Its been more than six years since
the first in the series of articles on the
History of Stony Branch Valley
was written. Over the passing years, as we learned more about the
valley, we’ve gone back and updated the original articles and maps. So if your memory is a little foggy on
their contents, or if you’ve never read them to begin with, I
suggest you do so before reading this or subsequent articles in
the series. Trust me, having those articles fresh in your mind
will make this article more informative and easier to follow.
For those who are unfamiliar with the
location of Stony Branch Valley, it’s approximately 3 miles
southeast of Emmitsburg. Stony Branch, like its better know
northern neighbor, Tom’s Creek, is a tributary to the Monocacy
West of where Stony Branch crosses
Bollinger School Road, near that road’s intersection with
Road, Stony Branch divides. Both branches parallel Motter Station Road, one just
to the south, the other, ˝ mile to the north.
The southern branch, the shorter of the two,
ends near the intersection of Motter Station and Old Frederick
Roads. The northern
branch runs clear to the mountains were it is fed by the spring
that feeds the reflecting pool at the
Grotto of Lourdes.
As noted in the second article in this
series: The First Settlers,
Mathias and Anna Zacharias were one of the first families to call
the Stony Branch Valley home there in 1759. Their homestead,
which their son, Mathias II christened Single
Delight, in 1773, stretched from Stony
Branch’s confluence with the Monocacy, up to its division into northern and
Of Single Delight's 210 acres, less then
1/3 of it was tillable. The rest, due to steepness of the hills,
rockiness, or the once active Stony Branch flood plain, was
useless for farming purposes.
Mathias Zacharias II, was the first of the
long Zacharias family line to be born in the new world. In 1776,
Mathias II joined with many of his neighbors in the area’s
revolutionary war militia under the leadership of Captain W. Blair
Lieutenant Henry Williams.
folklore, Mathias II served in the continental Army; was
present at the siege of Yorktown; and, acted as one of the guards
that escorted Hessians captured at Yorktown to the prison camps in York.
Mathias II was a successful farmer and
businessman, and over the years, aggressively added to his fathers
holdings, eventually becoming the largest landholder in
the Stony Branch Valley in the 19th century.
1811 Mathias II acquired the adjoining 120 acres 'Black
Flint' farm, from Henry Ableman. In acquiring Black Flint,
Mathias II gained control of the lower part of Stony
At the time, roads were few and far
between. The principal road in the Stony Branch area for trade and
travel north and west, began at a ford in the
Monocacy just east of where Stony Branch empties into the
Monocacy, on land now owned by Lisa and Earl Bell. The road then
followed present day Sixes Bridge Road for ˝ mile, at which time
it made a sharp 90 degrees turn west, along the northern half of
Still visible even today, this old dirt
path proceeded west toward its crossing of Stony Branch, passing
the homestead of Henry Bayer. Once across Stony Branch,
the road followed the stream bed cut in the surrounding hills. At Stony Branch’s divide, the
road followed the southern half, eventually connecting with the
main road from Frederick, just south of intersection of Old
Frederick and Motter Station Roads.
In 1824 Mathias II bought a third of an
acre of Long Field, just east and south of the
intersection of Sixes
Bridge and Bollinger School Roads, from his neighbor George
Flack. It was on this lot, that the first recorded one-room school house
in the area was built. Christened the: Franklin School, it
served for many years. When the
school was taken over by the new Frederick County Public School
System, it was renamed the Stony Branch School House.
In 1883, a
new one-room school, named the 'New Stony Branch School House',
was built just a few hundred yards east of the old school.
Like its predecessor, the new Stony Branch School held classes for
1st to 6th graders - in one room.
The original school was eventually razed, and a
monument was placed to mark its location. Unfortunately, the
monument itself was razed several years ago because "It interfered
In 1825, Mathias Zacharias II died, and
was buried on the family farm next to his parrents.
Mathias and his wife Anna had six children, three of which reached
adulthood: John, born in April 1788, Mathias III, born in September 1789,
and Christian, born in March, 1802.
Following the tradition of the time,
the Zacharias land was divided evenly among his three sons. The only
condition placed on the inheritance to the sons was to care for their mother until
In 1826, John the oldest son, acquired,
the Henry Bayer's homestead, a five-acre enclave sandwiched
between the Zacharias farms of Single Delight and Black Flint.
John purchased the Bayer homestead from Frederic Crabbs, the
local miller, who had acquired it by his marriage to a daughter of
Whitmore. This was John’s only acquisition, and he died six years
later in 1832.
In 1836, Mathias III, took title to Black
Flint, while Christian, the youngest son, took title to the Beyer
homestead. Mary Zacharias, Mathias II wife, remained on Single
Delight, which was still jointly held by the family.
In 1838, Mary Zacharias and her late son John’s wife,
Anna, acquired Groff's Content, a 120-acre track of land just south of
Single Delight. (Groff’s Content lies just to the west, and
adjoining Bollinger School Road.) In doing so, they reunited
Groff’s Content to Single Delight, from which it had been divided in 1765 by its sale
to Christian Keen by the Zacharias patriarch, Mathias I.
In April 1840 Mary Zacharias died.
Following her death, her youngest son Christian acquired title to
Single Delight. Anna acquired title to 'Groff's
Christian Zacharias married Sarah Picking. Sara was the daughter of neighbor John Picking, whose
farm, called Delight, lay just to the north and east of Single
Delight. [If one stands at the intersection of Sixes
Bridge and Dern Road’s, one is standing near the center of John
Christian and Sarah raised seven children. Christian, like his father,
uncles, and brothers, was a highly successful farmer and business
man. Likehis father and brothers, he expanded his land holdings.
In 1842, Christian obtained the mortgage of John and Sarah
Singer's 130 acre farm called 'Stony
Hill', which lay just south of Single Delight.
Following the death of their father,
John Piking in 1853, Sarah's sister’s, Charlotte and Ester sold
Delight to Christian Zacharias and Nicholas Stansbury. [The
latter of which you'll read more about in the next installment of
In 1859 Christian Zacharias and Nicholas
Stansbury sold 55 acres of Delight to a blacksmith named Thomas
Barton. Thomas lost no time in building a house and blacksmith
shop, a shop which quickly became the focal point of community
[During the great blizzard of 1995,
neighbors sadly witnessed the historic Barton house burn to the ground, a
victim of snow drifts so high, that snow moving equipment was
unable to clear the road for fire equipment. The Barton blacksmith building is still standing,
albeit in a condition of severe disrepair.]
Upon his death in 1875, Christian
Zacharias divided his property among his four surviving
children, with the stipulation that his wife Sarah, would have a
room of her own choice in the family house, and be supported
equally by the children. The death of Christian marked the zenith
of the Zacharias family in the valley.
Following the death of Mathias Zacharias
III in 1883, his brother, Christian II, purchased his Ester and Sarah's share in Single Delight. Almost
immediately, Christian II began selling off lots to fund new
purchases for his dairy operation, his ice-cream and dry goods
business in Emmitsburg, and his stately new house in the center of
Always looking for a way to improve way
things were done, Christian installed the first
electric milking parlor in the Emmitsburg area. Run on 32-Volts, the new system was
the forerunner of today modern milking system.
A suburb organizer and what today would be
called a community activists, he successfully lobbied the county for a bridge
over Tom's Creek, next to the old Maxwell’s Mill. When the first
bridge, a wooden one, fell less then two years after
its construction in the great flood of 1884, Christian again
successfully lobbied the county for a more modern bridge - a wrought
iron bridge. That bridge is still in use today, 115 years after it was constructed.
it's continued use was touch and go after falling during the flood of
1996 while under repair.]
Christian II also oversaw the building of
the modern day Four Points and Sixes Bridge Road to replace the old dirt roads that
ran along side Stony Branch and the dirt road from Maxell Mill’s
Motter’s Station on the Emmitsburg Railroad, roads
which were often impassable due to flooding during heavy rains. [It
was along the later road that
Felix Munshour traveled after killing his cousin James Wetzel in
The road improvements allowed Christian II to selllots along the new roads for a handsome profit
and allowed him
end public movement along roads that heretofore
had bisected his land.
Christian II and his wife, Margaret
Stokes, had four children: Helen, John, Ralph, and Richard,. All
of these children up until 1970 resided in Emmitsburg. In October 1916,
Christian Zacharias sold Single Delight to his oldest son John and
his wife Carrie. John would be the last Zacharias to farm Single
Delight. Richard, his son, was the last Zacharias to be born
on the farm, Eugene another son, was the last of the family to attend the Stony Branch one-room
In 1922, a great drought took hold of
the area, causing crop yield and profits to shrivel to nothing. In
desperation farmers began to withdraw savings held in the
local bank managed by two of Emmitsburg’s oldest and most and
prestigious families: the
Unfortunately for the farmer the
banking house of Annan and Horner was a house of cards just
waiting to fall.
Having planned on future deposits to cover
their expenses, the Annans and Horners depleted the bank’s holding
to finance their lavish personal life styles. With
what seemed an endless supply of cash, they propelled
a speculative land bubble, purchasing at greater then market
rates numerous tracks of land surrounding Emmitsburg.
As drought weary farmers sought to
withdraw savings to help make ends meet, the bank, with no reserve
to draw upon, was forced to call in mortgages, such as those held
by John Zacharias.
With no rain in sight, and no way to pay
his loan, John's mortgage was declared in default, and in 1923,
Single Delight, which had been in the hands of the Zacharias
family for more than 170 years, was sold at auction to Charles Dorcus, a local
The Zacharias family was just one of many
old families that lost their land as a result of the drought of
‘23 and the subsequent failure of the Annan and Horner bank. Soon
after the bank’s failure, both the Annan and Horner families left
Emmitsburg for the Midwest under a cloud of disgrace. The bank’s
mortgages where picked upon for pennies on the dollar by affluent,
out of state families like the Glasses and Nesters, and opened the
door for what is considered the third wave of families to call the
Emmitsburg area home.
In 1930, Charles Dorcus sold Single
Delight to Charles Bollinger, who successfully farmed it the next
30 years. An industrous, hard working family man, Charles once
again made Single Delight a profitable farm, and the envy of the
In 1963, Charles quit farming and sold
Single Delight to George Bassler. Charles moved just across the narrow valley to
Single Delight old tenant house. There, for the next seven years, he
began a labor love, turning the once dilapidate home into
the valley’s showcase.
Single Delight remained an active farm
under George Bassler for the next 20 year. With the area
increasingly becoming a bedroom community, and the one farm's
fertile soil now all but exhausted, Single Delight's value as residential property far exceeded its
value as farm land. So upon ending his farming career, Bassler
chose to break up Single Delight into its residential lots.
And with it, Single Delight's unique boundaries disappeared for all
Unlike Single Delight however, the Zacharias’s other two land holdings, Groft’s Content and Blank
Flint, still exist today with boundaries that a Zacharias family
member of 100 years
ago would recognize.
In 1857, 'Black Flint' was sold by the
descendents of Mathis Zacharias II. Over the next 50 years, it
changed hands four times. In 1913, Black Flint was
acquired by Martin Elmer
Valentine, who made his fortune blacktopping the roads in Northern
Frederick County. In the years to follow, Martin Valentine lost
most of his money as a result of a fast life and Florida land
speculation, but not before purchasing several farms in the area
for his children, only one of which, Black Flint, is still
in family hands today.
As noted above, Groff's Content
was sold by Christian Zacharias II in 1883 to Cornelius Dubel.
In 1904, Martin Elmer Valentine purchased it for his son, Harvey
Valentine, in whose family it stayed until 1955. Until 2000,
'Groff's Content' was farmed by Vernor Hines, and only last year,
was it sold again, and again, sold intact.
Of the many lots sold by Christian Zacharias,
the one of most interest to this writer is a two
acre lot on the northeast tip of Single Delight, next to the new
Stony Branch School House. It was upon this lot that a Mary A.M. Welty built
Charles Bollinger moved to Mary Welty's house
when he ended his farming career, and as noted above, he
spent the last years of his life rebuilding it to become the
valley showplace in the 1960's. After Mr. Bollinger died, the farm
passed through several hands, and by the later 1980's the Charles
Bollinger's showplace had once again begun to show it age. In 1988
my wife Audrey and I purchased the Bollinger farm house and in an
age old tradition, rechristened it
for the wind that never seams to cease blowing across the farm's
It was the
search for the origins of the house,
that Mary Welty Built and Mr. Bollinger saved, that led me to
research and then now document the history of
Stony Branch Valley, and soon, the History of the Greater
Index of the
History Stony Branch Valley