Houses Don’t Move
by Everette C. Smith
1. Nicholas Sauer – 9 May 1742 to
Unpatented tract #119
Proprietary Lease GGB #B (2)/ 451, 9 May 1742
“… laid out for Nicholas Sauer, a tract of land, being part of the land reserved in said county for his Lordship’s use …”
To be held by the Manor of Baltimore by the name ‘Armagh’
In 1742 Nicholas Sauer a native of Armagh, Ireland received his patent for the lease of a 100 acre tract in the Upper Node Forest of Baltimore County, from Lord Baltimore, the Proprietary of Maryland. He named his newly patented property Armagh. He promptly built a house on the property – 16’X31’, 2 story, 2 room, chestnut log house with a basement. He was a tobacco farmer and had rented these wide open fields specifically for that purpose. As an added bonus, the southern boundary of Armagh ran along a local tobacco rolling road with York, Pennsylvania on one end and Baltimore, Maryland on the other.
How long he farmed tobacco is unknown. He did re-rent his land to James Finley who began farming the land, paying the rents and living in the house. Finley also re-rented and began farming a neighboring piece of property called “Sauer’s Refuge” 39 acres (originally rented to Joseph Butler), to the south across the road. It is interesting to note that up until the establishment of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1767 these properties were, sometimes, in York Co., PA. Deeds for some surrounding properties were found recorded in the York County Court House.
On March 22, 1774 Harford County was created from the eastern part of Baltimore County with a population of 13,000 people.
2. James Finley purchases confiscated British property
Western Shore Land Office of Maryland
Purchased at auction October 1782 at Slade’s Tavern in Baltimore County
Certificate recorded in Liber I.C. No. K, Folio 229, 21 March, 1787 (MD State Archives)
Patent recorded in Liber I.C. No. G, Folio 563, 19 August 1795 (MD State Archives)
Armagh = 100 Acres, Sauer’s Refuge = 39 ¼ Acres, Vacant land = 25 ¼ Acres
Named “Honesty is the Best Policy”
164 ¾ Acres
After the original 13 colonies created and signed the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781 (Maryland was the last to sign), the proprietary colony of Maryland (soon to be a State) started confiscating British owned land. Since the Lords Baltimore had never sold their land, only rented it, the newly formed State of Maryland became the owner of all their land which constituted all of Maryland. To raise money for the new State, they auctioned off this once British owned land. In the Baltimore and Harford County area, the auctions were held at Slade’s Tavern in October 1782. James Finley bought the two pieces of land (Armagh, 100 acres, and Sauers’ Refuge, 39 acres). Land that he had been paying rent, living on, and farming for many years (citizens who had been living, working, and paying rents on the land had first right of refusal for the property going up for auction). In addition, James bought the unowned land between his two pieces for a total of 164 ¾ acres. He received his patent 13 years later in 1795 and named his property “Honesty is the Best Policy”.
In 1804 James died. His wife, Jane, occupied the place until she got too old to farm it and gave it to her children. Only one daughter, Margaret, was still in Maryland, the rest were living in Ohio. When their mother, Jane, died in 1819 the children sold ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ to Francis Grupy, businessman tanner of Havre de Grace and Baltimore.
Note: Alexander Finley, son of James and Jane, was born in this house in 1766. When of age, he made his way to Ohio. According to the Ohio Historical Society he is listed as one of Ohio’s ‘First Settlers’. That Historical Society has quite a file on Alexander and his descendants. For instance – he settled in southeast Ohio, bought property, worked it and improved it. He sold property to John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple orchards on it and promptly lost the deed. The Finley and Chapman families have been in litigation over ownership for many generations.
3. Francis Grupy – 8 June 1819 to 3 July 1838
from – John Finley, Robert Finley and Mary his wife, Alexander Finley and Mary his wife, of Richland County, Ohio; Barnet Williams and Mary (Finley) his wife of Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Margaret Finley and Hannah Finley of Richland County, Ohio
HD Liber 3, Folio 455
8 June, 1819
164 ¾ Acres
1819, 8 June – HD, Book 3, Page 445 – The children of James and Jane Finley (both deceased); John Finley, Robert and Mary Finley, Alexander and Mary Finley, all of Richland County, Ohio; Barnett Williams and Mary (Finley) of Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Margaret Finley and Hanna Finley of Richland County, Ohio; sell “Honesty is the Best Policy”, 164 ¾ acres, to Francis Grupy.
Grupy did not farm. He used the land to harvest and burn big piles of wood, covered in a thick layer of dirt, to create coke and tannic acid for his tanning businesses in Baltimore and Havre de Grace. Some of his employees lived in the house.
4. Henry D. Farnandis (Trustee of Francis Grupy) – 23 July, 1838 to 2 April, 1844
from: Francis Grupy
HD Liber 20, Folio 324
23 July, 1838
164 ¾ Acres
Bankruptcy and divorces cost Grupy everything he had. He asked Henry D. Farnandis, Esquire, Attorney at Law to sell all of his real estate in Harford County and pay his debts. He deeded over all of these real estate holdings to Farnandis. Grupy could still use each of piece property until it was sold. The money went to pay Grupy’s debts and provide ‘support and maintenance’ to him during his lifetime.
5. Frederick Deets – 2 April, 1844 to 20 March, 1907
from: Henry D. Farnandis
HD Liber 29, Folio 267
2 April, 1844
164 ¾ Acres
Frederick made the most changes to the land and the house. He and his family owned it for 63 years.
Frederick sold 30 Acres of Honesty to Mark Stengle on February 8, 1848 (HDG Liber 34, Folio 92) and used the proceeds to put an addition on the house. This first addition was applied to the south side of the Nicholas Sauer house and stuck out to the west from the area the original house and the addition looked like a backwards L. It was two story, 17’ wide by 22’ long, made with 8”and 10’, flat sided, adz cut chestnut logs. The logs are exposed in the current house and you can see how the addition was added and changed over the years. It was built to be a kitchen, it is currently the living room. The door into it from the original house is currently behind the plaster at the foot of the steps. On the second floor a similar door from the original house is exposed in the back bedroom closet.
Frederick died in 1769 and left everything by will to his family. His son Samuel got all of the land on the north side of the road, about 115 1/ 2 acres.
About 1780 or so Samuel put the second addition on the house. It was built by his brother George using 2” x 4” rough-hewn oak studs and 10” floor and ceiling rafters. Two stories with a bay window on each floor.
Nearly all of the Deets clan is buried at Bethel Presbyterian Church, a mile to the west, along Norrisville Road.
6. Carville, C. Burton – 20 March 1907 to 15 March 1917
from: Louisa Deets, widow, William F. Deets and James E. Deets exeutors of Samuel Deets, late of Harford County, deceased, James E and Sarah I. Deets, William P. and Sadie Deets, Hannan E. (Deets) Rampley and William S. her husband, Laura V. (Deets Lamb ad Charles her husband, Mary E. (Deets) Burton and Carvill C. her husband
WSF Liber 120, Folio 372
20 March 1907
Carville Burton was Samuel Deets’ son in law. He married Samuel’s daughter Mary. They lived in Fork, Baltimore County, Maryland.
After Carville and Mary bought the property they continued to live in Fork and let the Deets family continue to live on, farm and maintain the land.
It was only after Carville’s sale to Henry and Annie Standiford that the remaner of the Deets family moved out.
7. Henry E. and Annie E. Standiford – 15 March, 1917 to 28 March, 1925
from: Carville C. and Mary E. Burton
JAR Liber 155, Folio 120
15 march, 1917
8. Norman E. and Myrtle W. Standiford – 28 March, 1925 to 7 March, 1931
from: Henry E. and Annie E. Standiford
DGW Liber 193, Folio 6
28 March, 1925
9. Charles P. and Rickie Breidebaugh – 7 March 1931 to 5 January, 1965
from: Norman E. and Myrtle W. Standiford
SWC Liber 218, Folio 259
7 March, 1931
10. Whitmac, Inc. – 5 January, 1965 to 2 February, 1966
from: Mildred B. (Breidenbaugh) Quesinberry and her husband Lester F.
Ruth B. (Breidenbaugh) Hanley and her husband Harry V. Hanley
John C. and Sue C. Breidenbaugh
GRG Liber 666, Folio 109
5 Jan 1965
69.744 Acres on the north side of Maryland Route 23 (Norrisville Road) where this property is located.
19.130 Acres on the south side of Maryland Route 23 (Norrisville Road) where Jarrettsville Elementary School is now.
‘Whitmac’ is a contraction of Helen R White, a real estate agent in Harford County, and D. Franklin ‘Mac’ Mc Ginnis a Fallston lawyer and one of Harford County’s County Commissioners.
They rented the house out to tenants.
11. Norman A. and Mary E. Showers – 9 February, 1966 to 2 February, 1967
from: Whitmac, Inc.
GRG Liber 701, Folio 337
9 February, 1966
Due to health and other limiting circumstances conditions, Helen and Mac sold the developable part of ‘Honesty’ Norman and Mary Showers who were going to finish the approval process on the preliminary plans and develop the property. They didn’t.
They also rented the house out to tenants.
12. Northern Land and Development Corporation – 2 February, 1967 to 10 July 1968
from: Norman A. and Mary E. Showers
GRG Liber 739, Folio 56
2 February, 1967
Cristian P. Klapproth, President of Northern Land and Development Corporation had the finances and expertise to make Harford Downs a subdivision.
The “Honesty is the Best Policy” house was not part of the subdivision. It could not be sold until the subdivision lots and roads had been computed, platted and recorded. The size and shape of the house lot was dependent on the computed lots and road configuration. When all computations were completed and the County had approved the record plats for the parts of the subdivision surrounding the house, the Northern Land and Development Corporation sold its first piece of property, the only part not recorded, to Burns and Ennice Monk.
13. Burns K. and Ennice D. Monk – 10 July 1968 to 13 August 1982
from: Northern Land and Development Corporation
GRG Liber 783, Folio 257
10 July, 1968
Burns and his wife purchased the old tract house of the original ‘Armagh’ lease, and ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ patent. This piece of property was not included in the Harford Downs subdivision and as such could not be conveyed as a recorded lot. It had to be surveyed as a separate entity. It is still not a part of the surrounding subdivision and does not have to comply with any of the subdivision rules and regulations.
Burns and his adjoining neighbor to the south, John Breidenbaugh, purchased Lot #21 in the Harford Downs subdivision (which adjoined both of them) and split it in half – 0.355 acres each – as shown on a recorded plat Liber 23, Folio 34. It increased the property size from 1.35 Acres to 1.705 Acres.
14. Christopher Brian Donhauser (son) and Thelma M. Petticord (mother) – 13 August, 1982 to 28 July, 1986
from: Burns K. and Ennice D. Momk
HDC Liber 1168, Folio 941
13 August, 1982
Brian was an auto mechanic his mother, Thelma worked for the telephone company. She put a telephone in each room, including the bathrooms. Electrical and telephone wires were strung round the house on the outside instead of routing them through walls or ceilings. Brian liked bricks. He mixed and poured concrete on the hardwood floor in the second floor back bedroom and set bricks into the wet mortar. Then he had to cut the doors off in order for them to open and close.
15. Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith – 28 July, 1968 to Today
from: Christopher Brian Donhauser (son) and Thelma M Peddicord (mother)
CGH Liber 1342, Folio 602
28 July, 1986
Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
From: Joseph B. Spencer, Jr.
CGH Liber 2553, Folio 427
6 June, 1997
A 0.237 acre piece purchased from Spencer in order to move the property line away from the house to the other side of the tree line.
Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
from: Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
CGH Liber 3992, Folio 124
21 May, 2002