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Waltz across Chewsville

Farm with roots to 1774 remains in the same family

June 05, 2010|By PAT SCHOOLEY
  • A windmill turns above a stone and frame structure that protects its hand-dug well.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

This is the 181st in a series of articles about the historical and architectural treasures of Washington County.




CHEWSVILLE - Waltz Road tees into Twin Springs Drive (Chewsville's main street) just west of its intersection with Md. 64. Its single lane heads north, cluttered with small houses, outbuildings, vehicles and a warning that there is no outlet.

Abruptly it crosses a railroad and turns right to follow along beside the track. Eventually easing away, it arrives at a sign held in brick posts topped with tulip-shaped finials that announces: Waltz Farm Est. 1774. The road, which once extended to Smithsburg, then becomes a gravel drive and curves into a broad meadow. A third of a mile further, a farmstead, scattered about the low hills on both sides of the lane, comes into view. On the left, a windmill turns above a stone and frame structure that protects its hand-dug well.

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The Waltz Farm will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 12, as part of a garden tour to support the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum. Waltz Farm is one of five gardens on the tour, which costs $10 a person.

Waltz Farm's beginning

It was Martin Waltz who bought 100 acres of a land grant called Gleanings from Samuel Chase and Thomas Johnson Jr. in 1774. And it was Martin who built a log house on the north side of the road, up the hill from that well.

At one time pipes (possibly hollowed logs) connected this well with a cistern near the house so that water could be pumped to the house by the wind, providing indoor plumbing. The log house is gone; only foundation walls remain of this settlement house.

Martin died in 1777 at the age of 61. His wife, Ann Mary, was designated executrix of his will, which provided for their four children, two sons and two daughters. Their son, Jacob, was only 6 at the time. Jacob would inherit the farm. Jacob's eldest son, John, one of seven children, was born in 1807 and inherited the farm, now 135.5 acres. He became wealthy and fathered 11 children. He died in 1875, three years after the Western Maryland Railroad came through the property.

The farm today

John Jacob Waltz Jr., Martin Waltz's great-great-great-great-grandson, owns and operates Waltz Farm, now 153 acres, with his wife, Sally, and their son, Jacob, who lives nearby with his wife, Laurie, and their daughter, Sarah.

The farmstead has two hog barns that house 1,200 hogs, two barns that house 300 sheep, a hay barn, a machine shed, an old stable, the original frame wash house and a two-story brick home built about half-way up the hill across the lane from the foundations of the settlement house. Probably built between 1840 and 1850, it has three bays with a central door sheltered by double porches. The ground-level porch has been extended into an inviting patio.

The house originally had two rooms downstairs, each with fireplaces, and a hall and a bedroom upstairs. Double porches protect the east faade of the house with a tight winder stairs rising inside the main door on the left. Several of the doors in this section are grained and have two sets of three long rectangular panels, one above the other.

A two-story wing with a single room on each floor extends to the west. This may have originally been a separate out kitchen that was later connected to the house. The service fireplace in this room has a metal lug bar across its throat to carry trammels that would hold pots above the fire. At one time, this room had two doors, side by side, in the north wall and a north-south wall between them. One of the doors has been changed to a window and the wall removed. A closed winder stairs to the room above rises in the southwest corner of the room.

The house is surrounded by a black-painted three-board fence enclosing about an acre and a half of land on the hilly slope that backs up to the train track. This area is decorated with ornamental bushes, vines on trellises, decorative birdhouses and a collection of small buildings beautifully set among small gardens. A potting shed in the Williamsburg style stands near the German four-square garden and the cottage garden, which is planted with annual and perennial flowers.

A drying house filled with flowers and herbs being prepared for future use stands near a wooden outhouse that is now used as a garden shed. A new weaving house, furnished with two looms, rests atop the hill near the herb garden and the butterfly garden.

Tucked behind a gate between tall bushes is Sarah's Secret Fairy Garden, complete with a pink, footed bathtub filled with earth and decorated with toy figures. Beyond are the foundations of the old log slave house and the meditation garden. Near the bottom of the yard stands the original smokehouse, a board and batten structure now covered with siding. This was turned into the first weaving cottage with a single loom, a spinning wheel, yarn winder and spools of thread many years ago.

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