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Fort Henry

The History of Emmitsburg East of Flat Run
& the Families Who Called It Home

Michael Hillman

The Nester Family and Brookside Dairy

Unfortunately for many of hard-working residents on the Emmitsburg area, both the Horner and Annan families liked to live well, and for many years they got away with drawing down on the banks capital, replacing it with self-back promissory notes whose value they determined based on projected future earnings.

While times where good, they Annan’s and Horner’s got away with it, but in 1922, a three-year long drought began, which pressed hard upon the local farming community. Like a house of cards, as farmers cut back on expenses, business in town began to feel the pinch. Eventually, many found it necessary to tap into savings to keep their lives going. As the withdraws for the bank began, the expected profit growths diminished and soon evaporated, The Annan began sold off thier vast land holding, including, this Long Field farm, but it was note enought, leaving the Annan’s and Horner’s with no other option then to call in loans.

Many, farmers, like the Zacharias family, already strapped by the burden of the drought, where unable to meet the demands of the bank, and found themselves in foreclosures. The forcing of foreclosure on many long time resident farmers only accentuated the growing demand on the bank, and soon it became a run. With nothing to give to their depositor but worthless promissory notes, the Annan’s and Horner’s were forced to close the bank in 1922.

Within a few months, both families had left the town, moving to the Midwest where relatives help them rebuild their lives. But for those who had lost their life savings, the story was different. Many returned to old family farms and began a meager struggle for existence.

Less then three years later, the towns other bank, the Central Trust, also failed, and in doing so, wiping out what was left of  the wealth in the community. While it would be three more years before the great depression would strike the country, by 1928, Emmitsburg was experiencing it full force. 

Desperate to raise cash, many farmers, like the Baumgardner's, where forced to sell their land at rock bottom prices, resulting in a new wave of immigrants into the area.

Within a short mater of years, the old established families that had held dominance over the economy and politics of the Emmitsburg area since its founding was replaced. With wealthy Virginia residents like the Glass’ and Nestor’s.

We know little about the Nesters other then they had the means and the will to maintain the Fort Henry’s mansion house in the style it had been built to. They had one daughter, Dorothy, who attended Emmitsburg High School, got married, and disappeared into history. Sometime around ___, Mrs. Nestor fell in the Kitchen of the mansion and broke her hip. A frail women, she never recovered from the fall and died shortly thereafter.

After his Wife’s death, Mr. Nestor married Elizabeth Morrison, the sister of Mary Morrison-Baumgardener, from whom he had purchased Fort Henry, and in doing so, established the family chain of ownership of Forth Henry that dated back to Henry Williams in 1762. Unfortunately, the chain would end forever with them.

In 1946, the nesters sold what remained of Fort Henry to Richard Kline, who for reasons only he knows, failed to maintain the mansion house.  Over the ensuing years, the once proud house fell into a state of disrepair. But in it later declining years, its original elegance shone thrown to those who wandered its debris strewn hallways. 


Strangely, the story of Fort Henry ends as it began, shrouded in folklore. In 1975, what remained of Fort Henry became the property of P. A. Small Inc., who purchased the property with the intention of razing the now dilapidate mansion and building a supermarket in its place.

The suspicious fire, which consumed the house and cleared the way for the building of the market, is still a sore point with many old time residents who fought valiantly to preserve what they considered a historic structure. 

Folklore has it that the fire company had received permission to burn the house as part of a training exercise, but with preservationist barking at their heels of the developers, someone got worried that the deal might not go thru, so they took actions into there own hands and torched the house themselves - or so folklore says.

Appendix:  Fort Henry Related Deed List

Wilson's' Fancy & Porter's Additions

7/12/1749 ?   -> Elizabeth Wilson 100 acres Wilson's Fancy
9/7/1751  Elizabeth Wilson -> William Porter.  Wilson's Fancy  100# 100 acres
	+ 9/17/1764    Grant  -> William Porter 76.5 acres Porter's First Addition
	+ 9/29/1764   Grant  -> William Porter 121.5 acres Porter's Second Addition

	- 3/19/1767 William Porter -> Ester Williams 50#   (Fort Henry)
		 	Part of William's Fancy 9.7 acres 
		 	Part of Porters First Addition 37.5 acres
		 	Part of Porters Second Addition 9 acres

	- 3/19/1767 William Porter -> Eleanor Williams 50# (Fort Henry)
		 	Part of William's Fancy 9 acres 
		 	Part of Porters First Addition 24 acres
		 	Part of Porters Second Addition 13 acres

	- 3/19/1767 William Porter -> Henry Williams 159# (Fort Henry)
		 	Part of Wilson's Fancy 50 acres
		 	Part of Porters First Addition 8 acres
		 	Part of Porters Second Addition 99 acres

Fort Henry

3/19/1767 William Porter -> Henry Williams 159#
	+ 5/29/1769   Ester Williams -> Henry Williams 56.2 acres	
	 - 5/29/1769   Henry Williams -> Samuel Emmit 25 acres (LMHM)
     + 5/29/1769 Samuel Emmit -> Henry Williams 20 acres
	 - 11/18/1773 Henry Williams -> George Hockersmith 25 acres 30# (LMHM)

4/10/1787 Resurvey of Porters Second Addition originally granted to 
              Henry Williams for 137 acres (includes northern top)
	+ 12/18/1788 Eleanor Williams Friend -> Henry Williams (PFA) 50 acres 137# 
	+  8/10/1792 Jermiah Emmit -> Henry Williams 26 acres 500#	
	+  2/8/1808 Benjamin Mckeen -> Henry Williams (AP) 30 acres 70#
	+  3/9/1808 Benjamin Mckeen -> Henry Williams (AP) 106 acres 500#

4/6/1812 - Resurvey of Fort Henry granted to Henry Williams for 298 acres
	- ?               Henry Williams -> ?           14 Acres
3/30/1854    Jane Williams -> Alexander Horner   312 acres
	- 11/30/1854  Alexander Horner -> Michael Rider 4 acres
	- 4/8/1856      Alexander Horner -> John Bucker & William Rice 9 acres
	- 2/9/1858      Alexander Horner -> John Gelwick 37 acres (really 45) $946
	- 5/27/1857  John Williams -> Richard Gilson 17 acres 

4/28/1868    Alexander Horner -> Eli Horner 272 acres
	-       ?	         Eli Horner ->  ?		         11 acres?
	- 3/12/1881    Eli Horner estate -> John Agnew   3 acres
	- 3/12/1881    Eli Horner estate -> James Elder   3 acres
	- 3/12/1881    Eli Horner estate -> James Elder   3 acres
	- 3/12/1881    Eli Horner estate -> James Elder   3 acres
	- 3/12/1881    Eli Horner estate -> Jacob Gillelan  18 acres
3/12/1881   Eli Horner est - > John and Alice O'Donoghue   242 acres
5/2/1893     John and Alice O'Donoghue -> Albert & Mead Patterson 242 acres $6,000
          -                    Albert & Mead Patterson ->  61 acres –> Emmit Gardens
5/2/1893    Albert M & G. Mead Patterson -> Enoch Frizell 181 acres $4,100
          -      ?             Enoch Frizell -> Frederick Welty 32 acres
4/15/1896   Enoch Frizell -> Stewart Annan $6,500 150 acres
4/11/1921   Stewart Annan -> Thomas Baumgardner 150 acres
	- 5/8/1925      Thomas Baumgardner -> Charles Sharrer ~.5 acres
	- 4/7/1925      Thomas Baumgardner -> John Wants ~.4 acres
4/8/1932    Thomas Baumgardner -> Ida Nester
          -  7/20/1946    Ida Nester -> Russell Ohler  ~.25a
          -  7/19/1926   Ida Nester -> Charles Sharrer ~.25a
8/28/1946   Ida Nester -> Brookside Dairy Farm ~ 150 Acres
4/10/1962   Brookside Dairy Farm -> Richard Kline 
12/12/1963 Richard Kline -> Three D Corporation (Richard Kline David Weinberg)
	- 12/11/1963  Three D Corp -> Richard Kline 
	- 7/14/1964    Three D Corp -> State of Maryland 9.24 acres	
	- 9/23/1964    Three D Corp -> James Nester  ~ .25 acre
	- 2/24/1966    Three D Corp -> David Weinberg ~ 3 acres
	-  9/26/1973    Three D Corp -> Still Development Company 18.6a –> Jublee
5/26/1975    Three D Corporation (liquidates) -> Richard Kline & David Weinberg
Alexander's Prospect

11/21/1750 John Doutheit -> Alexander Makeen 50# Doutheit Chance 50a 

4/8/1767 Alexander's Prospect [C-57]

12/13/1770 Alexander Makeen -> James Marshal  400 Acres #800
	•	77 acres out of Alexander's Prospect
	•	255 acres out of Doutheit Chance
	•	68 acres out of Mary's Mistake
3/9/1808 Benjamin Mckeen -> Henry Williams, 500#, 106 acres (FH)
Low Mill and Long Mile
      ?               ?  -> Michael Leggat Damhead 
5/27/1758  Michael Leggat -> Conrad Hockersmith 		
9/25/1762  Conrad Hockersmith -> James Agnew 161 Acres
	?           James Agnew -> ?
	?     Grant to Conrad Hockersmith for Hockersmith Inheritance 
  +  8/18/1785 Samuel Emmit -> Conrad Hockersmith 25 acres   60#
   + 4/30/1796 William Shields - > Jacob Hockensmith 

Part 1:  The Wilsons & Williams Families
Part 2:  The Horner and O’Donoghue Families
Part 3:  The Annan & Baumgardner Families

Read other stories by Michael Hillman

Do you have your information you can add about these families, or other families that once called Emmitsburg home?  If so, send them to us at History@emmitsburg.net

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