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The Dills Tavern

March 201 4

Ph. 717- 502-1440

Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society, 35 Greenbrier Lane, Dillsburg, PA 17019

Purpose: To promote and encourage the study, collection, and preservation of the historical heritage of the Northern York County area.

A Historical Research Report on the Burkholder Barn which is now a part of the Dills Tavern and Plantation Property was compiled and presented to NYCHAPS by John Zwierzyna. The Society wishes to thank Mr. Zwierzyna for his extraordinary efforts in compiling this in-depth report which includes chain of title, tax lists, wills, estate files, deeds, maps, census, reference notes, etc. Due to the amount of material, the Chronicle can only present a synopsis of the report in this publication. The full report will be available, at the Tavern and also at the Barn, for your perusal or personal studies of the surrounding area,


In 2011, the Northern York Historical and Preservation Society (NYCHAPS) dismantled a log barn in Franklin Township, and relocated it to the site of the historical Dills Tavern and Plantation in Dillsburg. The barn is referred to as the Burkholder Barn after its builder. The Burkholder Barn will support the Plantations mission to serve as a resource for the history of Dillsburg and the study of 18th and 19th century American life. The report traces ownership of the property from the Proprietors of Pennsylvania to Abraham Burkholders ownership in1797-1839, which includes the time period the Barn was built 1797-98, and beyond to include the present owner, Bernice F. Rakes who in turn, sold the barn to NYCHAPS.


DECEMBER 29, 1768 - Proprietors of Pennsylvania to DUNCAN MCMULLEN OCTOBER 9, 1772 Duncan McMullen to WILLIAM GODFREY CA. 1797 1798 - William Godfrey to ABRAHAM BURKHOLDER CA. 1839 Abraham Burkholder to JOHN HOLLINGER CA. 1849 John Hollinger to SAMUEL SHEFFER of Adams County. OCTOBER 8, 1853 Administrators of the Estate of Samuel Sheffer to WILLIAM & MARY ANN ORNDORF OCTOBER 8, 1853 William and Mary Ann Orndorf to ABRAHAM GRIFFITH Ca. 1891 Assignee of the Estate of Abraham Griffith to MARY JANE & ISAAC THOMAS March 20, 1918 Mary Jane & Isaac Thomas to F. A. COULSON March 28, 1927 F. A. & Mary Coulson to WILLIAM & CORA HOFFMAN March 15, 1930 - William & Cora Hoffman to CLARENCE H. & ELLA WHERLEY March 2, 1954 - Clarence H. & Ella Wherley to WILLIAM R. & ESTHER R. YOST August 29, 1963 William R. & Esther R. Yost to JOHN D. & CLELIA K. WEHLER November 12, 1970 Clelia K. Wehler, widow, to BERNICE F. RAKES, single woman. Rakes purchased Burkholder Barn property for $16,500. (Rakes, owner of the Barn property as of 2014, sold the Burkholder Barn to NYCHPS in 2011.) Duncan McMullen was the first individual documented to have owned the property on which the Burkholder Barn would eventually be constructed. Duncan McMullen is an enigmatic figure. Other than the reference to McMullen in his West Side Application as a York taylor (tailor), nothing else is known about him. On the face of it, McMullen may have simply been a squatter, who made nominal improvements to the land to receive quasi-title to it, and then abandoned it and moved on. He also could have been a speculator looking to buy land at a major discount. And another possibility is that Duncan McMullen was a fictitious name - a sort of straw man - employed by a speculator to deceitfully purchase the land. Since individuals under the Applications system could apply to purchase no more than

(2) 300 acres, unscrupulous persons often employed pseudonyms to circumvent this restriction. The Pennsylvania frontier was fertile ground for disreputable individuals. Along with other holdings, the next person to gain ownership of the tract of land where upon the barn would be built was William Godfrey. The report covers very interesting information on him and his family. For instance: Godfrey served as a vestryman and a warden for Christ Episcopal Church. During the American Revolution, Godfrey, a devout Anglican, refused to take the oath swearing allegiance to Pennsylvania and renouncing the King of England. As a result, he was designated a non-juror on county tax assessments, and was required to pay double the amount of tax that he would have normally paid. Also, in 1777, the minister of Christ Church and several of the congregation were charged with conspiring to blow up patriot arsenals. Although Godfrey was not mentioned as a participant in the plot, during the incident he was warden of the Church and undoubtedly was cognizant of it. He was in fact a Tory, however in 1789 he was elected a representative to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Now we come to Abraham Burkholder (1772-1846). His grandfather, a Swiss-German Mennonite migrated to America seeking refuge from religious persecution. After settling in Lancaster County, PA he moved to the west shore of the Susquehanna River and in 1762 he and his brother established a ferry, Burkholders Ferry, across that river. About 1794 Abraham married Hannah Latshaw and they had 9 children: Anna, Joseph, John, Samuel, Mary, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Abraham Jr., and Rebecca. In the 1796-97 Huntington Township assessment he was still landless, but was then taxed for two cows, (indicating he was married) as well as for his occupation as a nailer. A nailer was a blacksmith who specialized in forging nails. In Abraham Burkholders time, the late eighteenth century, nails were still forged by hand. Many farmers during the preindustrial era practiced a trade to supplement their household income. He had brothers who were tradesmen. His brother John was a blacksmith, and his brother David was a potter. John and David, however, never owned any appreciable amount of land, and their trades appear to have been their primary source of income. After Abraham acquired his own land, farming became his livelihood for the rest of his life. About 1797-98, Abraham was approximately 25 and Hannah was about 22 with 2 or 3 children when he moved his family to an estimated 100 acres of land in Monaghan Township that he had acquired from neighbor William Godfrey. This land had been relatively distant from Godfreys farmstead and there is no evidence to suggest that it had been previously improved or resided on. The land may have been used as open pasture for livestock and as a source of timber. This was the first property that young Abraham and Hannah Burkholder owned, and they probably developed their farm on it from scratch. Unfortunately, no deed for Burkholders land purchase from Godfrey was recorded. The 1798 U.S. Direct Tax provides the earliest documentation for Burkholders new farm and, more importantly, for his barn. The Direct Tax levied a tax on dwellings and lands possessed by an individual as of October 1, 1798. It was also known as the Window or Glass Tax because it based the assessed value of a dwelling on the number and size of its windows. According to the Direct Tax list, Burkholders taxable property consisted of his primary dwelling - a one story log house that measured 22 feet by 25 feet, valued at $200; 100 acres of land and a log barn that measured 20 feet by 34 feet, the land and barn having a combined value of $540; and a second dwelling house or outhouse, valued at $20. The total value of Burkholders taxable property was $760. The Monaghan Township Tax Assessment for 1800, a rare early township tax record that enumerated buildings, provides additional clues about Burkholders barn by listing it as a log double barn. Barns in the 1800 assessment were categorized as either a double barn or a bank barn. In the nomenclature of the period, a double barn, also referred to as a double-crib barn, was a three bay, single level barn with two separate log cribs joined by a central runway, with all under a common gable roof. They were also known as ground barns, or grundscheiers, since the single floor of a double barn was at or slightly above ground level. The Burkholder Barn does share some features with a standard Pennsylvania bank barn, such as an eaved forebay and basement stables, however, its distinguishing element is a sunken threshing floor that is located about midway between the ground stable level and the mow level. The Barns sunken threshing floor precludes it from having the full basement level and the two full stories that is typical of a bank barn. As a result, authorities on early Pennsylvania barns have classified the Burkholder Barn as a ground barn, although a rare variant. The Barns lack of a full basement level was probably also why the assessor in 1798 for the Federal Direct Tax did not classify the Barn as a bank barn, and why the assessor in 1800 for the York County Tax Assessment classified it as a double barn. When selecting the site for his new farmstead, Abraham factored the topography, proximity to roads, pasture, croplands, water, weather and compass direction. He located his farmstead at what is today the intersection of South Mountain Road and Bethel Church Road. It was about one-quarter of a mile north of the intersection of South

(3) Mountain Road and County Line Road where William Godfrey had his farmstead. County Line Road was Burkholders lifeline with the outside world, and provided access to markets for his products, as well as to a source of goods needed by his household but not produced on his farm. The farmstead sits on the side of a hill that slopes downward in a generally southeastern direction. The front of the house faces south and the front or forebay side of the barn faces southeast. The Barns southeast exposure allowed the sun to warm the stables and barnyard, while the hill rising up behind the Barn to the northwest screened it from brisk winter winds. The rear of the barn, banked slightly into the hill and located just a few feet from South Mountain Road, facilitated ramp access to the threshing floor. Based on the lay of the land, it appears that Burkholders better cropland would have been on higher ground to the north of his barn, and this would have made it an easier task to drive a wagon heavily loaded with harvest from the fields downhill to the barn. In 1799 Burkholder paid the county tax for the first time as a property owner in Monaghan Township. His holdings consisted of 100 acres of land valued at $3 an acre, two horses at $25 apiece, and two cows at $6 each. The total valuation of his taxable property was $362, for which he paid a tax of $1.81. Abraham Burkholder was involved in local civic affairs. In 1809, he served as Supervisor of Highways for Monaghan Township. Also, in 1834, Burkholder represented Franklin Township at a convention that met in York to decide whether York County should accept Pennsylvanias Free Public School Act. Voicing the conservative views of his many ethnic German neighbors who perceived the School Act as a threat to their cultural identity and independence, Burkholder voted against it. The opportunity in 1814 for Abraham Burkholder to purchase an adjacent 75 acre parcel of land came at a propitious time. Abraham and Hanna had been married some twenty years and were both middle-aged. Their family had swelled in size to include five daughters and four sons, and a tenth child - another daughter Rebecca would soon be born. Three of their sons were already old enough to do the work of a man. Abraham Burkholders original 100 acres may have sufficed when he was starting out and had a small family, but by 1814 his large household had outgrown it. In 1830, Abraham Burkholder Sr. still had eight individuals living in his household including himself and his wife; three other males, probably sons Abraham Jr., Samuel and John; and three other females, probably daughters Rebecca; Elizabeth; and Anna. During the 1830s, however, the Burkholder household shrank considerably in size due to deaths in the family and to the departure of children who had married. About 1830, son Samuel married and moved to Adams County. In 1831, John, Abrahams second oldest son, who had had been in poor health for several years, died at age 32. The following year, Hannah, Abrahams wife for some forty years, died at age 57. And in 1835, Abrahams oldest child, Anna, who had remained single and had continued to live in his household, died at age 39. Abraham constructed a second farmstead on his property probably about 1831 when Joseph and his family returned to live on the property. In 1832, Joseph owned three horses and two cows, and Abraham had four horses and three cows. By 1835, their respective stock had grown to a combined total of eight horses and eleven cows. The large sizes of Abrahams and Josephs livestock herds strongly suggest that by 1832 each of them managed a separate farming operation with its own barn. About 1839, Abraham Burkholder Sr. sold seventy-five acres of land that included his original farmstead with the Burkholder Barn to John Hollinger. Perhaps his age and the shrinking size of his family, particular the departure of Joseph, contributed to Abrahams decision to downsize and sell off part of his property. After Joseph left, Abraham Sr., then in his late sixties, had left on the farm with him only his daughter Rebecca, and his son Abraham Jr. and his wife and two young daughters. They would have been stretched trying to work a farm of 175 acres. After the sale of his property with the original farmstead, Abraham Burkholder Sr. and Abraham Jr. both lived on the second farmstead but were heads of separate households. Abraham Sr. lived with his youngest daughter Rebecca who was still single. Abraham Burkholder Jr. lived in separate quarters with his wife and daughters, and probably handled the bulk of the farm work. One of the households resided in the farmhouse and the other probably in the detached summer kitchen. We do not know who lived where, but it would have seemed more practical for Abraham Sr. and Rebecca to have resided in the smaller, yet ample, summer kitchen, while Abraham Jr.s family of five would have occupied the more commodious farmhouse. Abraham Burkholder died February 8, 1846, at age 73. He is buried with his wife and many other family members in Lobach Cemetery, a small neighborhood cemetery in Latimore Township, Adams County. Although the Cemetery is not affiliated with any particular church, all of the families buried there were of German descent and were German Baptists, Mennonites, and Lutherans.

(4) An examination of his personal estate inventory and the sale list, therefore, is extremely valuable as they reveal the kinds of artifacts that Burkholder used in his farming operation and that would have been found in and around the Burkholder Barn. Typical of farmers during the preindustrial era, Abraham Burkholder practiced semi-subsistent agriculture and was relatively self-sufficient, and the wide variety of tools and equipment itemized in his estate inventory and sales list reflect this. They include agricultural equipment, such as a winnowing mill; various woodworking tools ranging from a broad axe to adze, and everything else required to build a log structure; farriers tools; leatherworking tools for making and repairing shoes and harnesses; and blacksmithing tools, including an anvil, bellows, hammers and tongs, vice, and Abrahams nail anvil. Horse-drawn vehicles that Abraham would have stored in his Barn number a Broad Wheel Wagon, a Dearborn carriage, and a sleigh. Items that would have been found in his stables, besides livestock, include bridles, harnesses, horse collars, spreaders, singletrees, and cow chains. Burkholders estate inventory and the sales list would be valuable references for NYCHAPS when developing a furnishings plan for the restored Burkholder Barn. A copy of the sales list is provided in the report.

Since our main interest for the Chronicle is in Abraham Burkholder and his Barn, we want to encourage members to seek out the original report where so much more information is provided. Mr. Zwierzyna gifted us with his copious research materials.* * The text in this article is primarily quoted from Mr. Zwierzynas report.

The Tavern Committee: Larry Klase-Chairman, Joanne Klase, Connie Trostle, and Greg Wonders, Bob Eichelberger, Herb Bomberger Web Site E-Mail Address