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Campaign to save the Hoke House, which was a Confederate campsite

WiestThe Hoke House is a familiar sight to the thousands of people who travel on PA Route 116 through Spring Grove, Pa. each day. Situated at the traffic circle, it has served as a tavern (dating back to the American Revolution era), a private home, the Spring Grove library, and other commercial uses.  It dates from at least 1750. (photo by Scott Mingus in 2008.)

Back in June 1863, a wealthy farmer named Wiest owned it. On Saturday, June 27, 1863, more than 275 Confederate cavalrymen camped on the property, which then was a sprawling farm. Their commander was a Poolesville, Maryland, planter named Lt. Col. Elijah V. White. The men of the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry hailed from both Virginia and Maryland, and they arrived in the late afternoon after raiding Hanover and then Hanover Junction earlier in the day. White’s men used the Wiest farm as a base, traversing the region for fresh horses, which they procured (either by theft or through the expenditure of worthless Confederate currency) and then pastured in Wiest’s meadows along with their own steeds. White’s brother, the battalion’s quartermaster, paid Wiest for a large supply of oats to help feed the hungry animals. The Rebels rode off to York after their overnight stay.

Now the house is in sad shape and has been the object of a campaign to save it. Owned by the Rutter’s corporation, a deal has been reached to bring the structure back to required code and to but time for a buyer to emerge. Otherwise, Rutter’s will raze it in the future. I salute both the tireless members of the committee who have worked to save the structure, as well as the officials of Rutter’s who are willing to negotiate. Rutter’s, you just picked up more of my business with this decision!

Here are the details on how you can help save the structure, including a special offer from me when you purchase one of my popular local history books.

Hoke farmThis area has really changed over the past 50 years!!! (Spring Grove Historical Society)

1) Here is message from the committee:

The borough agreed to give the Friends of Hoke House until the end of December to work on the historic tavern so it’s not an eyesore for the motorists passing by its highly visible location on the traffic circle in Spring Grove. Rutters agreed to give the Friends of Hoke House 3 years to find a suitable tenant. This win-win-win agreement is a first step in an answer to prayer for many of us who felt that there just had to be a way to preserve a building with such great historical significance.

As soon as the Friends of Hoke House reach just $5000 in donations, the Spring Grove Area Historical Preservation Society has agreed to contribute $5000 to match it. That’s not a lot of money but the funds are needed right away to complete this critical first step by the end of the month. If you can help a little, or a lot, please send your tax-deductible donation to Preservation PA, 257 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 and write “Hoke House’ in the memo line.

2) Second, because I cover this historic house and White’s escapades in the Spring Grove region in quite some detail in my book, Flames Beyond Gettysburg, I will personally donate $5 directly to the Preservation PA group for the Hoke House for EVERY copy of Flames I sell between now and the end of the year. Contact me at or LIKE the book’s page on Facebook and then leave a comment and I will make sure you get a book. They are only $20 including PA sales tax (postage will be $3 per book), and again, $5 of this goes directly to the organization. Get your order in quickly!


Most the farm which Elijah White visited has already been lost to history, but the house is the focal point and centerpiece. Let’s pitch in and help save it! Send a tax deductible donation now and/or purchase a copy of Flames Beyond Gettysburg!