Founder's surprise

July 10, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - When Mary Stevanus found a deed signed twice by Sharpsburg founder Joseph Chapline on eBay in April, she thought it was a fabulous find.

"It's just thrilling to have something connected to Chapline like that," said Stevanus, the Publicity Committee chairwoman for the Sharpsburg Historical Society.

During Friday's fourth annual Sharpes Burgh Founder's Day celebration, Stevanus officially unveiled the document the society bought from a rare paper dealer for $217, thanks to members' donations.


Event Chairwoman Jennifer Silbert said the deed probably came as a surprise to many of the people attending the event at Mountain View Cemetery along Md. 34.

Stevanus and society members then got a surprise of their own when Roy and Helen May of Lappans Road showed Stevanus a land grant that provided Chapline 1,000 acres.

Roy May, 72, said he found the document, folded in an envelope, 10 to 15 years ago when he was gutting the staircase in a rental property he owns at 46 S. Main St. in Boonsboro.

Society members and some of Chapline's descendants eagerly were reviewing the document May had framed, trying to determine exactly what it meant.

The document appears to transfer 1,000 acres on property called Foxwell, near Mancan, from Tobias Stansbury to Chapline in 1752. No one in the group huddled around the document knew where Mancan is.

The document was signed by Horatio Sharpe, the colonial governor of Maryland. Sharpsburg is named for Sharpe, who was a friend of Chapline's.

When asked what he thought of the document when he found it, May said, "I don't know, but I knew it had to be old. This has got to be something interesting."

The original log house in which the land grant was found was built in 1850, May said.

May said the couple meant to bring the land grant to last year's Founder's Day celebration, but got tied up with something else.

May said the document will remain in the family. He allowed a society member to take a picture of it.

Stevanus said that picture and pictures of other historical documents, such as the deed the society obtained, eventually will be posted on

The society's deed can be seen today at Town Hall, where the group will have a historical display, she said.

The March 5, 1768, deed conveys lot 12 at the corner of Mechanic Street and West Antietam from Chapline to William Good for 12 pounds and an annual rent of 3 shillings, sixpence, Stevanus said. At that time, the land was part of Frederick County, Md., Stevanus said.

Stevanus said she thought May's land grant dates back to before Sharpsburg was laid out, but she needed to check the dates.

"It's just thrilling," she said of May's find.

"We know people have stuff like that, probably in their houses," Stevanus said.

The historical society would like to get copies or pictures of such documents so they can share the historical information with others, she said.

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