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The History Behind the Name 'Sixes Bridge'

Ed Waters

(Originally Published in the Frederick News Post)

When Mr. and Mrs. Robert-Elliot Nielsen moved into an old house near the Carroll-Frederick county border and discovered that the house had been the mansion of Benjamin Biggs, a wealthy landowner, before the revolution. The Nielsens set to work restoring the house to its original state including the massive fireplace, second in size only to the one in the Governor's Mansion in Williamsburg, Va.

One point of doubt rose in the Nielsens' search through records of the house and land and Biggs family and that was the naming of nearby Sixes Bridge which crosses the Monocacy River. The site is presently a controversial issue because of a proposed dam in the area which would supply water needed in the future, but would literally put the Nielsen house, and many others, underwater.

Mrs. Dorothy Albaugh, ancestors, the Six family, dwelt in the Biggs Mansion in the late l800s. According to Mrs. Albgtigh her family owned two farms across the Monocacy, including the well-known Castle Farm.

"The bridge and road were named for my family who helped build the bridge," Mrs. Albaugh said. She added that the family had only rented the Biggs house and though she has many memories of the other houses nearby, she didn't visit the Biggs house to any extent. She has visited it since it was purchased by the Nielsens and is pleased that it is being restored.

"I was given this copy of a picture of the house taken in 1891," she said, "which is even before my father was married in 1893 and moved away." She remarks that her parents (her mother was the former Minnie Christian Hockensmith) were married Nov. 29, 1893 in Union Bridge by a Rev. Brown.

The Six family was quite musical, according to Mrs. Albaugh, and all played in the Detour Band. Her father, William, played the fiddle, uncle John the Bass fiddle, Newton the trumpet, Ersa the bass horn, Roy the drums and Marlin the slide trombone. Uncle Clayarchus also participated. The director of the band was Charles Hawk.

Though most of her memories are of her family's homes in Creagerstown and her grandmother's house across the Monocacy, Mrs. Albaugh readily talks of the way of life at the turn of the century. "There was a stream of water, diverted through the cellar of the house where my grandmother kept her cream pots to cool," she said. "We also used to make fly bushes (a sort of man-made horse tail) from sticks and strips of old newspaper and used old papers to make lamplighters. We didn't just throw everything away like today."

Mrs. Albaugh talked of her father making $1.50 per day firing a boiler at Penn Mar Park for Western Maryland Railroad. She adds, with a laugh, that she is a "cheap baby" having been She has delivered by a Dr. Kefauver for $5.

"My grandmother also had a bake oven outdoors and an unusual wooden washing machine. I've only seen one like it since at an area antique sale," Mrs. Albaugh said.

She remembers the 1914 fire which almost destroyed the village of Creagerstown, sending the town's two hotels, store and creamery, and many houses, up in flames.

Mrs. Albaugh also relates the humorous tale of a horse named Bob her father sold to a gentleman in Braddock Heights. A few days later the horse appeared at the Six home, having trotted clear across the county to his original home.

Comparing today's prices Mrs. Albaugh remarks that a loaf of bread sold for four cents and that the family had cows, sheep and a garden thus didn't need to buy much food. They also sold many items to a Baltimore huckster who readily bought any products for sale to the city folks.

"There was also an herb garden where my grandmother made medicines and teas," she adds. Mrs. Albaugh concluded that her main interest was to clear up the theory that the bridge had been named for the six members of the Biggs family as the land was divided into six sections, but was in reality named for the family of William Six Sr., who resided in the picturesque home at the time of the bridge's construction.

Have your own memories of the why things are named
 the way they are in the Emmitsburg area?
 If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

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