Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails

Lake Tawakoni & Venus Texas


We had very poor internet access after leaving southern Florida – so we are now catching up on our video and blog postings.

Lake Tawakoni Texas – Thousand Trails

March 2017


Central Texas

 We are on our way west to the Escapee Escapade in Tucson Arizona.  We stopped at Lake Tawakoni to take a few days to veg out and unwind from traveling from Southern Florida.
Lake Tawakoni is a Thousand Trails RV park.  It was flooded some time ago, but many repairs are being done (primarily electrical).  The park is spacious and it was fun flying Eyes of Lola (our DJI Mavic Drone).  The wind was calm and weather good, so we got some good flying in.  We are getting the many features of the drone dialed in, and you will see more improvements over time.
The trees were just starting to bud out, and the wildflowers were showing their colors.  There are some neat spiders just waiting for a quick snack too!
 Lake Tawakoni
There were lots of trails to walk the dogs, and the lake has some great places to boat.  Some of the reviews complained about ruts in the roads, but we didn’t have any problems as long as we kept Lola at the 5 mph.  Like many other Thousand Trails parks there are more and more seasonal or annual sites.  Lake Tawakoni is no exception.  We feel some of the sites really needed more cleanup; however this was still early in the “season”.
Just before leaving, our water heater started leaking (inside the RV!).  It appears the back flow valve leaks.  I took it out and removed the back-flow valve inside, but it was still leaking.

Venus, Texas

We drove on to the Texan RV Ranch in Venus Texas to see our good friends in Arlington.  We had a great dinner with Mike and Vicky then did some much needed shopping in Venus.
Next – on to Lake Whitney – Another Thousand Trail preserve and a quick visit to Magnolia Market in Waco.
As always,
Happy trails!

Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort at Clermont

Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort

When we traveled south through Florida in December, we stayed at Thousand Trails Orlando and Christine really enjoyed the park.  Unfortunately my dad fell ill, and I flew to Oregon while Christine stayed with the dogs in Orlando.  Because of this I did not spend much time at the Orlando Thousand Trails.  We were hoping to stay there again in February while we took care of business as Floridians, however the park was full.  Thousand Trails put us in an overflow park in Clermont called Clerbrook Golf and RV park.



To say the least, it was by far the one of the best non Thousand Trail parks we had stayed in since hitting the road in May.  After our experiences with Encore “Resorts” with our “Elite” Thousand Trails camping package I have to admit we had some reservations.

We stayed in Clermont 5 days enjoying our last days in Florida for a while.  Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort was a fantastic park, with lots of woods to take the dogs out walking, nice (but small) RV spaces and well maintained facilities.  There are lots of full-time (annual or seasonal lease holders), but unlike some places everyone kept their lots neat and tidy.  And, if you like golf, this is a perfect place with an on-site golf course and pro shop.

Clerbrook is close by to Lakeridge Winery – the largest winery in Florida.  We got some of the wines, but the ‘Southern Red’ surprised us tasting similar to a Boones Berry Farm style sweet red wine.  High School memories for Christine (har har).

Don’t miss the Citrus Tower (Orange Tower) – a tourist icon since 1956.  Probably the coolest fact we learned was that just for Lake County, there are over 1,400 natural fresh water lakes.  We took the elevator ride up to the top, then brought the drone out for some more pictures.

Clermont is in the Ridge area of Central Florida, and is equidistant between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.  We visited Space Coast on the Atlantic side to see the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.  We got to the Space Center after 3, so didn’t go on a tour; but enjoyed seeing the rockets and the rocket launch sites.

We had fantastic weather for February… low 80s during the days!  Just about perfect.  It was a nice week to finish up our first Florida Snowbird season.

Happy Trails


Westward Ho!

Westward Ho

Pacific Coast, Here We Come

Westward Ho

After spending almost 3 months in Florida, we are back on the road and heading west to California and Oregon.  We started our journey westward at M-RV park in Moore Haven, Florida.  Yeah!  Westward Ho!

Getting our new glass for our door

Next we stopped at RV Glass Solutions in Lakeland to get our foggy window in Lola’s door replaced, however the glass was the wrong thickness.  Whoops!  Fortunately we had business to take care of in Bushnell while the correct window was overnighted to Lakeland.  We drove back Lakeland to get it installed after staying 5 days at Clerbrook FL.  What a difference to have a window I can look out of… especially making those right turns!  We replaced the old dual pane window with a laminated glass window that has no gap to fog.  Richard in Lakeland was great to work with.

Interstate 10

Once we hit I-10 I felt we were truly heading west.  Our next stop was at A Stones Throw Away RV Park in Tallahassee.  This is a nice clean RV Park with easy access from I-10.  It’s very reasonably priced too.  It has a self check-in if you arrive after hours, so even if you can’t get through on the phone go ahead and check them out.

Summerdale NOLF Trainer

Summerdale NOLF Trainer

Christine found it a challenge to get same-day reservations in the Pensacola area, but then she located Emmaus RV Park in Summerdale, Alabama, just over the Florida border.  It’s about 9 miles away from the freeway and well worth the short drive.  The RV park is right next to the NOLF Summerdale where Navy pilots train to land.  Fortunately, it’s used only during the daytime (and usually just Monday – Friday).  If you like planes, you are in for a treat.  If you want to fly your drone, you will have to look elsewhere as it’s a no-fly-zone.

Emmaus RV Park Summerdale

Emmaus RV Park Summerdale

Next we stopped at Pass Christian RV park, in Pass Christian Mississippi.  We should have planned to stop here for at least 2 days.  They give discounts for Passport America and Escapees.  It is well off the freeway and just a short bicycle ride to white sand gulf beaches.  We were there during Mardi Gras.  Too bad we didn’t stay longer and we made it out of there just in time before they closed the roads for the parade.

Gulf from Pass Christian RV Park

Gulf from Pass Christian RV Park

Pass Christian RV Park

Pass Christian RV Park

Cajun Palms RV Resort in Henderson Louisiana is our last stop on I-10 for a while.  It’s a great family oriented park with lots of activities for kids.  Very large with all sites paved with grassy areas between.  The wind picked up, so no drone flying here!

Interstate 49

Having lived in California for many years we are used to State Highway 49 – in the Sierra foothills following the ’49er gold rush cities.  Interstate 49 goes from I-10 in Louisiana to Missouri.   Our first stop was Ajax Country Livin RV Park at the Ajax exit near Natchitoches, Louisiana.  It is a jewel of a park.  Nothing fancy, but relatively quiet considering how close it is to the freeway.  Nice ponds to watch turtles sun themselves and great camp hosts.  We would definitely stay here again.  Video added 3/10/17.

Next, we are taking I-49 up to Thousand Trails Lake Tawakoni in Texas where I hope to have a chance to put together some videos.


Next we are heading to Arlington, Texas to visit wonderful friends we have vacationed with in the past. After that we are heading to Waco, Texas to stop by the Magnolia Market of the Chip and Joanna Gaines HGTV Fixer Upper fame.  Then a few days to kick back at Thousand Trails Lake Whitney before our journey continues on to Arizona.

Escapade Tucson Arizona

Tucson is our first destination where we are to attend the 57th Escapade (Escapee Rally).  This is our second rally – our first was the FMCA Rally in Massachusetts last July.  We are excited to go to an Escapee rally next.


We were having challenges finding reservations in the Sedona area through Thousand Trails as they are doing some major construction there and read that much of the BLM is booked during this time.  So we called one more place and will be staying at the Verde River RV Resort and Cottages for a week.  Can’t wait to take the drone out in the canyons and see the stars at night.


Then on to California to visit with our daughters and their families before heading up to Oregon to help my brother sell our dad’s house.

Stay tuned as we exercise our drone Eyes of Lola to get some videos of our travels.

Happy Trails,




South Central Florida

South Central Florida

We decided to try out a private RV park near Lake Okeechobee after seeing the prices to stay on the Keys, and Miami did not excite us.  We found M RV Resort in Moore Haven.  The reviews were good and the price was right.

Many of the reviews indicated that the biggest challenge was grocery shopping.  Even though Moore Haven is Glades county seat, there is not a single grocery store in town.  However both LaBelle and Okeechobee stores such as Walmart and Winn-Dixie.  They are about 20 to 25 miles away.

The park is pretty basic, and most of the lots are fairly close together, however once we got parked (snug fit) it was fine.

There is a nice heated pool, shuffle boards and rec center with pool tables.  There is no exercise room or hot tub – but there are gators in the ponds to make up for that!  We haven’t seen a gater in the park though several have seen them.

Exploring the area – Lake Okeechobee, Fisheating Creek Bird Sanctuary, Manatee Park (Fort Myers), Bonita Springs

With almost perfect weather hovering around 80 degrees 5 days out of 7 and lows in the 60’s.  Real tough eh?

ForecastA couple of rainy days – and a few windy days but for the most part the weather has been perfect for flying the drone, walking the dogs, and exploring.  The Herbert Hoover Dike is 143 miles long and offers great walking and biking opportunities.  We feature the dike in both videos.  However, much of the dike is under restoration, so check with the Army Corps of Engineers before heading out.  We found their maps somewhat accurate, if you know what I mean!



I’ve been taking care of my dad’s probate, with lots of help from my brother.  My brother has been living with and taking care of dad for the past several years – that has provided dad with a very good quality of life up to the end last December.

Bonita Springs

We visited with longtime friends in Bonita Springs, and they took us on a boat ride along the intracoastal waterway.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon enjoying a lunch on the water and then doing a little bit of exploring in areas you normally don’t see from the road.


Manatee Park – Fort Myers

We made a trip to Fort Myers to establish a bank account for dad’s Probate, and visited Manatee Park – a Lee County Park.


Fisheating Creek Bird Sanctuary

Just a short distance away from Moore Haven, towards the town of Okeechobee is the Fisheating Creek Bird Sanctuary.  It is also the location of the site of Fort Center.  Fisheating Creek Bird Sanctuary is a great place to explore wildlife.  There is one Alligator near the visitor center that looked to be 10 to 12 feet long.  We stopped at the visitor center to make sure we could use the drone for pictures, which they said was ok as long as we weren’t using it for hunting or harassing any of the wildlife.  The Sanctuary has both wooded area as well as Florida Savannah (combination grassland and trees).  We biked around as long as the road allowed, but then got into an area with deep sand and walked the rest of the way.  Did get a flat tire while riding back, but that allowed us to see more birds while walking back to the visitor center and our car.

US Highway 29 between LaBelle and Moore Haven

We passed a pond 2 days in a row and saw a cow in the middle of a pond munching away on pond plants.  Each time, we said “we have to take the drone and get a picture of the cow with the birds.”  The third day we drove by we had the drone, but no cow.  There were 3 fat alligators we took pictures of though and lots of jumping fish!


Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

We Are Snowbirds!

Lake at Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve

Orlando Thousand Trails

We Are Snowbirds in Central Florida

I can’t believe we are actually Snowbirds!  In November we traveled from Northern New York through the eastern US visiting many of my ancestral stomping grounds in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.  We stopped over to visit good friends in Atlanta and arrived in Florida on December 1st.  All the way down Jack Frost was chasing us.  What a relief to get to WARM Florida.

Family Responsibilities

My dad has slowed down over the past few years.  I knew it would be a risk living on the right coast for a year, and hoped there would be no issues.  In December however, he fell ill, and passed away on the 31st of December.  This involved 2 flights to Oregon during December and early January.  Fortunately I was able to spend some time with dad before he died at age 98.

The RV Lifestyle poses significant challenges if you have elderly parents or siblings.  We have 3 large dogs which adds to the complexity.  Though it’s not the best solution, we managed through this talking about options before we left.  Christine stayed to take care of the RV and the dogs while I flew to Oregon.  Make sure you have a plan for handling family emergencies while you are on the road before they come up!

The first trip to Eugene I had freezing rain and black ice to contend with.  The second time there was several inches of snow that just wouldn’t melt.  Both are very rare occurrences in Eugene.  I grew up there and can count on one hand the number of school days missed because of bad weather.


Freezing Rain in Eugene

Freezing Rain in Eugene

Encore Resorts

Before we retired, we upgraded our Thousand Trails membership to “Elite”, that added several Encore resorts to our membership.  We decided to try some of the Encore resorts because they were closer to the Gulf than the Thousand Trails.

Vacation Village Resort – Largo FL

Vacation Village Resort is on a very busy highway in a semi-industrial area of Largo.  The lots are very close together, and all the nicer lots are held for seasonal or monthly residents.  Thousand Trails members lots are out by the front near the street.  No dog park unless you consider the 12″ wide dog walk – a strip of sand and grass with doggy bags – a dog park.  I would not consider this a resort, although they did have a pool.  We stayed there 12 days.

There are lots of trails around Largo to take the dogs walking, and a couple of nice dog parks around the town.  Dog beaches are hard to find though – the best being Fort Desoto south of Saint Petersburg.

Winter Quarters Manatee – Bradenton FL

Winter Quarters Manatee is on highway 75, and I mean right on 75.  The “Resort” had pretty good reviews, and if you are on the far side of the park away of I-75 the freeway noise and smell is not bad.  However, Thousand Trails members seem to be relegated to only the lots closest to the freeway even when other lots are available.   Otherwise, the park is very nice with 2 pools and a nice recreation area and a dog park.

Like Largo, there are some nice parks where you can take the dogs, but only 1 dog beach that we could find near Robinson Preserve.  The only reason we didn’t move on here is because I had to fly to Oregon for my Dad’s funeral.

RV Glass Solutions

We stopped at RV Glass Solutions that recently opened up a shop in Florida.  Before they distributed to other glass shops – now they can handle RV Glass installations themselves.  We got the side window that was fogged up measured.

RV Glass Solutions

Thousand Trails

We stayed 2 weeks at Thousand Trails Orlando between the 2 Encore resorts.  Orlando Preserve is a true Thousand Trails park with lakes and plenty of space between rigs in most sections.  There is some road noise from the highway, but the campground itself far enough away that usually you don’t hear too much.  There is a dog park and lots of trails.  At night you can even see the fireworks from Disneyworld!  The campground is currently undergoing major upgrades.  Our site recently had 50 amp service installed, and more sites getting power upgrades.  Staff was friendly, bathrooms and showers were clean.

Happy Trails from the SNOWBIRDS Trippin’ Engles

Family History Tour – Tennessee and Kentucky

Our Last Family History Episode – Family History Tour – Tennessee and Kentucky

In our previous episodes, we visited Jeff’s family’s ancestral homes in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  We were able to explore both his dad’s father’s ancestry as well as his mother’s dating back to the early 1700’s.

This is the last episode of our east coast tour with Tennessee and Kentucky wrapping up the trip.




Carter County, Tennessee

Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather George moved from Shenandoah Junction in West Virginia to Carter County Tennessee when this part of the country was still part of North Carolina (Washington County N.C.).  It later became part of Tennessee.  Tracking all of the changes from North Carolina to Tennessee was a challenge!

We are lucky to have a family history book written in the 1940’s that chronicled the migrations of Jeff’s family so we have a head start in our research.  Using we then found land grants issued to my 4th Great Grandfather in Tennessee.

We also found records of George being active in the local government by researching local county historical society records online find that George was elected as a judge & jailer at different times besides being a farmer.

The land records for the county record that George sold some of his Tennessee property to his eldest son Peter.  Peter then sold the land back to his father when he moved to Kentucky.  A year later George sold all of his property in Tennessee and moved the rest of the family to Kentucky.

Barbourville, Kentucky

After George moved to Barbourville, Kentucky we found that Peter became involved with local politics by holding various positions and owned several pieces of property in downtown Barbourville and farmland outside of town.  My 3rd Great Grandfather Jacob owned a farm just outside of Barbourville – again county land records were researched using

Both George and Jacob are buried in Barbourville.  Their plot on a city property was assumed by the land owner who had the house nearby, and their headstones were used in the foundation of a house!  We learned this from cousins sharing research they had done.

Wrapping it up

We had a wonderful trip traveling down the east coast.  We visited cemeteries where Jeff’s ancestors are buried and battlegrounds they fought at.  We learned a lot about how early settlers lived during the 1700’s and 1800’s.  We hope you enjoyed these stories and encourage you  to do your own family history story.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles.

Washington North Carolina

Which Washington North Carolina?

In doing our genealogy – family history research Jeff identified property that his 4th Great-Grandfather owned in Washington North Carolina.  And we are there!

Only problem, reading the history of Washington in North Carolina we find out that the area of Washington in 1750 became a county in North Carolina that later became part of Tennessee!  Carter County Tennessee to be exact.  Once we figured that out we added Tennessee to our schedule, but left Washington North Carolina as a 3 day vacation and research stop since Jeff had been unable to complete his detailed research on where (exactly) to go because his stiff neck prevented him from working on the computer.  Yeah, long story short.

Washington (the town) North Carolina was named by a soldier who fought under General George Washington.  The city is on the Pamilico River that empties into the Atlantic Ocean a few miles downstream.  It has the distinction of being the first town named Washington!

What to do in Washington North Carolina (The Town)

Little Washington is a nice quiet town off the beaten track.  It has a nice boardwalk, and in November it does not have the hustle-bustle that we are sure happens in the summer.  There are some nice sea food restaurants, and the boardwalk is a nice place to walk the dogs.  It appears to be a boater’s paradise.

Goose Creek State Park

Close to Washington, is Goose Creek State Park.  It is another wonderful place to walk the dogs and watch the boats out on the river.

Tranter’s Creek Campground

We stayed in Tranter’s Creek Campground.  It had great Wi-Fi for Jeff’s research and our movie streaming.  It also had a really nice open area just in front of the RV to walk the dogs and for Jeff to fly our ‘practice’ drone.  Only got caught in the trees once!  Jeff had to get the RV ladder over by a tree along with a pole.  With Christine holding the ladder, Jeff managed to whack the drone a couple of times until it fell off the branch that was holding it captive.

We would stay in Tranter’s Creek Campground again.  Staff if friendly and the park is clean.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Genealogy On The Road

How we did our Genealogy On The Road

Genealogy is a popular pastime for many.  There are several programs on TV like Who do you think you are? on the TLC cable channel that are fun to watch.  We are traveling down the eastern states on our way to Florida and Jeff has ancestors that emigrated to the US in the early 1700’s.  Here’s how we did our genealogy on the road.


Map showing westward migration of the early Engles 1740-1861

Preparing for a Family History Road Trip

Jeff has worked on our family history since the mid 1990’s.  Fortunately an uncle on his dad’s side had done some genealogy research and we already had a book on his mom’s side to get us started.  We purchased other family history books, published our research on and used Family Tree Maker software and to share and exchange genealogy research information.  By 1999 we had several roots of our tree going back 7 generations.

Since then we have filled in lots of blanks – researching other family lines and more importantly learning what professions they had, where they lived and anything else we could find to learn who they were.  The most interesting facts were found by looking at:

  • Birth locations of children
  • Land purchase/sale records
  • War records
  • Census data
  • Historical documents
  • Church Records
  • Cemetery Records ( is great, but not 100% correct!)

We are focusing on the east coast.  After landing in Philadelphia in 1740, Jeff’s 5th great-grandfather Melchor Engle and his mother traveled to Lancaster Pennsylvania.  After marrying Mary Magdalena Beyerle and having 6 sons in Lancaster they moved to Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia.  His son George (Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather) married in Shenandoah Junction, then moved to eastern Tennessee where Jacob (Jeff’s 3rd Great Grandfather) was born.  They moved to eastern Kentucky where Jacob farmed and lived his days.  Jacob’s son Levi was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri which takes us beyond our trip to Florida.  This gives us the path for our trip.  In addition we mapped out other ancestors that lived in the colonies & states between 1730 and 1850 along the route.

Lola - Ready to GO!

Lola – Ready to GO!

Genealogy On The Road

On the road, we reviewed existing documentation and used the internet to get more specific locations for the farms and cemeteries to visit.  One of the gems we used were documents for districts, homes and buildings in the national historic registry.  These documents contain a lot of information on the chain of purchases, use of the land/buildings and historical context.  We found some of these documents at county history websites, others at the national registry database.

The most time-consuming task is to match the land record information with maps.  A typical description includes waterways for boundaries.  That is where we started in Google Maps.  Of course you can not search by the names of rivers, brooks, branches and especially locations such as: ‘beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek’ etc.  See the example below that shows the challenge of interpreting old land purchase records where Melchor purchased land from his father-in-low.

Example Deed from 1746

Michael Beyerle to Melchor Engle
This indenture made the 10th day of April in the year of our Lord 1746 between Michael Beyerle of the Borough of Lancaster in the Province of Pennsylvania, Yeoman, and Catherine his wife of the one part and Melchor Engle of the County of Lancaster and Province aforesaid, Saddler, son of the said Catherine by a former husband, of the other part, witnesseth that the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife for and in consideration of the natural love and affection they bear unto the said Melchor Engle and for his advancement in the world, as of the sum of 100 pounds lawful money of the said Province to them in hand paid by the said Melchor Engle the receipt thereof they do hereby acknowledge have given granted and aliened enfeoffed and confirmed and by these presents to give grant, and aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns all of that certain tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being on the east side of Conestoga creek in Larnpeter Twp. in the county of Lancaster afores, beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek at a corner of land formerly of Edmund Carthedge and extending thence by the same south, south east 264 perches to a black oak, thence by lands late of Jacob Harress and Christian Jonce, west by south 155 perches to a post, thence by vacant land west by north 400 perches to a Hickory tree by the aforesaid creek, thence down the same by the several courses thereof, 220 perches to the place of beginning, containing 225 and an allowance of six acres on a hundred for roads and highways, which said tract or parcel of land was granted to the said Michael Beyerle, his heirs and assigns by patent from the Hon.  John Penn, Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, Esquires, true and absolute proprietors and Governors in chief of the said Province, under the land of the said Thomas Penn and the great seal of the said Province bearing date of the 2nd day of May in the year of our Lord’ 1740, as by the said patent recorded in the office for recording of deeds for the city and county of Philadelphia in Patent book A. Vol. 10 page 229 the 10th day of March in the year of our Lord 1740, (relation being there unto had may more fully and at large appear) together with all and singular the improvements, rights, and members and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents, issues & profits thereof and all the estate, right title, interest, property claim and demand of them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, of in and to the premises hereby granted and true copies of all deeds, evidences & witnesses concerning the same to be had and made at the proper costs and charges of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, to have and to hold the said tract of 225 acres of land hereditiments and promises hereby granted with their and every of their appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle and his heirs, to the only proper use in behoof of the said Melchor Engle his heirs and assigns forever, under the yearly quit rent henceforth accruing and growing due and payable to the chief lord or lords of the fee thereof, and the said Michael Beyerle and his heirs, the said tract of land hereditaments and promises hereby granted with the appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, against them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and against all persons claiming or to claim by, from, or under them, shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents, and the said Michael Beyerle, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators and for the said Catherine his wife, doth covenant, promise and grant to and with the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that he, the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and all and every other person and persons, whatsoever having or lawfully claiming or to claim any estate right title or interest of, in or the said premises r any part thereof, by, from or any of them, shall or will at any time or times hereafter at the reasonable request cost and charges in the law of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, make, execute and acknowledge or cause so to be all and every such further and other lawfull and reasonable act and acts, deed and deeds, devices and devices in the law, whatsoever for the further and better assurance and confirmation of the said tract of 225 acres of land, hereditaments and promises hereby granted or mentioned so to be with the appurtances under the same Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, as by him the said Melchor Engle or by his or their council learned in the law shall be reasonably devised, advised and required, in witness whereof the said parties to these presents their hands and seals interchangeably have set here unto. 
Dated the year and day first above written, sealed and delivered in the presents of us.
German name (in script) Michael Beyerle (in German)
German name (in script) her
Tho. Cookson Catherine X Beyerle
Received of the above named Melchor Engle on the day of the date of these presents the full sum of 100 pounds lawful money of Penn., being the consideration money above mentioned.
100 0    0
Lb Sh P         Test.  Tho.  Cookson,
By me Michael Beyerle, (written in German)

Hope you enjoyed our hints about doing Genealogy On The Road!

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Shenandoah Junction

 Family History stop #3 – Shenandoah Junction

Our trip following Jeff’s ancestors has taken us from Lancaster Pennsylvania to Shenandoah Junction in the northern Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia.

Map of Shenandoah Junction

Fits and Starts

Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle purchased two tracts of land from Lord Fairfax, along Elk Branch.  We initially thought Elk Branch that flows into Back Creek in the western section of the West Virginia panhandle west of Martinsburg WV was it.  However it is a long distance away from Shenandoah Junction where we knew Melchor ended up.  It was a nice drive through a pretty remote section of West Virginia.  We stopped by a bread and breakfast to ask about old property ownership and the owner brought out a booklet tracing several of the nearby properties transfers.  No Engle’s on this list.

Doing additional scanning using Google Maps Jeff found an Elk Branch just outside of Shenandoah Junction very close to the GPS coordinates we had for Melchor’s gravesite (  Now this Elk Branch made sense.

We even found an old lime kiln once operated by Frank Engle on the corner of Engle Switch and Engle-Mohers road.  Jeff thought this is the place of the original Engle farm… too many Engles to ignore!

Engle Switch - Engle Molers

Lime Kiln

Lime Kiln

Ends up Engle Switch was named for the B&O branch railroad line that went to the The Washington Building and Lime Company that used a lime quarry once owned by William Engle (Son of Melchor).  William, his son-in-law and grandson continued to manage the quarry, and the unincorporated community of Engle, West Virginia is named after Frank Engle.  But this is not the original Melchor Engle farmland.


Christine would not give up, and somehow found a document on the Jefferson (West Virginia) County Register of National Historic Places that referred to the Wildwood Farm House (Romenous House).  The document includes a lot of information including:

 The Wildwood Farm house is significant for multiple reasons. Wildwood embodies distinctive characteristics of a mid- nineteenth century farmhouse from the Mid-Atlantic, Shenandoah region. Wildwood is also an excellent example of a structure constructed using typical building methods found in this area during this time period and constructed using local materials found within the region with a high level of craftsmanship. Furthermore, Wildwood is significant due to the fact that it contains a graveyard that holds the remains of General William Darke of the American Revolutionary War who married into the family who once occupied the land around the lots containing Wildwood. Also, the graveyard formally contained the oldest tombstone in West Virginia, now located in the West Virginia State museum, belonging to Caterina Bierlin.

The document also gives an Historical Context:

Wildwood Farm House, also known as “The Ronemous Place,” was built C. 1850 and documented as existing before the onset of the American Civil War in 1860. Henry Ronemous began construction of the house after his marriage to Sarah Engle in 1848. Sarah Engle would inherit the land prior to her marriage to Henry Ronemous from her family member Mary Melvin. The family members of the Engle family and the Melvin family were early settlers of this area. Also, Sarah Engle’s ancestor Melchor Engle was the original owner of the land that was granted by Thomas Lord Fairfax and would later contain the structure of Wildwood. The structure is distinctive as it is more elaborate in its construction then other less modest structures found in the same area. Wildwood is an example of Greek Revival architecture produced at the end of the styles’ movement. This type of architecture is very common to the Mid-Atlantic region especially in the area of what is now Jefferson County, W.V. Evidence to support Wildwood as a Greek Revival structure are the low pitched roof with a slight eave overhang containing a band of trim below it.

Now, that’s a YAHOO!

Christine called and left a message with the current owner of the property that afternoon.  The next day we went ahead and drove to the property to see if we could see the gravesite.

Porch Farm

Melchor’s ‘Porch Farm’

The owner of the property was very gracious, and told us that earlier this last spring the Daughters of the American Revolution had a memorial for the Revolutionary War Heros.  General William Darke and Philip Engle (Melchor’s oldest son) were recognized war veterans.  The DAR party dressed up in period dress for the ceremony.  She pointed towards a field with a herd of cows, and told us to go through the field to find the cemetery.  The cow’s were friendly (thank goodness).

Melchor Gravesite

Melchor Engle’s Gravesite

So, my 4th Great Grandfather’s brother, Philip was a Revolutionary War Hero (at least 2 other brothers were documented as serving in the war as well).  Phillip’s Sons of the American Revolution plaque reads:

Revolutionary War Soldier and Patriot
Philip Engle
Born October 8, 1742, Died November 21

Forefather of Engle Family in this area.  His wives, Mary Darke and Isabel Pollock bore 18 children

Served under General Gates in the battle of Camdon during the South Carolina campaign

Furnished Material Aid to Virginia

Marker placed by General Adam Stephen Chapter, April 30, 2016

And Melchor’s gravestone reads First Engle Settler 1750 (Melchor arrived in Virginia between 1750 and 1753).

We are so happy to not only to have found Melchor’s grave but to also stand on the property that he was granted (purchased) from Lord Fairfax.

happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry West Virginia

We are surprised how close Harpers Ferry and even Washington DC is to where Melchor Engle took his family when he moved from Lancaster Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley.

Map Of Shenandoah Junction & Harpers Ferry relationship

Almost the entire town of Harpers Ferry is part of the Harpers Ferry National Park.  We checked out the website to see if it was OK to take dogs (they are!) and drove from Front Royal where we are camping to the National Park.

Family History Perspective

Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather moved to Shenandoah Junction about 1753, his youngest son George (my 4th Great Grandfather) 3 years old.  In 1751 Harper bought the land that was to become Harpers Ferry.  George lived in Shenandoah Junction until about 1781 getting married and having his first two children there.

Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington visited Harpers Ferry in the 1780s.

George moved on to Tennessee, but other decedents of Melchor stayed on to see the events of the beginning of the Civil War unfold virtually in their back yard.

The Park

We found a place to park just outside of the town so we didn’t have to worry about taking the shuttle ride.  The town is pretty hilly so we didn’t know how the dogs would do with a long walk.  Access to the park and parking is free with the National Park senior pass.

We are visiting in November during the week so the streets are almost empty.  We walked through the town and checked out John Brown’s fort.

At the point of Harpers Ferry, the Shenandoah River and Potomac River meet.  On the bluff we have a spectacular view of the two rivers.  There are the ruins of railroad bridges, along with one bridge that is still active.

There is a walkway along the bridge, so we are able to walk from West Virginia to Maryland over the Potomac River.  The dogs were not too enthused about it, but everyone made the trip safe and sound.

The Appalachian Trail goes through Harpers Ferry too!


Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles