25 – Flint’s Chance, circa 1760, Hancock, MD.
West of Hancock on Route 144, a roadside marker proclaims, OLD MR. FLINT’S HOME, with an arrow pointing to the north and a paragraph explaining, George Washington’s diary (while he visited Berkeley Springs in 1789) states: “Aug. 30 Old Mr. Flint dined with us.” And on Sept. 4: “Rid to the Potomac where my horses were from thence to Mr. Flint’s and to the Pennsylvania line, and returned to dinner.”
Beyond the arrow down a slope, partially hidden by trees, lies a white stucco house with a multi-arched porch and a standing-seam metal roof. The land on which this house stands was originally surveyed for Joseph Flint on November 12, 1762. The 1783 patent contained 258 acres called Resurvey on Flint’s Chance. Flint was an Indian trader who must have met Washington on one of Washington’s many journeys through western Maryland. Little else is known about him.
The eastern section of this house is the log cabin that once was Joseph Flint’s home. During some recent work, it was discovered that this had been a two-story log structure with a single-story kitchen attached. The huge cooking fireplace still stands, but this room has now become the front hall. During an earlier renovation, a fireback, dated 1762, was found in this fireplace.
The main section of the log house had a single large room on the first floor. This main room remains intact and still has one of its original batten doors hung on long strap hinges. The opposite door, leading to the back yard, has been replaced with a modern one. This room is quite large with exposed beams and a chair rail. The fireplace, although changed from its original configuration, stands in its original position at the end of the room, adjoining what was once the kitchen, and sharing the central chimney column with the cooking fireplace.
Wings have been added to the side and to the rear of the original log house, and a complete second story has been built over the whole house.
In 1886, E. P. Cohill used goats to clear the mountainside, then planted 40 acres of York Imperial apples. This was one of the first commercial orchards in western Maryland. He later extended his plantings and in 1900 organized the Tonoloway Orchard Company in partnership with his father-in-law Samuel Rinehart, a leading merchant and manufacturer in Hancock. E. P. Cohill had four sons. Andrew and Leo helped him in the apple orchards. When the orchards were sold in 1919, Andrew Cohill and his family moved to Flint’s Chance, which had been a rental property purchased years earlier by his grandfather Samuel Rinehart.
Andrew’s wife Helen Morgan Cohill made many improvements in the building. She had the house insulated for winter; and since the log and front sections of the house did not seem to have any continuity, she added the wide, arched porch and had the entire building stuccoed. Under the porch, she placed a garage that was accessible from either side, and was large enough for two cars parked end to end. Inside the garage under the log wing is the door to the cellar, which was once used to store fruits and vegetable in the winter.
The Cohills raised ten children, and the house was expanded and altered to fit the needs of this large family. In front of the house, nestled into a gentle rise, is a low stone springhouse. The springhouse floor is several steps below grade. Water was directed around the edges of the building to cool crocks of milk that were kept there. This water exits on the east side of the building and flows into a pond built by the Cohills. Around the house and pond are large boxwoods that Mrs. Cohill planted and cherished.
Coy fish swim in the pond, new residents of this old homestead, growing and prospering among historic surroundings. Soon, Flint’s Chance will be restored and will be the home of yet another generation of Cohills and a continuing thread of Hancock history.
This article appeared in the Herald-Mail Sunday, July 7, 1991 as the 25th in the series of articles by Patricia Schooley about the historical homes of Washington County.