Jones Farmstead has remained family-owned since 1945

This is the 185th in a series of articles about the historical and architectural treasures of Washington County.

February 11, 2011|By PAT SCHOOLEY | Special to The Herald-Mail

Between Elk Ridge and South Mountain, a small, unincorporated community called Yarrowsburg formed around the intersection of Reed, Kaetzel and Yarrowsburg Roads.

Yarrowsburg is named after a highly regarded 19th-century black midwife, Polly Yarrow, who lived nearby. It is the sole area in Washington County named for a black person, according to historian John Frye.

The 118-acre Jones farm lies on the west side of Md. 67, at the east end of Yarrowsburg Road. The farmstead stands well back from Md. 67 and lies on both sides of Yarrowsburg Road.

On the north is a tidy collection of farm structures: a bank barn, dairy barn, springhouse and silo.

On the south stands a substantial brick house with a two-bay brick garage and a garden shed set among a copse of trees and well-trimmed shrubs. Israel Creek winds through the farm to the west, and the B&O Railroad runs along its western edge.

Once, Augusta Station (previously known as Barthelow Station) was there as well, providing local access to rail service.

The earlier part of the house appears to have been a small two-room brick block with a tight winder stairs to two rooms above. Wide oak boards floor these rooms, and the simple molded woodwork with mitered corners finish them. The upstairs ceiling is low.

When the new block of the house was added, the first floor was made level with that of the original house, but its ceilings were higher. The second floors were joined through a door off the new central hall landing. One step down from the new wing led into the older section.

An 1861 mortgage describes 1857 articles of agreement in which Richard Grim sold Michael Barthelow a tract of land containing parts of land patents "King Cole," "Grims Delight" and "Keep Trieste," holding a bit more than 250 acres of land.

Four years later, Barthelow signed a mortgage for $4,000, the money remaining to be paid for this purchase. In 1868, Augustus Young gave a mortgage to Barthelow for $2,300 on the farm in Pleasant Valley for a similar amount of land.

When he did not receive payment, Young initiated Equity Case 2938. The case was finally settled in 1878 when Young gained title to the farm, now 147.5 acres, by bidding for it at the trustee's auction after all other bids for the farm were too low.

The main house appears to date from 1850 to 1860, and it is likely that Barthelow built the handsome east wing — for new owners often make improvements soon after purchase. That would suggest that the Grim family built the original small house. Because Richard Grim's name first appeared in Washington County land records in the above mentioned 1861 mortgage, it seems likely that he inherited his land, part of one of these early patents, rather than having a deed to it.  

When Augustus Young died, his will left all his estate to his wife, Laura, stating that, if she did not dispose of the farm during her lifetime, it was to pass to their son, Joseph, daughters Mary Young and Augusta Gray and granddaughter Augusta Young as equal owners. Laura Young kept the property, and, in 1915, Augusta Young purchased the farm from the other heirs. It was her heirs who sold the farm to the Joneses in 1945.

The main façade faces east, with five bays, six-over-six windows under wide wooden lintels and a central entrance. Brickwork is common bond, five stretcher rows to one header, on all facades. A one-story porch protects the lower openings in the front. Square, molded posts with brackets hold its roof. The door enters a central hall with stairs on the left. The balusters are square, the handrail simple.

A single large room flanks the hall on either side, each with a fireplace and simply molded mantelpiece. The parlor on the south has windows on three sides. The north room opens at the rear into the dining room, part of the earlier section of the house, and leads into the kitchen at the back of this structure. This original section was expanded to the south on both floors, and a double porch was built along the south wall between the newer front block of the house and the kitchen. Upstairs, the new wing had two large bedrooms with fireplaces. The north room has now been divided to provide an ample bath.

An icehouse, slave house and large brick bake oven on stone foundations that once stood near the house are now represented by depressions in the yard. A large cypress wood vat stood in the attic, supplied with water by a pipe that ran under the road and was pumped full by a gasoline engine at the spring. This provided running water inside the house. The vat was salvaged for its wood.

Cecelia was Thomas Tritapoe's eldest daughter, one of 10 children. When she married Clyde Jones, Clyde went to work farming for her father, and the couple lived with him on his 103-acre farm on Md. 67 north of Yarrowsburg Road.

Cecilia loved music and beautiful things, a love she passed on to her daughter, Regina. When Regina was 9, a fire devastated the Tritapoe house. Only two reverse paintings and Cecelia's prized player piano, for which she had paid the exorbitant sum of $600, were salvaged. All the other family treasures and antiques were gone.

The house was rebuilt in concrete block, and the family returned to the steady rhythms of farm life. As her father aged, Cecelia thought of the time when he would die and when her nine siblings would want their rightful share of his estate. She suggested to her husband that they buy their own house. She particularly liked the brick house on Yarrowsburg Road. It was a pretty house and had been rented for many years by owners who lived in Washington, D.C.

Cecelia's Sunday School teacher at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Florence Gray, was related to these owners, and Cecelia asked if she thought they might want to sell. Florence gave Cecelia their address and told her to write and ask. After some thought, the owners agreed, and the Joneses purchased the farm in 1945 from Augusta Gray's heirs.

The Joneses continued to rent out the Gray farm and to live with grandfather Tritipoe. When he died in 1954, Regina had just taken a job as a teacher, and she offered to help her father purchase that farm from the rest of the Tritapoe family. And so the Joneses stayed on in the concrete block house. Finally, Cecelia said to Regina that she would really like to live in that brick house before she died, and Regina responded, "Well, then, we should fix it up and move into it."

After so many years as a rental, the house needed major work. The roof was replaced, all the floors sanded and varnished, plaster walls and ceilings repaired and painted and all four fireplaces restored. A few badly damaged doors were replaced with new wooden ones made to match the old. New wiring, two new bathrooms and a new heating system were installed. A new two-bay brick garage was built with Cushwa brick chosen to match that of the house. It took two years, from 1969 to 1971, to complete the work. Regina's father repaired the bank barn across the road and had a new roof and spouting installed. When he plowed the fields, he found Civil War bullets, testament to actions that had taken place there.

Clyde Jones died at 85 in 1979 and Cecelia six years later when she was 92. She had had 14 years to live in the beautiful brick house and to play the player piano that had been refitted with an electric motor. Regina continues to care for the farm. Everything is tidy and properly painted. Good stewardship preserves the home her family has loved for more than 60 years.

Terms to know

  • Reverse painting: an art form in which pictures are painted on glass, then viewed through the glass, thus requiring the artist to paint the surface colors and figures first and the background last.
  • Six-over-six: windows with six panes of glass in each sash.
  • Lintel: a horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a window or door.
  • Bay: a space along a façade of a building defined by an opening, such as a window or door.
  • Bond: brick pattern made of varying arrangements. These patterns keep the brick walls from separating.
  • Header: a brick laid with its small end toward the face of the wall.
  • Stretcher: a brick laid with its long side toward the face of the wall.
  • Winder: a stair step with a tread that is wider at one end than the other, used when steps are carried around curves.

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