David Angle Brumbaugh
Horse Fancier, Local Postmaster, Hotelier, and
Father of a Large Brood
A child of the Revolution, David Angle Brumbaugh was born March 17, 1776, the same month his Dunker father Jacob Brumbaugh contributed a blanket for the troops when the Committee of Observation collected such contributions down by the German Reformed Church. He was the fourth of six boys and the fifth of seven children.
David, raised on Clalands Contrivance, Jacob’s family farm since 1753, was married in October 1805 when he was age 29 in the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to Anna Eve Kiessecker (daughter of neighbor Simon Kiessecker). He and Eve had twelve children, nine of whom survived to adulthood.
David interested himself early on in beautiful and elegant horses and in cattle. In March 1802 when age 26, David advertised in The Maryland Herald & Weekly Hagers-town Advertiser that he had a “noted horse” named Shepard at his stable who would “stand the ensuing season” at his stable and would “cover” (i.e., “inseminate”) mares at a rate of $4.50 per season or $7.00 for “insuring a colt” (male foal—how he guarantees a colt is unanswered, though perhaps eagerly sought). In that era, the newspaper printed advertisements by private individuals for periodic horse races over four or two miles at a nearby course, and challengers for known race winners were encouraged to come forward (surprise: there was probably betting!).
David appears in the county tax list for 1803-04 as owning three slaves and three horses. He also was appointed by Sheriff Nathaniel Rochester a constable and a road supervisor in Elizabeth Hundred in 1804-05. In 1805 at age 29, David acquired the Johann Lodewick Kammerer limestone house built 1774 on the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, which was still standing until, sadly, it was demolished April 1999. It had long stood as one of the few remaining eighteenth-century stone houses in Washington County. I
In about 1811 David began to run the post office in Hagerstown. There are weekly ads in the Hagerstown newspaper where he lists the addressees of mail not yet picked up at the post office. Over time nearly all members of his family had their names appear at the end of these ads indicating that he probably retained the concession, but passed on the duties to other family members over a long period of time.
David, like his brothers, served often as a fiduciary of decedents’ estates or trusts for the benefit of family or friends. He settled the estate of his sister-in-law, Catharine Rentch Brumbaugh (died 1820), widow of his eldest brother Jacob, Jr. who died in 1814. In 1819, Samuel Spigler and David Brumbaugh were granted letters of administration on the estate of Jacob Spigler, deceased. All of the Brumbaugh sons served as fiduciaries for family or friends, settling estates, holding the auctions, selling real estate, paying the debts and administration expenses, and under court supervision distributing the net assets to the heirs.
David first appears in the federal census in 1810 at age 34 residing in Elizabeth Hundred, Washington County, Maryland, having two children under age ten and owning four slaves. In 1820 there are two David Brumbaughs, one in Election District 3 of Washington County, Maryland, and one just over the line in Washington Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. In 1827 David, according to family tradition, moved north across the state line into Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Consistent with this claim is the fact that in 1830 David Brumbaugh and his son Elias both show up in Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania (adjacent, to the confusion of some, to both Washington County, Maryland, and Washington Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania).
On May 28, 1834, David became the first postmaster of the little village of State Line, a mile north of the old family farm in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and this postal concession was continued after his death by his son Jacob Benjamin.
The village of State Line, Pennsylvania, straddles the Mason-Dixon Line, and the part of that village which lies in Maryland calls itself Middleburg. One farmer of that area even plopped his house down so that it clearly rested in both states, all the better to run to the other side of the house when the sheriff called to enforce a lawsuit in the first state!
The eventual village seems to have coalesced, as many villages would, around an early tavern called Pawlings Tavern owned by Henry Pawling sometime in the late 1700s. The tavern became a stopping point for coaches and pack trains carrying merchandise early traders took west into Indian country to exchange for furs. While some incorrectly credit David with founding the village of State Line, those who have studied the facts more closely credit Jacob Strickler or Spigler for founding in 1812 what was once called Spiglersburg. Its origins were when Strickler laid out forty lots beginning at the Mason-Dixon road and running north on both sides of the road from Hagerstown to Greencastle, approximately at the mid-point between those towns. It was then and remains now a village, but a focal point for an active community life, and a source of pride to its residents nonetheless. Its sense of history is assured by the presence of a crown 5-mile marker placed by the Mason-Dixon survey team in 1765, one side showing the Calvert insignia for Maryland and the other the Penn family shield for Pennsylvania.
David was in business and sought relationships of all kinds in that entrepreneurial era in the new republic. David was sued in the 1820s as a partner in Barr, Barr, Springer, Malotte and Brumbaugh. What business they were in is uncertain. In 1826 David gave a testimonial, appearing in the local newspaper called Torch Light, for a spring water business operating nearby as a spa:
I do hereby certify that my wife was subject to a violent headache for a number of years, and by attending the spring of Jacob B. Gilbert in the month of August, 1825, she has been relieved of same. David Brumbaugh.
Presumably, people understood that she was relieved of the headache, not her head.
David and Eve ran as a “public house” or hotel a building David had built in Middleburg or State Line, Pennsylvania. After David’s death, David’s son Jacob Benjamin Brumbaugh owned this place in 1859. In an interview for an article appearing in the July 2, 1897, issue of the Public Opinion of Chambersburg, he maintained that the anti-slavery firebrand John Brown stayed there with his sons and others in October 1859 when he was planning his electrifying raid on nearby Harper’s Ferry federal arsenal (30 miles away) in order to ignite opposition to slavery. (In a related Washington County tale, one of the David Brumbaughs — his brothers Jacob, Jr. and John both had sons named David in addition to his own son Elias David– was signed into the register of another hotel, called the Washington House, in Hagerstown on the same day as another visit from John Brown and his sons– under their known alias of “I. Smith and sons” — on Thursday, June 30, 1859—this original manuscript register page can be seen online at the Western Maryland Regional Library). David’s daughter Catherine Jane Brumbaugh Newman resided in the hotel residence from the late nineteenth century until her death at age 80 in 1904 and her daughter Elizabeth Newman Koontz and her husband George owned it after that.
David died a resident of Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in April 1842 at age 66. The obituary in the Hagerstown Mail read:
At his residence in Middleburg, Franklin County, Pa. on Friday evening last Mr. DAVID BRUMBAUGH at an advanced age. On Sunday his remains were deposited in the Lutheran burying ground of this place, in the presence of a large number of relatives and friends.
Eve reportedly died later in 1845. He and Eve are both now interred in Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown. Their bodies were moved there in the 1920s when the Lutheran church where they were initially buried needed to build a bigger educational wing and made the late David and Eve scooch over to make room.
David died at age 66 and his estate was a complex one. His assets indicate readily that he was much more than a farmer, if he was ever a farmer at all, which is doubtful. First, his estate was complex and was settled much like his father’s with both a three-part accounting in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, his legal domicile for the last decade or more of his life, with a second three-part accounting in Washington County, Maryland, where he still had some property and business activities. Like his father, he died intestate leaving to survive him a wife and 10 of his 12 children (one died young and one was adopted by his brother George and predeceased him at age 5). His eldest sons Simeon (then 36) and Elias David (31) were the administrators of his estate charged with collecting all the assets and paying his legal obligations before making distribution to his wife and ten surviving children.
David owned a reputedly once 300-acre tract of land southwest of McConnellsburg (now Fulton County, just west of Franklin County, and carved out of Bedford County, all Pennsylvania, in 1850) and according to family tradition “was very fond of spending his summers there on this mountain land and it was a great treat for the grandchildren to join him there.” After David’s death, his eldest son Simeon (sometimes also spelled Simon) acquired this property, called The Meadow Grand, but then only 72 acres, for $4,935.10 by electing to take this prize possession as his share of David’s estate by a deed executed by all his siblings October 11, 1851, nearly a decade after David’s death.
David’s estate assets were varied and from a study of the estate files in both counties, the whole can be reconstructed roughly as follows:
Franklin Co., PA assets:
Personal property per appraiser’s valuation $ 839
5 promissory notes from individuals 79
“The Meadow Grand,” a 72-acre tract, located near
McConnellsburg, PA (originally Bedford, later Fulton Co.) 4,935
7 building lots in boro of Middleburg, Md. 701
Washington Co., MD assets:
Conococheague Turnpike stock $ 100
To 3 unrelated individuals $ 387
To brother Geo. Brumbaugh 1,660
Simeon $ 174
Elias David 222
Approximate Total Value of Estate $ 9,812
It is not so much the amount of the total that is impressive, which is not by any means a princely sum, but the make-up and variety of the property and how it leans away from an agricultural base.
There were some bushels of grains and a wagon on the McConnellsburg property, but the bulk of the assets in Franklin County overall consisted of household or, rather, hostelry furniture—14 tables, 36 chairs, 10 beds (featherbeds, chaff beds, and trundle beds), 7 quilts, 5 coverlets, 1 spread, and 4 “Comforts” along with a King’s ransom of pillow slips and bolsters, table cloths, yards and yards of linens, and the same for carpeting along with multiple stoves, and household kitchen appliances and living room accessories. Here was a couple who earned their living from the gracious hosting of overnight guests, not one who had to scratch his living from a hardscrabble landscape and unrelenting physical work. We have to suspect that Eve had a big hand in this, but the fact that David supported her efforts with financing them is still a sign that some of his father’s legacy had given them the means to support this business.
There were only five cows, a steer, and a bull, and four horses, a sort of basic starter set of livestock, and a smaller amount of tools than in the estate of his father. There was only one still and one barrel of rum, not nearly the volume of distillery items that his father or brothers Jacob or George owned.
The highest priced single item was a mass of 1,700 pounds of iron worth $68; although this may suggest blacksmithing, there was no forge. Nor was there any other set of items that would suggest an artisanal preoccupation. There were, however, 17 “German silver spoons,” one silver watch, one “Family Bibble,” “1 Picture & Glass,” and 3 “Corner Cupboards” with multiple chests, drawer stands, and other case pieces. Eve survived him and exercised her dower right over about 15% by value of the tangible personal property, allocating it to her share of the estate before the vendue.
Although there were no slaves present in David’s estate inventory, family tradition maintains that “he owned some slaves, never sold one, and later liberated them.” There is good reason always to maintain a healthy skepticism of ex post facto claims to liberality when it came to slaves. The Brumbaugh Genealogy goes on to relate that “One of the latter [i.e., one of those liberated] was Samuel Cole of Hagerstown, Md.” But, see earlier in this work the documented story of Samuel Cole’s manumission by George Brumbaugh. There may have been some confusion in the compiling of the genealogy.
The credit economy of the time was evidenced by the number of persons to whom David owed money and the number who owed him money at the time of his death.
What I like most about David’s estate is that its settlement took on a Dickensian Jarndyce v. Jarndyce character suitable for the era in which it was settled. In Franklin County an appraisement was filed on October 4, 1842, of the tangible personal property, as well as a list of the items sold at auction, about 156 items or groups of items.
The administrators’ first Washington County, Maryland, accounting was filed with the Orphans’ Court in January 1845, the second in quick succession in February 1845, and the third not until January 1848; while meantime in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where he was domiciled, the first of three accountings was filed in September 1843, the second followed it only in October 1851, reporting the sale of his seven building lots and the tract near McConnellsburg, and the final one reporting the collection of miscellaneous assets, mostly interest payments, was not filed until twelve years later in 1863, during the Civil War. That would amount to more than 20 years to settle completely his estate worth less than $10,000! Today even a millionaire’s estate is settled in less than three years. This kind of business was settled at a snail’s pace in those times in small towns.
While I have mentioned most of the assets, I have mentioned none of the estate’s debts or expenses. There is only one expense worth mentioning. David’s son, Elias David Brumbaugh was paid “for driving cattle and hogs from Bedford County $4.00.” A thankless task that! I feel sure that he deserved every penny. He must have drawn the short straw among the ten children.
David Angle Brumbaugh: born March 17, 1776; died April 23, 1842, in Franklin County. He married October 1805 at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran church in Hagerstown, Maryland, Anna Eve Kissecker (various spellings) (daughter of Simon Keysacre born May 20, 1747, died August 25, 1818 and [unknown]) born March 26, 1789, and died July 22, 1845, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
David and Anna Eve had the following children:
i. Simon Keesecker born September 27,1806 died July 14, 1892. He married “on Tuesday the 20th of Jan.  near Bedford before Rev. Ettinger to Miss Ann C[hristiana] Stuckey (daughter of David Stuckey, Esq. and Margaret Brake Stuckey [also spelled Stookey] of Bedford County, Pennsylvania) born January 2, 1825, Woodbury Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania; died February 11. 1906. Both died at Roaring Spring, Blair County, Pennsylvania. About this couple, see more below.
ii. George born November 12, 1808, died young.
iii. Elias David born April 22, 1811 ; died September 14, 1893. He married Marinda Etta Benner (daughter of Harry Benner and Elizabeth Showman Benner). She died August 26, 1878, both at Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
iv. Nathan Henry born May 23,1813; died April 24, 1892. He was married by Rev. J. Rebaugh on November 26, 1840, at Reformed Church of State Line, to Levina Myers (daughter of Jacob Myers and Susan Zent Myers) born January 5, 1819. She died May 28 1902, both Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
v. Elizabeth Louisa born November 15, 1815, baptized December 1815, married William Logan.
vi. Jacob Benjamin born June 23, 1818, baptized August 1819; died February 4, 1903. He married January 1, 1856, Rebecca E. Clopper (daughter Samuel Clopper and Catherine Maria Gordon Clopper) born March 15, 1834. She died April 8, 1914.
vii. Anna Maria born May 20, 1820, died young.
viii. Catherine June born June 11, 1822, baptized January1823; died December 30, 1903. She married July 4, 1842, Joseph Newman, born October 15, 1818; died May 7, 1862. After her husband died Catherine lived in the old State Line hotel, previously the home of her parents.
ix. Anna Maria born December 6, 1824, baptized June 1820; died December 18, 1867. She married Hiram Emrich Brumbaugh, her cousin, born April 13, 1825.
x. Indiana Dorothy (also written “Judianna”) born March 17, 1827, died Mansfield, Ohio. She married Henry Cook; both died Mansfield, Ohio.
xi. Eleanora Louisa G. born July 22, 1829, baptized May 1831, died February 10, 1834 before her fifth birthday. She was adopted by paternal uncle, George, and his wife, Mary Louisa Gelwicks Brumbaugh.
xii. George Washington Andrew Jackson (he signed only George W.) born July 8, 1833; died July 5, 1907. He married December 20, 1872, Anna Eliza Hartman (daughter Charles Hartman, Jr. and Susan Myers Hartman) born 1838. She died May 3, 1905, both Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Those children of David, above, with dates of baptism were all baptized at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hagerstown, Maryland.
David’s Eldest Son Simeon K. Brumbaugh and His Family:
A further mention must be added concerning David’s eldest son Simeon. Many years later in 1888 Simeon sold that mountain property and moved into a cottage in Roaring Spring (Blair County), Pennsylvania, where on January 27, 1892, during what was called the “gilded age” (the 1890s generally in America, so called for the opulently well displayed wealth) he and Christiana celebrated their golden 50th wedding anniversary. According to the newspaper report that week, the occasion began with a festive dinner for about 40 people at their home with a master of ceremonies, toasts, and all. It was recalled in particular that Simeon and his bride, as newly-weds had taken a horseback ride from their wedding before Rev. Ettinger in Bedford County to Simeon’s home in Hagerstown, Maryland, a trip of about 80 miles. Now in 1892 for their 50th five of their seven children and spouses dined at their home along with some friends and neighbors. For a golden wedding anniversary, these celebrants, reaped a treasure of the precious metal: a gold ring from their two sons, a pair of golden framed spectacles from their daughters, a gold watch and chain from their sons, a gold capped cane for father, two five-dollar gold coins (one from their grandchildren and one from friends), a rocking chair, and slippers, and for mother, a silk scarf and kerchief.
Much more importantly, however, this charmed couple, despite living in a remote, rural setting, had the good fortune to have raised two sons, one who was a lawyer in their home town (David Stuckey Brumbaugh, father of Roland E. among others) and one a doctor in Philadelphia (Simon Schmucker Brumbaugh), and four daughters, one married to a doctor, one to a Brethren minister, and one to a successful farmer. Sadly, one daughter, however, had predeceased them. Simeon and Christiana were devoted Lutherans.