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Ancestors again laid to rest

September 12, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Family members of Benjamin Wachtel once lived and died at home above Conococheague Creek in Clear Spring.

For Wachtel, who died in 1855, and the other inhabitants of Little Friendship farm, traveling to St. Paul's Church would have been a difficult undertaking, said Barbara Clopper, whose husband's roots in Clear Spring date to the 18th century.

Like their ancestors, descendants of the Wachtel family have remained close to home. On Sunday, they marked the end of a journey of three years, as they dedicated a new final resting place for their forefathers at St. Paul's Cemetery.

"The remains of the Wachtel, Stine, Troup, Bovey and Kershner families are buried here, the others are known only to God," C. Kenneth Clopper said as he read from an inscription on a marker near the graves of 84 of his descendants.

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About 50 people gathered at the cemetery to again bury the remains of descendants. The graves were moved to St. Paul from the area where Little Friendship farm once operated to make way for a county landfill, C. Kenneth Clopper said.

"I now have four generations of ancestors interred in the same location, and someday, so will I," C. Kenneth Clopper said.

Clopper is the great-great-great-grandson of John Wachtel, a Revolutionary War veteran who bought the land for Little Friendship farm in 1797.

The family continued to live on the property until it was sold in 1916, Clopper said.

Clopper said in remarks during the interment that the Hopkins Institute once reported the site was historically insignificant.

"My great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War and was wounded, and don't call him historically insignificant," Clopper said.

The family began lobbying to re-inter the graves about three years ago, he said.

"Getting this done, it's been a labor of love, that's for sure," Barbara Clopper said.

Cousins Warren Kriner of Clear Spring and Charles Miller said it was important the family pays honor to the graves.

"It was very important to me because it would have been very important to my mother and to his mother," Miller said as he gestured toward Kriner.

Miller said his mother was born on the farm in 1902.

Archaeologists from Frederick, Md.-based R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates Inc. released in May results from their excavation of the remains. Thirty-three of the bodies were infants, according to the report.

The people who were buried at Little Friendship Farm led physically demanding lives and suffered the common diseases of the time, including tuberculosis.

According to the tombstone marking one grave, Benjamin H. Wachtel died Oct. 11, 1855, at age 26.

Only about 12 people could be identified in the analysis, C. Kenneth Clopper said. Their graves are marked by headstones or footstones, most just rugged rocks worn smooth by the passage of time.

Weathering has claimed the words from the oldest markers, but crude knife-carved lettering remains on some. "OCT. 13th 1825," reads the date of one marker.

Miller, 77, who lives in Hagerstown, said most of the family remains in the area.

"St. Paul Cemetery, now that all of them are buried out there, our whole family is buried out there," he said.

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