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Frank Artz' farm is stage for re-enactment

September 09, 1997


Staff Writer

He may walk with the aid of a cane, but that hasn't stopped Frank "Buck" Artz from helping to dig a water line and clear acres of overgrown brush.

For the past few weeks, Artz, 70, has been right there beside organizers of the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam, preparing to turn his 612-acre farm into a tent city this week.

"He has just been working like a dog," said his wife, Sally.

Reminiscent of the days when he farmed the land, Artz is busy from sunup to sundown.

Ask him how his farm wound up to be the site of the large gathering of more than 12,000 re-enactors and up to 50,000 spectators and he'll say with a smile, "We opened our mouth too quick."


In reality, the idea appealed to Artz, who loves history and will be displaying part of his large collection of antiques.

Members of the Artz family, including brother Larry, were asked more than a year ago by Washington County Commissioner John S. Shank if they would be willing to host a re-enactment.

"He didn't say how big it was going to be," Sally Artz said.

As it turns out, organizers are preparing for a lot more people than the Artzes ever imagined on the farm south of Hagerstown off Md. 65.

"In a way, I hope it soon gets over and then it won't get any bigger," Frank Artz said.

Ever since he agreed to the use of his land, Artz has visited other re-enactments in Boonsboro and Gettysburg, neither of which will be as large as this one.

"I guess I got hooked, then," he said.

The Artzes have become fast friends with Don Warlick, the re-enactment site coordinator.

Frank Artz calls Warlick "son," and the two wear matching black baseball hats that say, "School of the Cavalry."

Warlick, 53, has high praise for the Artz family.

"If it hadn't been for the Artzes this wouldn't be happening," he said.

Preparing the land mostly involved a lot of mowing. Artz used his tractor and a mowing deck to clear his own land as well as some belonging to Allegheny Power.

Some of the thistle patches he found were as big as his tractor, he said.

Artz also has helped put in about a mile of temporary one-inch water line from two hydrants on Rench Road to the Confederate and Union encampments.

The small crew, which Warlick jokes has an average age of 68, also set the stage for the battles by building period fences and digging post holes for a banner at the entrance.

Meanwhile, Sally Artz, 66, has been busy cooking for five or more at lunch and supper every day.

Generals have sat around her large kitchen table, she said.

She never knows how many people will be there for a meal or when they'll be ready to eat.

"I don't get (the food) out until I see the whites of their eyes," she said.

Things around her house have become so chaotic that she's had trouble finding the time to clean the upstairs rooms in her 1750 farm house, which is going to be filled with relatives this weekend.

The couple has four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

They have lived in the house since they got married 47 years ago.

Frank Artz stopped farming about four years ago, but he still rents some land for pasture and crops.

The event organizers have agreed to pay him $21,000 for the lost revenue.

So far, all he has seen are bills. He bought the water pipe when the wrong kind was delivered.

Still, he is happy to be involved, he said. And he isn't worried about how well the event will come together.

"I don't worry about anything I can't do anything about," he said.

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