88 – The Maples on Oswald Lane, circa 1791, east of Hagerstown, MD

Oswald Lane presses east from Whitehall Road into fields behind the Chewsville Community Center. After nearly half a mile, this private road makes a right angle turn and dips to a complex of farm buildings, an island of history. This is one of the few farms in the county that still belongs to a descendant of its original land grant holder.

Nicholas Bard [sic] …seized in fee… 164 acres, parts of tracts called The Resurvey on George’s Mistake, George’s Venture, and The Barrens that had been granted to George French in 1755. Several years later, Bard applied to the agent for management of land affairs within the province to resurvey his parcel and add some vacant land that he had found adjacent to his. The resurvey indicated that Bard’s original tract contained no more than 148 acres, so he requested that sixteen acres be subtracted from the 1,225 acres of vacant land he was petitioning to add to his holdings. For this land, now named Scared From Home, he paid the sum of £60.9 sterling. The patent, dated 1761, grants Bard …all the Rights profits Benefits and privileges thereunto belong, Royal Mines Excepted… and goes on to require …paying therefore Yearly unto us and our heirs at our Receipt at our City of Saint Mary’s at the two most usual feasts in the year Vis The feast of the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Michael the arch angel by even and equal portions of the Rent of Two pounds fourteen Shillings and Eleven pence half penny Sterling in Silver or Gold. The patent was: Witness by our Trusty and well beloved Horatio Sharpe Esquire Secular and General and Chief Governor of our said Province of Maryland and Chancellor and keeper of the Great Seal thereof. (Early documents were often careless about spelling. Bard was usually spelled Beard, and successive generations of the family used this spelling.)

The main block of the house on Scared From Home was built by Philip Beard, Nicholas’s son, and it carries a 1791 date stone in one gable. Built of coursed fieldstone, it is five bays wide and faces southeast. The main entrance is in the central bay. Windows have wide frames with six-over-six sashes. The ell at the back of the main block of the house has a double porch on the northeast side and was probably a mid 19th century addition to the home.

Ludwick Huyett settled land near Beard’s property, and he too collected a series of parcels which were combined into a single tract and patented as Huyett’s Meadows in 1805. Seven years later, Ludwick’s son Daniel purchased the northern half of his father’s property; and, in 1825, Daniel paid $1,500 for the farm that Nicholas Bard had patented. The present owner of the Maples, Huyette Beck Oswald, is descended from both Huyett and Beard. He inherited the property from his father Edward Ingram Oswald who, with his brother Paul, had received it from their mother Elizabeth Ingram Oswald. The Oswald brothers were partners for many years and ran The Maples Fruit Farm on the family land, where many acres had been planted in fruit trees. A large wooden addition was applied to the ell in order to house farm workers, and a series of dependent structures were built to serve the fruit farm as well.

About 1920, Paul sold his interest to Edward, better known as Ingram; and, in 1951, Huyette Oswald received the property from his mother Anna Oswald. For 30 years, Huyette Oswald and his family lived and worked in Florida but would return each summer to make repairs and to oversee the farm. In 1949, a general renovation was undertaken, and the wooden additions at the rear of the house were removed. Over the years, the dependencies were no longer needed and were also removed.

The main entrance of the home opens into a central hall. To the left is the living room with a simple, original mantel decorating a rebuilt firebox. This fireplace is no longer operable because the furnace now uses that flue. To the right of the hall is the dining room, which has had the wall between it and the small room at the rear removed. The wainscot beneath the chair rail is old wood paneling that is believed to have been taken from another building and reused here. Both door and window jambs have original paneling. The stairway in the central hall has a low handrail and simple square balusters. It rises to a landing that is joined by three short flights that lead to the front, the back and the left side of the second floor. The two bedrooms in the main block of the house have original mantels and random-width pine floors.

The attic still holds a large, metal-lined water tank that provided gravity fed water to the rest of the house. This water was pumped from two cisterns on either side of the house. In the basement, the original close-set log joists, flattened top and bottom, can still be seen. The kitchen in the ell has a large, arched fireplace that recently has been refaced with stone. Originally, there were two rooms above. This space is now a single ample bedroom.

 In 1977, Huyette’s son David, drawn by his Washington County heritage and a professional opportunity, moved from Florida to the home that had been in his family for so many generations. David Huyette Oswald, a certified public accountant and partner in Smith Elliott Kerns & Company, together with his wife Cheryl, acquired the residential property from his parents and began a lifetime project. Since 1977, they have extensively renovated their home. They have repointed the stone walls, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms and added a three-car garage, swimming pool and stables for their three Tennessee Walking Horses. Their proudest accomplishments, however, are raising daughter Michele and son Sean.

The house has undergone numerous changes since it was built. Inside the main entrance, engaged columns stand on either side of the door. When these columns were removed for repair during a recent renovation, a brief history was found penciled within. The left post listed a series of names and the date 1890 followed by …E(dward) Ingram & D P(aul) Oswald great-grandsons of Daniel Huyett and His wife Mary Swope of Harristown, Pa. Erected to the memory of their sainted friends & grandparents who owned and built this property 100 years ago. May 27,1890. This house was built in 1791 by Philip Beard and was rebuilt by Jon Beard his son. Erected by Edward Ingram Oswald to the memory of his grandparents Edward & Martha Ingram. This post from the Old Church at Cavetown, Md. Built in the year 1827 and re-built in the year 1890. Erected in memory of E. Ingram Oswald’s grandparents Edward Ingram & Martha A. Huyett, his wife, and D. Oswald and his wife Susan Beard. House was remodeled extensively by D E, E I, & D P Oswald 1907-1912. 4 Outside front pillars installed, 32 volt electricity, central hot water heat & bathroom. Penciled inside the other post are similar statements by David Paul Oswald, who adds that Jon Beard’s remodeling occurred in 1840. It was probably Jon Beard who added the ell at the back.

The home is wonderfully comfortable, filled with family heirlooms and family memories. David and Cheryl live with their history, while Huyette and his wife Kay have a summer home on the farm and maintain residency in Florida. And the Maples Fruit Farm lives on as the name of the gourmet store owned by David’s sister Patricia (Trish) and her husband Edward Knight.

Epilogue: Cheryl and David continue with the upkeep and maintenance chores while enjoying the Maples. Huyette died February of 1998 and Kathryn died in January of 1999. Patricia and Eddie now own the house where Kay and Huyette lived. Trish and Eddie will be teaching in Kotzebue, Alaska, from August to May for the next three to five years. They sold the store in July 2001. 

This article appeared in the Herald-Mail Sunday, February 2, 1997 as the 88th in the series.BookBanner