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Slate Ridge Farm – A Short Story

Harold Craig

This photo shows how the valley looked when the two
Zentz farms and the Zentz mill were located there.
This valley was once known as Zentztown.

This photo shows the valley where the Zentz mill and farm was formerly located. It is now the family farm of Rodman and Jean Myers. The stone posts shown here give a glimpse into the past, showing where the old lane to the Zentz Mill and farm used to begin. This photo was taken at the overlook at Payne’s Hill, just off US Rt. 15 south.

Look west from the scenic overlook on Route 15 at Payne’s Hill toward the foot of Piney Mountain. Who would suspect that the story of this farm includes tales of deposed English kings, Irish lords, a fleeing Flemish page, and early English colonists? Yes it does.

The chain of title to the farm stretches back to the King of England, who granted the whole of Maryland, not previously granted, to Sir Cecil Calvert, the second Lord of Baltimore. John Digges obtained from the tract of  land from then Lord Baltimore a patent for a tract called Back Lands, part of which he transferred in 1728 to Arnold Livers, the former Flemish page.

Arnold Livers divided his part into tracts called Slate Ridge Farm, Ogle’s Good Will, Lubberland, Duke’s Woods, Arnold’s Chance and Arnold’s Delight.

As early as 1733, William Elder and his wife Ann Wheeler Elder were living at Slate Ridge Farm. They never owned it. After Ann Wheeler Elder died, William Elder married Arnold Livers’ daughter Jacoba Clementina Livers and obtained title to part of Ogle’s Good Will, where they lived. Jacoba Clementina Livers was named for the Old Pretender, James (Jacobus in Latin) and his wife Clementina. Although Arnold Livers lived in Prince George’s County at a place called Timberley, he had a second home at Arnold’s Delight in the forks of Owings Creek.

In a note from the Daughters of Charity, the Elder and Livers families were described as excellent and cultured Catholics well-aquainted with Mother Seton. It was mentioned that they belonged to the Planter families of Frederick County who sent their daguthers to Mother’s new boarding academy in 1810.
For years there was no Catholic church in the area and Mass was celebrated in the Elder house chapel referred to as Elder Station. The chapel was a room in the house which was as large as the rest of the house. The house was destroyed by fire in 1863. It was the home of Aloysius Elder, William Elder’s oldest son and the ancestor of Emmitsburg Commissioner Arthur Elder and Chronicle Press business owner Lisa Elder.

Arnold Livers sold Slate Ridge Farm to William Carmack, who in turn sold it to the Mathews in 1743. Conrad Mathews sold the farm to the Stewarts in 1795, who kept it until 1863 when the Zentz family, who were from Union Bridge, bought it. The Zentz’s built the mill that stood at the intersection of Smith and Lohr Roads. The Zentz’s held the property for nearly 100 years before selling it in 1962 to Rodman and Jean Myers, who own it still