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 (findagrave.com). 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!
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.
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).
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
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