Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

History of Harney - Part 2

J. W. Beck

Originally published in the Carroll County Times in 1895

Read part 1

First Public School

Prior to this time, (1887) we had no public school In this place; our children were compelled to walk to Piney Creek, and, in the winter, when the roads were bad, many of them had to stay at home; thus the education of many of our young people was sadly neglected: During this year an effort was made, and a public school started in a room above S. S. Shoemaker's Store, and Mr. J. A. Angell was appointed its teacher. The school was kept in this room for several years, until Mr. Shoemaker built an agricultural warehouse, and finished the second story for a school room, and H. O. Harner has been employed as teacher for several years; the school generally numbers from 40 to 45 pupils.

Buildings, Business, Fires, &c.

in 1888, James Eckenrode built the Union Hotel. He conducted the business for some years, when the property went into the hands of its present owner, Mr. T. H. Eckenrode. Since that time the property has been rented. During this year, J. V. Eckenrode built a frame house on Emmitsburg street, and fitted it up for a cigar factory. In the fall of 1887

the factory had been stated up in J. W. Hess's summer house by J. V. Eckenrode and Jacob Newcommer, with William Yearly as foreman.

In the Spring of 1888, Mr. Newcomer bought Mr. Hess's property, moved to town and, as soon as the new building was completed, the factory was moved and the business conducted by the, firm of Eckenrode & Newcomer. At one time they employed about 44 cigar-makers, and the business was flourishing.

In 1889 George Kemper and Daniel Hess each built new houses on Littlestown street. In the Fall of 1890, the firm of Eckenrode & Newcomer was dissolved, and the factory has since been run by Mr. Eckenrode, During this year the Lutheran church was built, a full account of which will be given in our history of the churches, and Mr. Eckenrode built a double house on Emmitsburg Street, adjoining his cigar factory. These houses have been rented to different parties ever since.

In the Spring of 1891 Mr. Newcomer started a cigar factory in Andrew Degroft's building, which had been previously occupied by G. M. Myers, jeweler. On May 15th, 189', a castle of the Ancient Order Knights of the Mystic Chain was instituted In the room over Newcomer's cigar factory. Soon this Order began to grow, and the room became too small. Mr. S. B. Shoemaker then put up a building on Littlestown street; he fitted up one of the lower rooms for H. A. Heck's boot, shoe and harness factory, and the other for J. W. Neck's barber shop, and reserved one room for his own use; this room, however, he has since rented to J. Newcomer, for his cigar factory. The entire upper part was fitted up for a lodge room, which has been handsomely furnished and occupied by the Order ever since.

In February of this year, Daniel Good's barn caught fire early one morning, and was entirely destroyed. How the building caught was unknown; this caused great excitement for a short time, but as it was pouring down rain at the time, and the wind was coming from the south, no other property was in any particular danger. In 1892, John A. Bishop bought a lot on Littlestown street from J. W. Siagenhaupt, and built a new house. Grier Shoemaker also built a very large, as well as one of the most handsome houses in the community, just at the edge of town, on a tract of land bought off of the Peter Sell farm.

In January of this year, Andrew Degroft's large machine shed, just back of the U. B. Church, caught fire. one evening about 9 o'clock, and was destroyed, with its entire contents, which consisted of two steam threshers, one clover seed huller, and many other articles , besides a full set of farming implements. The origin of this fire is unknown; this time a portion of the town was greatly in danger, and it was only through the earnest efforts of the citizens that no further damage was done.

In 1891. Shoemaker sold out his store to W. A. Snider, who is its present conducting the business. Henry Kemper also built a new house on Littlestown Street, near the square. In the early part of the present year, 1895, John T. Ohler built an addition to his house on Emmitsburg street, and weather-boarded the old part, finishing up with several coats of paint, making a decided improvement to his property.

We will now leave the town for a short time, and go to the west about a quarter of a mile; we find ourselves on the bank of the Monocacy, perched upon the summit of what is known as "Red Rock" this cliff of rocks rises to the height of nearly one hundred feet from the waters’ edge. From this point we desire to view the western section of the community. We see In the distance the fatuous Blue Ridge mountains extending north and south for many miles, and as we come nearer, we see the country decked with beautiful farms and magnificent forests.

A Famous Old House

We look again, and we see the bright sparkling waters of Marsh creek come slowly rippling down amid rocky hills, through green meadows and shady forests; across this stream several miles above its mouth, we see just at the foot of Harper's hill, the natural dam, which is a ledge of rocks 15 or 20 feet high, extending from one bank of the stream to the other, thus forming a complete dam. The waters, from this place were used many years ago, to run an old mill which stood a short distance below. We come on down past several fine farms until within about, half a mile from the mouth of the streams, and we observe an old brick house standing upon its right bank, which was built in 1793, some say by a man by the name of Stewart, but we are inclined to believe this to be only supposition.

This house stands exactly on the Mason and Dixon Line, one half in Pennsylvania, and the other in Maryland, with the line running through a large hall passing through the center of the house. Upon asking why the house was built that way, we are told that the builder was a slave owner, and, desiring to keep his slaves to 'work on his farm which lies principally in Pennsylvania, he built the house so that he could keep his slaves on the Maryland side."

Later on a man by the name of Watterson may have owned the property, and finally it was bought by William Walker, but, so far as we can learn, Mr. Walker never lived on the farm but we are told that for many years he kept one room furnished on the Pennsylvania side, but why this was done we have not been able to learn.

While he owned the property it was rented to quite a number of different parties; among the first was a family by the name of Patterson. Mrs. Patterson, we are told, was at very cruel woman; it is said that they had taken a small boy to raise, and that they almost starved him, and when he was so weak that he could not work, the woman caught him and ran a flesh fork through his ear, and pinned him down to the floor, and beat him shamefully, then shut him up in an old shed, where he died shortly afterwards. A post-mortem was held, and the stomach cut open, and found to be entirely empty; the woman was given a trial at Gettysburg, and cleared, but it is supposed that money is all that saved her. This did not clear her in the minds of the people and she was hung in effigy to a large oak tree near Piney Creek Church, thus plainly showing the opinion of the people. This, of coarse, was long before lynching became so popular.

After this, the farm was rented to Stultz, Spangler, Shriner, Sandoe, Lightner, and perhaps others, whose names we have not learned; finally however, the property came into the possession of Joseph Witherow, who lived there until his death, which occurred in 1890. Since that time the property has been in possession of his heirs. Several years ago Mr. Witherow had a new roof put on the house; the first roof was of shaved cypress shingles, and had been on the house for 96 years. This family seems to be rather unfortunate people.

Mr. Joseph Witherow had a leg broken; his son John, also a leg broken; Washington, was kicked b a horse, Mrs. Lydia Witherow and her grandson were both nearly killed from being kicked by a horse; a few years ago Mr. Witherow's house was burned, and, lastly, Miss Emma Witherow narrowly escaped with her life, by the horses running off with the binder while cutting the harvest this year.

Mills & Millers

We now leave this spot and follow the stream along Mason and Dixon line to its mouth. We look to the right of us, and we see Rock Creek, whose waters were tinged with human gore during the hard fought battle of Gettysburg, July 1st., 2nd., and 3rd., 1863, come flowing gently down past the many fertile farms which are located along its banks.

Just as this stream leaves the Keystone State and flows Into Maryland, Rock Creek and Marsh Creek unite and form the Monocacy. Just how this stream got its name, is unknown; tradition has it that an Indian meet a white man at Red Rock, our present position, and as they approached Each other the Indian said to the white man "Memocacy down" meaning that he would not climb down over this cliff of rocks and after that the stream was called Monocacy. We passed on downstream for several hundred yards and we see an old mill which was built by a man by the name of Sheets in 1828.

This Sheets at that time owned a tract of about 700 acres of land surrounding this place; we are told that when the stonewall for this mill was first built inexperienced hands were employed, and it fell down three times for them; five masions worked on the job, and, one morning they went down to their work and discovered that the wall had again fallen down; three of them went back to the house which was some distance from the mill for their breakfast, the others gathered up their tools and carried them across the creek on the hill. Mrs. Sheets of course asked where the other two were and was told that they had a little job of pointing to do, before they could come, that it would get too dry if they left it. About this time the two gentlemen arrived, and the three left; after the two finished their breakfast they started back but none of them ever started to work, but all ‘skipped out’ across the creek, and left as rapidly as possible, without ever presenting their bill, and Mr. Sheets had to get another set of masons to finish the job.

Mr. Sheets carried on the milling business for a number of years, sometimes by employing a miller, and other times by renting the property; he afterwards sold out to Daniel Sell, who rented the property for a number of years, and, finally, it was by Peter Sell, who also rented the property until a short time before his death, when he sold it to its present owner, William Myers, who, in 1893, began to think he was getting behind the times and had a full set of rolls put in, and today it is considered one of the finest mills in the county; during the present summer of 1895, Mr. Myers built a new house on the property, which, without a doubt is a very handsome and comfortable dwelling.

The fording at this point was very dangerous and after a number of horses, and in man by the name of Glosser had been carried down the stream and drowned, the commissioners of Carroll and Frederick Counties met and decided to build a bridge across the stream, and then in 1879 a large and handsome wrought iron bridge was erected, with one long span of 200 ft. across the main stream, and two short spans of 100 ft. each, thus making the entire bridge 400 feet in length. During the summer of 1890 a terrific cyclone passed through this region doing much damage to property, besides blowing this bridge down, but it was again rebuilt in the spring and summer of 1891

We leave this spot into downstream nearly a quarter-mile further, where at the close of the last century, a little mill was built on the eastern side of the stream. Just who built this mill we are unable to say, but an old miller by the name of Shellhous, is the first we had any account of. How long he owned the property, we are unable to say; the next owner was Abraham Null, and after some years the property went into the hands of his son Samuel, who built another mill. This mill was intended to hull clover seed, and we are told, did its work to perfection. Later on, probably in 1844, Mr. Null built a large foundry, and employed quite a number of hands in the shop

During this time the clover mill was torn out, and the building used for a blacksmith shop. In the foundry Mr. Null made stoves, one of which Mrs. Lovina Shriver has in use at the present day; he also cast a great many plowshares, and did nearly all kinds of work belonging to the business. During this time William Crapster Store at this place; the store was at one time flooded, and much of the goods badly damage. Sometime during this period, the mill was blown down but rebuilt soon after, made much larger, and a quite an extensive business; the only trouble connected with this mill was in keeping the dam across the stream, to supply the proper water power; the dam has been torn out quite frequently thus causing great expense to the different owners

In 1893 while the mill was owned by Joseph Sterner, it caught fire, and burnt entirely down; the property was then sold to Andrew Stonesifer, who build a fine roller mill, and also put in a new dam, and today this mill stand has a good trade and is quite a convenience to the farmers in that part of the community

We now come back to the Lutheran Church Tower to take a look over the surrounding community. From this point, the first thing we say, is, that many hundreds of acres that were in woods at the beginning of our work, have long since been converted into beautiful farms with their broad acres heavily covered with a rich and abundant harvest. As we look to the south we see in the distance the church spires of Taneytown; coming nearer we noticed the village of Longville, and, upon coming still nearer, we behold the stream of Alloways hurrying rapidly towards the Monocacy, and we behold upon its banks the site of an old mill that Charles Hess, grandfather of Mr. Daniel Hess, came from Germany to this country sometime during the Revolutionary war, bought a few acres of timberland on the banks of the stream, and built a flaxseed oil mill and lived in the mill, and they are all of a very superior quality.

Later on he build a house and then put a set of choppers in his mill, afterwards a machine for grinding plaster was added and a sawmill was also built; we are not certain, however, that Charles Hess built all of these additions to his old mill. Some of them had been made after the property went into the hands of his son John, who mill for a number of years, when the property was sold to Abraham Hess, who afterwards tore the mill down and devoted his time entirely to tilling the soil.

When we look to the east, we see in the distance the steeples of Littlestown, and as we come nearer we behold many beautiful farms along the way. As we take a glance to the north, we behold Gettysburg with this historic battlefield. Its famous Round Top, it’s Evergreen Cemetery, and its beautiful monuments. As we approach our present position from that section we see beautiful farms all long the way, and our entire surrounding presents a scene of peace and prosperity

And now, before leaving this in the hands of some future writer, we desire to take one last look over the town and we finally have 50 comfortable houses, 177 inhabitants, three stores, 2 cigar factories, three blacksmith shops, one coach repair shop, one boot shoe and harness maker shop, one barbershop, two hotels, and two churches.

Have your own memories of Harney? 
Is so, e-mail them to us at history@emmitsburg.net