Capt. William Frey and his Springettsbury Farm
The dotted lines show the 1901 property boundary for the 49-acre farm of Captain William Frey in Springettsbury Township, York County, PA. The farm was located near Alpine Road and north of Ridgewood Road; extending uphill to the present Rocky Ridge Park boundary. The property boundary is plotted as a dotted line on an historic aerial photo taken September 15, 1937. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
On and off, I’m working on a long-range connected draft map project. To do this, I go from neighbor to neighbor, as noted on deeds, in the late 1800s; obtaining neighboring deeds and after plotting the metes and bounds boundaries, fit the parcels together with historic aerial photos many times verifying draft map placement. For each property, I’ll note the owner(s), as of April 20, 1891; i.e. the day Springettsbury Township was established. The result will be a Connected Draft Map of the Initial Springettsbury Township Property Owners on April 20, 1891.
Last week I was working on a Ridgewood Road deed, which recorded a neighboring property owned by William Frey. A William Frey deed of 1901 had the corresponding neighbor match, therefore it was ripe for further evaluation. The deed was on page 302 of York County Recorder of Deeds Book 12K. On April 1, 1901, William Frey and his wife Elizabeth sold their 49-acre property in Springettsbury Township to Anna Louisa Harnish of Chicago, Illinois. The deed notes that William Frey acquired this property in several segments between 1868 and 1870; when this land was still part of Spring Garden Township.
William Frey is one of the entries within the Biographical Sketches in John Gilson’s 1886 History of York County, PA. That entry provides additional details; quoting from page 189:
William Frey was born February 7, 1834, a son of George and Mary (Spangler) Frey. Mr. Frey is the pioneer of the Spring Garden Band, starting in 1855, and held the leadership over twenty-three years. He took the band into the United States service, and it served one year as regimental band of the Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers. He also held the office of Treasurer of York County, having been elected in 1876, and having served three years. He is the owner of forty-nine acres of finely improved land, and raises vegetables, fruit, etc., for market. He makes a specialty of bee culture.
Shearers 1860 Map of York County, PA, has no one living near this property. The trees were likely not cleared until William Frey started to acquire ownership in 1868. The farmhouse and barn, shown on the 1937 aerial photo, were likely built ca 1870. The barn was torn down in the 1940s, however the farmhouse still stands; with several additions. This photo of the ca 1870 farmhouse, at 3937 Ridgewood Road, was taken last week: looking uphill from Ridgewood Road.
Beach Nichols 1876 Atlas of York County, PA, records the occupant at this location as “Wm Fry.” The Fry spelling is possibly the reason the owner of this property is often (incorrectly) cited as not from this area. On the contrary, property deeds, census records, newspaper articles, articles in both Gibson and Prowell Histories of York County, and estate records all are consistent in use of the Frey spelling and key biographical details are a match between “William Frey” and “Captain William Frey.”
From these sources it is noted that William Frey was born February 7, 1834, in Freystown, at the site of the “New Wilmer Hotel;” which is now the eastern part of the City of York. He married Elizabeth Boeckel on December 24, 1854. Their children are: William B. Frey, Flora M. Rouse, Ferdinand C. Frey, Emma E. Christine, George T. Frey, Katie M. Frey, Anna M. Crumling, Robert E. Frey, Mollie E. Fisher, Hattie M. Frey, and Harry S. Frey. Captain William Frey and Elizabeth moved to Hallam Borough in 1901. Elizabeth died in 1906 and William died in 1926; they are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, Springettsbury Township.
“Belvidere” was the name Captain William Frey gave to his 49-acre farm in Springettsbury Township. The collections of the York County Heritage Trust contain an old photo with the printed caption: “BELVIDERE: Residence of Capt. Wm. Frey, Springettsbury Twp., York Co., Pa.”
Springettsbury Township was established from the northeast part of Spring Garden Township on April 20, 1891. On April 1, 1901, the Frey farm is sold to Anna Louisa Harnish of Chicago, Illinois. The photo is likely from sometime between those years; i.e. circa 1895. The age and fragility of the backing board with the caption suggest this might have been put together for use in a publication, possibly to advertise this secluded, southern exposure, hillside farm, with a nice view, for sale. Maybe that is how someone from Chicago ended up buying the property.
During Prohibition, the house was a speakeasy. On the top porch was a five-pointed star made of green light bulbs. The star was turned on to let customers know the “coast was clear.” Turk Pierce, former Editorial Page Editor of The York Dispatch, spent his early childhood in this house from 1940 to 1951. The star with the green light bulbs was initially turned on as a Christmas decoration until later learning about the real history of that star.
Related posts include:
- Capt. William Frey and the Spring Garden Band
- Illustrating a walking route to Miller’s One-Room Schoolhouse
- Dr. Louis V. Williams a Springettsbury Township benefactor