York County’s Horn Farm: ‘A very special living history memorial to those hardy ancestors’
The Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education is putting a spotlight on “the past, present and future of York County agricultural,” according to center’s mission statement. Background posts: ‘It’s so sad to see such a great piece of architecture fall down’, York County agrarianism vs. industrialization, Part I and Part II & III.
Once upon a time, a York feed manufacturer and retailer loved land he owned in the country.
As a history published in 2000 goes, he made products that aided the agricultural community but was not a farmer himself.
But he enjoyed his Hellam Township property with its barns, fields of grain and livestock. And he loved showing it off.
He died in 1964, and 17 years later, his wife and daughters gave the farm to York County.
A sign gives his name: …
“This land presented to the county of York by the family of David Edwin Horn in his memory, June 4, 1981.”
Since then, Harley-Davidson has eyed the Horn Farm for expansion. That acquisition was averted when Harley built next door to its current plant. More recently, a fire claimed its barn. This led some, including this blogger, to advocate the pursuit of the Star Barn near Harrisburg. That barn’s eventual resting site has not been released, but it apparently won’t be on the Horn Farm.
Meanwhile, a non-profit board has organized and plans to raise funds to develop the working farm into an educational center, planning to do for agriculture what the Byrnes Health Education Center in York does for health education.
And the non-profit board is distributing an authoritative history of D.E. Horn’s landmark property, compiled and written by June Evans (released September 2000):
Evans’ “Early History of the Horn Farm” follows:
The Horn Farm tract has a long and deeply meaningful history, one that is clearly representative of the rich agricultural and cultural heritage of York County and Hellam Township. It certainly deserves to be considered as a location for a memorial to that heritage and to the role the first settlers and later occupants of York County played in establishing religious freedom, political independence and economic security in this land of rich soils and other natural resources. The Horn Farm is blessed with soils almost entirely comprised of Duffield Silt Loam, Class 1 and 2, which are deep, well-drained and capable of very high agricultural productivity. It has been farmed for over 250 years.
The Horn Farm tract can be traced back to several early warrants. The western part of the Horn Farm tract was included in one of these, from the Penns to Joseph Sultzbach in 1747, with a later survey for 270.77 acres to Joseph Sultzbach in 1793. The Sultzbach family was typical of early Germans, many of whom were persecuted in their homeland, who crossed the ocean from the Rhineland Palatinate, at the invitation of the Penns, seeking religious freedom and opportunities in America. They settled in the fertile lands west of the Susquehanna in the 1730s, where Hellam Township and York County became a haven for those escaping religious persecution. An early reference to the Sultzbachs in Hellam Township lists John Jost Sultzbach as a sponsor for a baptism at Kreutz Creek in 1741. The Sultzbach tract was adjacent to that of the Kreutz Creek Lutheran and German Reformed Church, founded in the 1740s. The Sultzbachs were active in this church, and many of the early members of the Sultzbach family are buried in the cemetery near the church.
The western part of the Horn Farm tract was included in the acreage farmed in the late 1700s and early 1800s by John Sultzbach. John was the grandson of Joseph Sultzbach, the original warrantee, and the son of Philip Sultzbach, a private in the Pennsylvania Line of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Philip is listed on the 1783 Hellam Township list of taxables as owning 184 acres, taxed at 450 pounds. After his death in 1784 his land was passed on to John. John deeded part of his holdings to his brother Henry in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Henry built a tannery on this land, which was adjacent to and immediately southwest of the present Horn Farm tract, in the vicinity of what is now the intersection of Kreutz Creek Road and Rte 462. The tannery operated throughout most of the 1800s; at Henry’s death, his son Frederick and then Frederick’s son Milton continued to run the business. Frederick was elected to the State Legislature in 1860-61, the first Republican chosen to that office from York County. Both Frederick and Milton served in the Union Army during the Civil War (Milton was Quartermaster of the 166th Regiment from York County).
Milton Sultzbach was a farmer as well as a tanner. His sister, Annie, married Byron Strickler, a farmer from a family with a long history of farming in Hellam Township. Members of the Strickler family and the Ruby family owned and farmed the western, former Sultzbach part of the Horn Farm tract for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, until the Horns acquired this 158-acre parcel from the estate of Edward D. Strickler and his widow Anna in 1943. The present house and former barn on Horn Road on the Horn Farm tract date at least to 1860; the house is shown on the 1860 Lake and Shearer map of Hellam Township as occupied by “S.[Samuel] Ruby”. Samuel Ruby and other members of the Ruby family were active in the nearby Kreutz Creek Church and are buried in the Kreutz Creek Cemetery.
The eastern part of the Horn Farm can be traced back to a Blunston License for 200 acres issued to Christian Crowl in 1736 and a later survey and patent to John Comfort in 1768. By 1783 part of this large tract was owned by Michael Rudy, an early farmer in Hellam Township. He is listed on the 1783 Hellam Township list of taxables with 190 acres, taxed at 479 pounds. After Michael Rudy’s death in 1801, and his widow Mary (Maria)’s death in 1830, his sons, especially Daniel, Jacob and Henry, continued to own and acquire land in Hellam Township. Daniel Rudy, in particular, is associated with the Horn Farm tract.
Two of the Rudy stone farmsteads along what is now Accomac/Horn Road are shown on the 1860 Lake and Shearer map of Hellam Township, marked “D.Rudy”. Neither is now on the Horn Farm tract. Daniel Rudy also owned the small parcel of land originally warranted to George Shaller in 1774 and later owned by Peter Kline, which was located between and adjoined the Sultzbach land and the larger Rudy tract. Many members of the early Rudy family are buried in the Rudy cemetery, just east of Hallam. The Rudy Schoolhouse, now a museum and headquarters of the Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society, is located nearby on Rte 462.
After Daniel Rudy’s death in 1874, the part of the Horn Farm tract held by the Rudys was sold to Zachariah K. Loucks in 1875. His name is shown on the 1876 Nichols map as associated with the two stone houses mentioned above, although he resided elsewhere. Z.K. Loucks came from a family of farmers and millers. He was a prominent businessman in York and a member of the board of directors and lifetime member of the York County Agricultural Society. The land was farmed under Loucks family ownership until 1920, after which the 137-acre parcel was held by several other owners before it was purchased in 1946 by the Horn family. One of these former owners was William W. Wogan, son of John Hay Wogan, past president of the York County Agricultural Society and grandson of George Wogan, who was one of the organizers of the Society.
David Horn was a businessman who owned and operated D.E. Horn and Company, a feed manufacturer and retailer with offices in York. Though not a farmer by trade, he loved the land he owned in Hellam Township with its barns, fields of crops and livestock, including steers and pigs. He enjoyed showing it off to others, according to Larry Gordon of Hellam Township, who was born and spent part of his childhood on the farm. David Horn died in 1964. In 1981 his wife Hattie and daughters Mildred and Marie deeded the farm to the County in his memory. A sign along Rte 30 commemorates this gift:
THIS LAND PRESENTED TO
THE COUNTY OF YORK
BY THE FAMILY OF
DAVID EDWIN HORN
IN HIS MEMORY
JUNE 4, 1981
The Horn Farm, set among other productive farm fields in Hellam Township, epitomizes the rich agricultural and cultural history of York County. Its fertile soils have been farmed ever since the first German, English and Scotch Irish settlers moved into the lands west of the Susquehanna nearly three centuries ago. It offers us the opportunity to create a very special living history memorial to those hardy ancestors – one that would have great meaning for all of us who, like David Horn, love the land.
June Evans listed the following references, which might be of general interest to those studying eastern York County history:
-Garrett, Rev. Walter E., History of the Kreutz Creek Charge of the Reformed Church (Philadelphia, 1924).
-Gibson, John, ed., History of York County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: F.A.Battey Publ. Co., 1886).
-Hively, Neal Otto, The Manor of Springettsbury, York County, PA: Its History and Early Settlers (1993).
-“Kreutz Creek Cemetery, Hellam Township, York County, PA.”. List compiled by J. and E. Heard, D. Shetter and A.E. Starner, October 3, 1934. On file at Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society.
-Lake and Shearer Atlas of York County, Pennsylvania (1860).
-Larry Gordon, personal communication.
-Nichols, Atlas of York Co., Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Pomery, Whitman & Co., 1876).
Prowell, George, R., History of York County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1 (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1907).
-“Rudy’s Burial Ground (Cemetery) (just east of Hellam), Hellam Township, York County, PA.” List collected by Edith Cannon and Alice Starner, Summer 1932. On file at Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society.
-Soil Survey of York County, PA (1963).
-York County Land Records, Deed Books.
-York Daily Record, May 18, 2000.
-York County Heritage Trust