130 – Dry Spring Farm, 1824, near Chewsville, MD

Kieffer Funk Road doglegs between Jefferson Boulevard and White Hall Road, east of Hagerstown. It runs through the margins of the city and pushes into farmland. On the east side of the road, behind a fringe of old trees and nestled among a collection of old farm buildings, is a handsome brick home resting on low stone foundations. A modern, single-story porch extends the width of the five-bay building, sheltering two entrances. Windows have nine-over-six sashes on the first floor and six-over-six sashes on the second, all under flat brick arches. Three corbeled brick chimneys pierce the roof of what was once Kieffer Funk’s home.

In 1824, the date inscribed on the stone lodged high in the south gable of the house, the road was east of the house. The house was built to face this road. This east façade of the house is laid in Flemish bond and originally had six bays, with the northern two bays indented under the main roof span behind a double porch. This porch has been enclosed with a one-bay, two-story addition to its north.

Michael Zuck patented 130 acres of land in 1802 as Peace and Plenty combining parts of earlier patents called Resurvey on Dry Spring, Resurvey on George’s Mistake, George’s Venture, Barrens Chase and Rich Barrens. This land was deeded to Jacob Zuck three years later. In 1813, H. Joseph Wolfe, Sr., (1779-1859) paid $3,900 for this parcel and purchased two other pieces of land totaling 166 acres, more or less. Joseph Wolfe was married to Elenorah Zuck, who probably was Jacob’s daughter. Wolfe and his family lived on the farm in a weather-boarded log house with a walk-in brick fireplace. This log house had a large room on the second floor that, according to family stories, was used for church services.

Once Joseph Wolfe had built the present brick home, his son Joseph M. Wolf moved to the log house. He then inherited the farm. The farm passed to his son Henry C. Wolf, then to Henry’s daughter Maud, who was married to Kieffer Funk. Their children, Louise Beachley, Elizabeth Joachim and Henry Funk, still hold the property. Henry lives in the brick house and manages the farm with his wife Mildred, the fifth generation of his family to live and work here, and the seventh to hold title to the land.

Joseph Wolfe built a sturdy and comfortable house. Clay was scooped from the earth, pressed into molds (one of which can still be seen at the farm) and burned on the property. Doors are furnished with lever action, iron box locks. Chair rail decorates most rooms, and woodwork is molded. The original kitchen was in the north part of the house behind the lower porch. It has a great cooking fireplace under a simple mantel with a firebox six-and-a-half feet wide and five feet high. Stairs enclosed with hand-planed, beaded-board walls stand in the southwest corner of the kitchen and leads to the second floor.

South of the kitchen, the living room spans the house and has exterior doors in both the east and west walls. Its fireplace has an elegant mantel with a wide shelf board, panels and colonettes. The window that once looked out onto the lower porch has become a bookshelf. Three doors, each with six raised panels, are spaced along the south wall of this room. The westernmost door opens to a staircase that winds to the second floor, and the other two doors open into the two rooms occupying the south section of the house. The east room has a small fireplace with a simple mantel. Interior brick walls span the house and extend through the second story, adding strength to the structure and providing a degree of fire safety.

Upstairs, the floor plan mirrors that of the first floor. The room above the living room, divided in two some time after the house was built, has a thimble to accommodate a stovepipe rather than a fireplace. The only other heat on this level is the small fireplace in the little bedroom in the southeast corner of the house.

A massive German kas with dovetailed joints, probably dating from the middle of the 18th century, stands in the small room at the top of the south stairs. It has two six-panel doors hung on brass hinges above a pair of drawers. This piece is so large that it would have had to have been disassembled to bring it into the room where it now stands. Unfortunately, no one in the family knows where the piece came from, or who made it. It has just always been in the house, part of the family.

The attic has pegged framing and is sheathed with wide boards. The cellar has two rooms with plastered stone walls and a wide batten door between the rooms. This cellar is under the main block of the house and is accessed by stairs under the lower porch floor and through a bulkhead on the south.

Just south of the house is a stone smokehouse. Its hip roof, topped with a finial, extends over the east wall to shelter the door. This batten door is hung on strap hinges and secured with an iron bar held in the doorframe. The log house, just to the south and east of the main house, was demolished about 1920. However, the cooking fireplace was saved, and a cinderblock house was built around it. The huge frame barn that once stood to the north of the house was burned many years ago, possibly by an arsonist. A smaller modern barn and other outbuildings have replaced it.

About 1900, the double porch was enclosed, and the two-story addition on the north was built. The kitchen moved to this area, and the original kitchen became the dining room. Water is pumped into the new kitchen from a cistern under the west porch. The windows on the west side of the house were opened to the floor but later were returned to their original size. Only the seams in the brick beneath them tell of this indecision.

At first the road that passed the farm was called Wolf Road. Sometime after Kieffer Funk took it over, a neighbor, Mr. Paulsgrove, decided to have the name changed and selected Kieffer’s. He reasoned that there were no longer any Wolfs around and that Kieffer Funk was a substantial citizen deserving of the honor. Kieffer’s wife Maud Wolf Funk never quite agreed.

When the season is wet, the spring still bubbles out of the ground on the hill where the apple orchard used to be, only to dry up as the weather changes. It was this recurring cycle that suggested the name of the original patent and the name given the farm. The rhythms of the land continue much as they have for all the years the family has owned it. Arrowheads are still found in the fields occasionally, mementos of even earlier inhabitants. The fields are still planted and harvested each year. Now a nearby farmer tills the land, for Henry is too old; and the kitchen garden just east of the house lies fallow. Henry Funk is the fifth generation of his family to live here, and he and his sisters still delight in the farm that has been in their family for almost 200 years.

This article appeared in the Herald-Mail Sunday, August 6, 2000 as the 130th in the series.