The History of Waverly Farm's Land
Maryland is rich in history and was one of the original 13 colonies. The colonies were divided
into three groups; New England Colonies, Middle Colonies and Southern Colonies. Maryland
belonged to the Southern Colonies. Almost every city, town, village and county in Maryland has
an interesting story to tell as the colony evolved over time and played major roles in the
founding and development of our nation.
Maryland was a very important colony due to its port at Baltimore, abundant seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, rich farmland found everywhere, and favorable agricultural climate. Maryland's early economy was based on shipbuilding, iron production, agriculture, and import/export.
My research over the years has discovered very interesting facts and tidbits, too numerous to share in a brief article. Below, I share very briefly, the story of the land that has become home to Waverly Farm. The Carroll family, through many generations, is one of the most important families in Maryland's history and is where our story begins.
1600's Charles Carroll the Settler
The story of Waverly Farm is rooted in the immigration of Charles Carroll (1661 to 1720) from Ireland to Maryland in 1688. Well educated and connected in Europe he received a commission to be the attorney general of Maryland, then a colony, on his arrival at the young age of 27. There were five generations by the name Charles Carroll. To differentiate, the first four assumed interesting names rather than I, II, III, and IV. The first was Charles Carroll the Settler who became enormously wealthy with diversified businesses and eventually acquired tens of thousands of acres and fortune in part through marriage. Charles the Settler was the largest mortgage lender in the colony. When he died in 1720 he was considered the wealthiest man and largest landowner in Maryland. Using this type of naming for subsequent generations was not common back then but was also not unusual.
1700's Charles Carroll of Annapolis
Charles Carroll of Annapolis (1702 to 1782), son of the Settler took over the family empire and expanded it. Charles Carroll of Annapolis acquired 17,000 acres in Central Maryland and named the site Carrollton Manor (date unclear) and granted the entire estate to his son Charles Carroll of Carrollton. It is said he chose the land because it was covered in native red and white oak, hickory, and massive walnut trees. He understood that these species thrived in the best soils.
1800's Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Charles of Annapolis' son was known as Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737 to 1832). Carroll County, Maryland was named for him in 1837. He was very influential in politics and in settling matters of government. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and was the last signer to die. As was tradition in colonial times, he partnered with tenant farmers to develop Carrollton Manor. Originally, tobacco was the important crop which gave way to wheat, cotton, and other small grains. He was a good landlord, helped others build homes and paid for the construction of Saint Josephs Catholic Church (1829, rebuilt 1867) which still stands today. In 2014, the parish built a brand new church but left the original. His daughter, Marianne, built a mansion named the Manor House around 1864 not far from the church. It has been restored over time and still stands prominently in our neighborhood. The Manor House eventually became part of 3,000 acres owned by Eastalco, a subsidiary of ALCOA. They built a smelting plant to produce Aluminum; employed 500 and shut down in 2005 when they lost a long term electric supply contract. When they shut down they were the state's largest electricity consumer paying $75,000,000 per year. The new contract doubled the electric cost and they left town. Eastalco used the Manor House to entertain visitors and hold meetings.
During the 1800's Carrollton Manor evolved into very successful privately owned farms and plantations when the Carroll family began selling parcels of ground. Current day Waverly Farm is part of Carrollton Manor and was named Waverly mid-1800; I can find no reference as to why the name was chosen.
In the 1800s, Waverly was a plantation that produced vegetables and small grains marketed in Washington, D.C. There are many historical references to the quality and productivity of the soil found in the valley. When you visit Waverly Farm, many will travel through Buckeystown. The prominent village had many important businesses including a tannery, grain mill, brickworks, and lime kiln. Canneries were later found in the area to preserve the valley's vegetable production. Dairy farms then dominated but in recent decades, dairying has declined. The land remains highly productive for small grains and of course, nursery production. When looking to the east from Waverly, one sees Sugarloaf Mountain and a stone barracks high on the west overlook used by the Union Army as a lookout to track Confederate movements.
The Waverly site was first purchased by Benjamin Moffett from St. George Tucker (son of Charles Carroll Tucker) on November 18, 1850 for $13,500. While General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson were traveling past Waverly to Gettysburg, Moffett presented Jackson with a beautiful white horse; Moffett along with many Marylanders was sympathetic to the South. Moffett sold the farm to Archibald T. Snouffer on May 1, 1866 for $20,000. The Italianate home we use as our office was considered a mansion when it was built by Archibald T. Snouffer (more on the Snouffer family later). Archibald sold the farm to George Snouffer for $20,000 ($6,000 cash and $14,000 in assumed mortgage) on June 17, 1882. There was a recession about this time and presumably land prices declined; we know about such things. Several Snouffer family members owned farms nearby and were considered the largest slave owners in Maryland. Waverly, along with many of the plantations in this area had slaves.
Adamstown, MD, our mailing address, holds its place in history but not significantly. Adamstown was first known as Davis' Warehouse because Dr. Meredith Davis, a leading Quaker miller, built a warehouse there about 1835. The first settler in Adamstown was Robert Palmer, an African American "post and railer" who also ran a general store around 1835. The 1832 arrival of the railroad to Carrollton Manor created the economic and transportation impetus for the development of the community. CSX and MARC trains run on the same right-a-way today which passes through Adamstown. In 1840 when Adam Kohlenburg was appointed the first B&O railway agent, the community became Adamstown after his given name. He was also the first postmaster and ran a general store. Many skirmishes in the Civil War were fought here and the town was often raided, most notoriously by the 43rd Battalion Virginia Calvary, also known as Mosby's Rangers, on July 30 and October 14, 1864. On one of these raids, Adam Kohlenburg's entire stock was taken. Local folklore holds that one family had a son fighting for the North and one fighting for the South.
Frederick City, about nine miles to the northwest from the farm, became an important crossroad for Civil War activities in the North. The road that runs in front of Waverly Farm the east boundary was the passage for tens of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers and their equipment to engage at the battles of the Monocacy, Antietam, Boonsboro, South Mountain, Hancock, Gettysburg, Williamsport and many other lesser skirmishes. The Potomac River lies a couple miles to our south and provided several crossing points for the armies.
Waverly Farm has its roots at River Farm Nursery, a 25-acre plot of land on the Potomac River near Poolesville, Maryland. I had already spent 20 years in the green industry owning Hydro Lawn, a regional lawn and landscape firm. River Farm Nursery started out as a diversion from the day-to-day hectic pace of operating a five-state business with tens of thousands of residential customers. I rediscovered my roots having grown up in a dairy farming community in Western New York State. Farming was back in my life for good.
I developed a passion as a grower and 25 acres couldn't really keep me that busy. Finally in 1996, after an extensive five-year search, I found what I had been looking for in Frederick County, Maryland. The land for the future Waverly Farm was divided into two 100-acre parcels, separated by a county road. The property was essentially twice as much land as I was looking for, but because the soils were so valuable, I didn't want to pass on this opportunity. I bought the whole farm, with every intention of selling off the additional hundred acres. Turned out, 100 acres wasn't enough either and the original 200 acres is now Waverly Farm.
The site for Waverly Farm, formerly a dairy farm, was selected based on its high quality soil. We recognize the value of these soils and are committed to preserving the land. We have committed nearly 50 acres to grass isles and perimeter strips throughout the nursery to prevent soil erosion. To assure soil is always available for production, and to build new soil sold with plants, we amend them with 120 tons per acre of compost with each planting rotation.
An interesting historical note relates to Dulles Airport which is about 20 miles to our southwest. When Dulles was in the planning stages, the valley that contains Waverly was seriously considered as a site for the new airport.
In 2013, I was very fortunate to meet Pat and Stanley Snouffer. Stanley is a descendant of the Snouffer family that owned Waverly in the 1800's. They have become great friends of the farm and visit regularly as Stanley is a Civil War artifact enthusiast who metal detects here and at many other sites in the region. He has had some good days here finding artifacts to add to his vast collection. He has also studied the history of his family and the area extensively, providing us with much detail about this part of Maryland.
Waverly Farm is a part of the county that extends from the Catoctin Mountain Ridge to the Potomac and Monocacy Rivers. Frederick County is committed to limiting growth in the area while preserving small town character, scenic vistas, a clean environment, and historical sites. Waverly Farm is preserved in perpetuity through the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. The land can never be commercially developed and will always be a productive part of Maryland's agricultural community of over 2,000,000 acres statewide. In 1960, Maryland farmers worked on 3.67 million acres compared to the 2 million today. Sadly, farmland acres continue to decline.