Where's Thomas?

Town Creek south from the V.F.W. site

Town Creek valley looking south from the V. F. W. Property

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today let's get analytical. This far back in time I can only hope for an occasional fact to hang onto. Just establishing a relationship between generations becomes a task; there are no extra pieces of commentary like obituaries.

I started this morning in the library just west of Cumberland, at beautiful Frostburg State University, whose extensive collection of genealogical materials was in most ways inferior to what is available in Madison at the Wisconsin State Historical Society. But much of what I had learned there needed to be looked at again, as when I had gone through it (last April and May) I didn't know what I had recently learned. It was only two weeks ago that I surreptitiously discovered a state of Maryland site where one could view (i.e. see PDF images of original documents) land deeds. It is an interesting statement about our society that, while keeping track of persons with birth and death certificates has only been common for the last one hundred years, keeping track of land has always been important. So I was able to discover in Allegany County the deed selling 110 acres of "Crabtree Folly" by John Perrin of Bedford County Pennsylvania, to Thomas Perrin (whom it is reasonable to believe was his son) in 1803. This land was later sold by Thomas to his two sons, James K. (remember him?) and Upton Perrin. Upton apparently died in the 1840's, and the last mention of this family in the deed books is when James K. sold portions of the land to two others in the 1850's. He was the last of my direct family left in Maryland, and preparing to move on with his family at that time.

But where was Crabtree Folly? The first real hint was in the deed books. In 1835 or thereabouts another portion of that original land deed (when Crabtree bought it from Maryland, it was over 350 acres) was sold by the Shryocks, and Jane French, to James K., Upton, as well as Isaiah McLaughlin and some others, "for the purpose of erecting a Methodist Episcopal Church". The land was described as being on Town Creek Road.

Town Creek Valley, 2007

Town Creek Valley, 2007. Enhanced from Google Maps

Town Creek Valley, 1895

Town Creek Valley, from an 1895 map

These two maps, from 2007 and 1895, should provide general orientation. In both you can identify Old Town on the Potomac River, and Flintstone further north. The name Old Town apparently reflects the fact that there was an Indian town there before Cresap settled it in the 1740s. The major creek entering the Potomac to the east of the town is therefore named Town Creek.

To narrow things down from here, I thought about neighbors. The 1810 census shows Thomas Perrin living 5 entries away from William McLaughlin. The McLaughlin's still live in the area, about two miles out of Oldtown about where the R. in Saw Pitt R. is on the 1895 map. But that didn't work well. Looking forward in the deed records, the Shryocks are selling portions of Crabtree Folly in 1893. Then it is located on Town Road in the Flintstone district (colored red in the above map). But then there is Crab Tree Run on the map above, definitely south of the Flintstone district.

Fortunately today I was able to find another clue. There is a history written in 1909 by Hilary Wilson about the Flintstone area. He was at least 60 then. He makes a few references to the Perrins, notably Lennox ('a great story teller') but also to Thomas. "Thomas Perrin, said to be a brother of John and Joseph, lived on Town Creek, just below the Denton Bucy farm." So after leaving Frostburg this morning, I went searching for a book store who could give me a decent map of the county, and after driving through all of Frostburg and Cumberland to no avail (well, one avail: by staying off the interstate and on the old U.S. 40 I was able to enter Cumberland through the old National Road Gap) I set off for Old Town, intending to drive up Town Creek Road and find some more clues.

The first try was not that easy. I missed the turn for Lower Town Creek Road, and couldn't turn around for about two miles. Going north I passed the area where the McLaughlin's now live

view from Lower Town Creek road

Lower Town Creek Road, looking west

There never was any land flatter than this. Even allowing for the fact that there was 100 years of forest regrowth, it was hard to imagine anyone wanting to farm here, even then. But after about 6 miles, when the road reached the Creek and had crossed twice, it came to a sputtering halt.

So time for plan B. The AAA map that I had showed that there was a road from Old Town to Flintstone, so I went to it. This would be Bear Hill Road, which went up the hill and back down, ending up at what the Google map above calls Pumpkin Center. This was just a junction, but a three way junction of my road from the west, and Town Creek Road. The right (south) fork stated that the road was closed. So I was back on track. What followed as I went north was the nicest valley I could imagine, with large flat areas next to the creek. I passed a house with a mailbox labeled Buzer. Could this be the spelling for Bucy now? So I took a picture.

Upper Town Creek Road, looking north

Upper Town Creek Road, looking north. The Creek is on the right

Another half mile and the road made two 90 degree turns, at the site of the "OldTown V. F. W. Park". There was a small picket-fenced area behind it. So I stopped, figuring if I am going to get shot it should at least be on V. F. W. land, and walked over to it.

V. F. W. Park

The Oldtown V. F. W. Park

Bucy family cemetery

Bucy Family Cemetery, just north of the V. F. W. Park

It was the Bucy family cemetery. Only one stone was less than one hundred years old. The mercurial Cumberland Historical Cemetery Organization was proudly maintaining it now.

From there drove to Flintstone, 4.7 miles by these roads, through several more beautiful areas of pasture and corn. Then back in the fast lane to return to Cumberland.

Since being back to the hotel I have pulled a few other pieces of information off the web, which are more or less helpful. The first is a section of a 1900 topographical map of the region.

1900 Topographic map of Town Creek

Town Creek, from the 1900 Topographic Map

It shows where Bear Hill Road intersects the Town Creek Road at Bear Hollow. This map also defines the county districts. Flintstone district is to the north of the dark dashed line. Notice the two right angled turns in Town Creek Road just above the location name.

The last map shows what the Allegany Genealogical Society thinks about property owners in the county circa 1860

Modern diagram of 1860 property owners, town creek

Modern diagram of nineteenth century town creek property owners

The intersection of Bear Hill Road and Town Creek Road on this map is marked by S.H., which I presume means school house. Denton Bucy is placed just to the south, and lo! we have L. S. Shryock (remember Shryock?) here too. But these locations would be in the Oldtown, not the Flintstone district. Meanwhile, what did Hilary Wilson mean when he said Thomas Perrin lived "down" from Denton Bucy?

I personally believe that Bucy is misplaced here; he should be closer to the cemetery, and the pictures I have are of Thomas Perrin's portion of Crabtree Folly. But perhaps some more obsessive deed tracing will show that.