The Schifferstadt site, 18FR134, is associated with an extant stone house built by the Brunner family ca. 1756-1758. The Brunners were among the German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the first half of the eighteenth century who decided to take advantage of cheap land available in Western Maryland. Joseph Brunner arrived in Philadelphia by 1728 and he sent for his wife and children shortly thereafter. Initially, the family settled with other German immigrants in the Lancaster, PA area, but in 1746 Joseph Brunner purchased 303 acres of land just west of Frederick Town, Maryland.
It is unclear whether Joseph Brunner improved the 303-acre tract, but he may have seen it as an investment for his children. In 1753 he sold the property to his youngest son, Elias Brunner, for 200 pounds sterling. It was during Elias’ tenure that the stone house, measuring about 30’ x 40’, was erected at the Schifferstadt site. In 1771, Elias sold the house and farm to his niece’s husband Christopher Myers for 1500 pounds sterling, a price that reflected the increased value of the property that came with the stone house. The Myers family owned the site until 1843, when it sold to Christian Steiner, whose wife was one of Christopher Myers’ granddaughters. Although the property remained in the family, the Steiners seem to have treated it as a real-estate investment. They lived in Frederick while tenants resided at Schifferstadt.
In 1900, Steiner’s heirs sold the land to Edward C. Krantz. He and his family actually lived on the property and made significant improvements. By the mid-20th century, major changes had visited the Schifferstadt farm. The widow Bessie Krantz, who inherited the house in 1942, made part of her income by renting out part of the house. Over the next 30 years, the population of Frederick grew, the town expanded, and infrastructure and development surrounded what was left of the original farm. In 1974, The Frederick County Landmarks Commission (FCLC) purchased the house, which by then conveyed with a lot of only 1.5 acres. The house is now open to the public as the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum.
When the FCLC purchased the Schifferstadt house, archaeological and architectural surveys were undertaken to assist plans for its rehabilitation. A number of test units were excavated under the structure and in its immediate outer vicinity to assess disturbance and collect information prior to new construction efforts. Additional shovel tests were placed in the yard prior to the addition of a new underground power line in 1975. Two field schools also tested the yard area in the 1980s, though little information is available about findings from these efforts.
In 1995 more formal excavations were undertaken by ACS Consultants to assist the FCLC in planning for preservation efforts. This study included 220 shovel tests and the equivalent of 16 5’ x 5’ test units. Several features were identified, including a well, a privy, and a 13’ x 13’ smokehouse. The well was not excavated, but oral history from the Krantz family indicates that the above-ground well walls were removed and the well was filled when city water reached the site in the early 1940s. The similarity of the limestone used to build the well to limestone in the house foundation suggest that the well was originally built during the Brunner period of occupation. The privy also seems to have been built by the Brunners using the same limestone. The substantial foundation for the privy indicates that it was meant to last, so it was periodically cleaned out and reused over time. The privy excavation suggests that it was last filled during a tenant occupation in the mid-19th century. The smokehouse may also date to the Brunner occupation, but disturbances in the surrounding area make this difficult to confirm. Many of the artifacts recovered around the smokehouse are similar to those found in the privy and some artifacts from the two features even cross mend.
Summary by Sara Rivers Cofield
|Ballweber, Hettie, Lori Frye, Justine McKnight, Edward Otter, Paula Mask, and Eric Jenkins
|History and Archaeology at the Schifferstadt Site (18FR134), Frederick, Maryland. ACS Consultants report submitted to the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, Inc. On file at the Maryland Historical Trust.
The Schifferstadt archaeological collection is owned by the Maryland Historical Trust and curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.