house, which would remain their home until they died.
At first, the address was just Route 2, Emmitsburg. Later, the Post Office
designated the address as 10818 Harney Road.
The U.S. Government began a Soil
Bank Program in the 1950s, and farmers were encouraged
to take their land out of production. In 1960, the
land on the south side of the Harney Road was put into
the Soil Bank for a five year period. Payments were
received from the government of about $30.00 per acre in
exchange for leaving the land fallow. John
continued to keep sheep and some cattle for the first
two years. They were pastured on the land on the
north side of the Harney Road. After this, the
pasture land was rented to neighbor Scott McNair for
John and Helen continued to own the farm after they moved to the rancher. John had a steer that was fattening which he
butchered that winter. For the first year, he went down to the farm every day to look around and see what was going on. The farmhouse
was rented also, until the property was sold. The farm had been listed for sale for some time,
until finally, in 1965, it was purchased by Charles
Wolfe, a real estate broker. He split off the house into one lot with several acres and the remainder of the 68 acres on the south side
of the road into six other lots for dividing into so-called farmettes of approximately
ten acres each. These were offered for sale, and
some were sold soon and houses established, where others remained in the hands of the investors.
The entire north side of the road of more than 200 acres
remained in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wolfe,
who did not repair or maintain the barn. The leaning east wall finally fell about eight years later, causing the rapid demise of the rest of
the structure. The remains were sold to a contractor for salvage. This barn had
been standing for more than 180 years.
The Wolfes built a fine summer home in the woods overlooking a rocky section of Middle Creek. They also built a
small barn as a stable in the pasture field nearby and,
for a number of years, stabled horses there
for riding. The old farm house was purchased by Louis Grandstaff and family and they maintained their residence there
until this day.
John was not ready to stop working
altogether. He spent several years working at the Mason Dixon Dairy. First he
worked as a general repairman and painter for some of the houses they purchased. He also worked in the milk
processing dairy, mostly making ice cream.
While they still owned the farm, he maintained the garden at the house and
he also maintained several other spots in the field. He continued to raise
more than he needed and gave away much of his produce to others. On Saturdays,
when the weather was cold, he and John Jr. cut
cedar fence posts from the woodland. They were
then hauled beyond the hill behind the barn, where John trimmed
them during the week and sorted them for sale.
John and Helen took several
trips during these years, crossing the country to California every year or so. The
Greyhound lines usually featured, in the fall of the year, a $99.00 ticket which
they could use to travel anywhere in the country for a
ninety day period, so long as they did not retrace their route. The longest portion
was a trip to California for a visit to John's
brother Rob. John and Helen generally returned home after a two
to three week trip and then went off again to Florida or New England or somewhere
else for another few days or a week.
After the sale of the farm, John sold the tractor to Reynard Stambaugh. The trailer
which had been used to haul posts was
given back to Lloyd Fuss, as this trailer had belonged
to his father. The garden was confined to a small
plot of land behind and on the
west side of the house.
Chapter 11: Later Years on Hill
Vernon and Blanche Keilholtz continued to live in the house next door, which had been built by Helen's
John and Helen established a close relationship with the
Keilhotz couple. Vernon was an active cattle and livestock dealer. Whenever they
left for vacations or short weekend trips, John took care of the livestock in their absence.
John and Helen continued to be active in Toms Creek Methodist Church until their deaths. John served for several
years as the delegate from Toms Creek Methodist Church to the Annual Conference meeting for the Baltimore Conference.
In the 1970s the
Senior Citizens Group was established in Emmitsburg, and
met at lunchtime in the old school. The meal that was served
was subsidized in part by federal or county programs.
About once a month, the lunch was held a local restaurant. This
organization became very important to John and Helen,
and they would miss it only in very bad weather or
Helen had always been a good seamstress.
She spent much time making afghans during her retirement,
and she produced at least 40 or 50, or possibly
Retirement gave John and Helen more opportunity for visiting and socializing with neighbors and relatives. They
usually were the first couple to visit newcomers who moved into the area within several miles of their home.
In this way, they established a very friendly relationship
with William and Louise Turney, who moved into a house
on Bollinger School Road, and
continued to visit with them on an almost weekly basis,
except under unusual circumstances.
John continued to travel with Dr. John B. Howes as
Dr. Howes went on speaking engagements. He enjoyed excellent health during his retirement years. He
normally weighed about 145 pounds in the
prime of his life and held to this weight until he was close to the age of 80. Helen's health was not as good, probably because
weight. During the last twenty years of her life,
she weighed about 160 to 180 pounds. She sometimes dieted
weeks or so, but lost only two or three pounds. Then she would say that she enjoyed eating too much and would go back to
her old habits. She was not at all adverse to eating large amounts of sweets.
Dr. Cadle continued as the family physician until he retired in 1975. Helen was often concerned about John,
and claimed that he was losing his memory, was slowing
down, and so on. Others pointed out that she was always more
than he was. On one occasion, when Helen was at
Dr. Cadle's office for her regularly scheduled appointment, she had Dr. Cadle go to the waiting room and
ask John to come back, presumably to hear about her condition. When John
reached the examination room, Dr. Cadle put the blood pressure monitor on
him before he realized what was occurring. His blood
pressure turned out to be good for a man his age. John would have no part of any other physical examination.
John and Helen's 40th wedding
anniversary was celebrated on March 9, 1969, at their
son's home in Hanover as part of a joint celebration
with John's two brothers, Elmer and Clarence, and their
wives, Ethel and Helen. Present were the three
couples celebrating their anniversaries, their children
and families, and Johnís sister Carrie and Helenís
Their 45th wedding anniversary was celebrated five years later with friends and relatives
at the home of John Jr. on Sunday afternoon, March 3, 1974. By this time, John & Helen had five granddaughters.
Their 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated on Sunday, March 4, 1979.
Their sons and families held a reception
for them in the social room of Toms Creek United Methodist Church. Relatives, friends, and Church members were invited,
and about 150
As an anniversary gift, the sons gave them tickets to travel to California to visit John's brother Rob. This was
their first trip by air and they stayed one week. It was to be the last major trip of their lives. Their 55th wedding anniversary was
celebrated in 1984 with relatives and friends at their home.
John and Helen also spent a considerable amount of time
visiting their sisters in nursing homes. Emma had to leave her home in April 1969. She first
lived at Michael Manor Nursing Home in Gettysburg.
After a few months, she relocated to Papes Convalescent Nursing Home, also west of Gettysburg,
and remained there until it closed a few years later. Her last
years were spent at the Frederick Nursing Center in Frederick. Helen had Power of Attorney to handle her affairs. She visited
Emma at least
weekly until Emma's death in 1976. Helen's sister Roseanna
also lived in several different nursing homes until her
death in 1977. John's sister Carrie left her home in Emmit Gardens in October 1972. She lived at the Frederick Nursing Center until she died
20, 1982. John often remarked that he was tired of
visiting nursing homes. Yet he and Helen visited these three sisters on a regular
basis, generally once a week.
Chapter 12: Helen's Death
previously posted chapters of the life and times of John and Helen Fuss