Carroll County and The Methodist Movement
Strawbridge Log Meeting House
Carroll County is the birthplace of American Methodism. On a farm four miles from New Windsor along the Sam's Creek in what was then Frederick County, Robert and Elizabeth Strawbridge settled their family around 1760. They were immigrants from Ireland who were drawn to the New World. The farm was leased from a respected Quaker, John England. England would become, in June 1766, the first member of another denomination to transfer membership into the Methodist movement. (The Strawbridge farm is now a United Methodist Shrine, and is open to the public. In addition to the original Strawbridge home (much renovated), the original John Evans home has been moved to the site and rebuilt. A replica of the first Methodist Meetinghouse has been constructed.)
The Strawbridges became Methodists while living in Drumsna, Ireland in the 1750s. Records indicate Methodist activity in that town as early as 1753, and John Wesley visited the place three times between 1758 and 1762. The enthusiastic lay-oriented movement caught the imagination and spirit of Robert, so that shortly after his family's settlement in New Windsor he began holding religious meetings in his home. Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop, wrote in his Journal after a visit to the Strawbridge home in 1801, "Here Mr. Strawbridge formed the first society in Maryland - and America."
A neighbor, John Evans and his family, became the first American converts to Methodism in the mid-1760s. By 1768, Evans was leading the "Pipe Creek Society" in his home near Taylorsville, which was built specially to accommodate his family and the society meetings.
The first Methodist Meeting House was built a short distance from the Strawbridge property near the present community of Marston sometime between 1764 and 1766. Numerous Methodist Societies were founded and Methodist meetinghouses built within the present boundaries of Carroll County before the end of the 18th century. Some of these, like that of our ancestors who met at the home of John Allgire and then at Brown's Meeting House, were Methodist-based societies ministering to people of various faiths. (Much of the information for this article was secured from Baker, 1972.)
Social and Economic Conditions
In the 1770s when our founding fathers came to the area now known as Houcksville and Wesley Church, it was barren country -barren of people and of homes. The land was uncultivated and settlers had to clear trees in order to build homes and plant crops.
These pioneers were the sons and daughters of immigrants from many other countries. John Brown's father had come from England and had settled in the Westminster area. George Ebaugh's father had arrived at Philadelphia from Switzerland then migrated to what is now the Shiloh area west of Hampstead. William Chenoweth's family was from England, and John Allgire's roots were in Germany.
The pioneers built their homes of logs. Later, stones from the fields were used. Before bricks were being hand made in this country, the only brick available would be from ballast used on a ship.
Farming was the principal occupation. But many talents were needed in order to survive. Blacksmiths, millers, and laborers came to the area. These early families were largely self-sufficient. They raised their own meat and vegetables, made their own clothes, candles, furniture, had their own orchards and provided all necessities they could for themselves. They relied on their neighbors for companionship outside the family and help in case of emergency. They relied on the land and on God to supply the well-being for their crops and themselves. Grist mills were built to grind grain for flour. The 1862 map shows that Houck's Store was one of the earliest stores. This was almost one hundred years after the first settlers arrived.
There were no physicians, but there were many epidemics. It was not unusual to have families of ten to fifteen children. A large percentage of the children in some families died at birth or at an early age from injury or sickness. These surviving sons and daughters were needed to help on the farm.
Family burial grounds on the farm were the custom before church grave yards were available. The early graves were marked with a field stone (native stone) set on its edge into the ground. Sometimes initials were carved into the stone. Many of these early family burial grounds have now disappeared.
Transportation was by horseback, horse and wagon, or walking. It was more than one hundred years until the railroad come to the area and even later that automobiles were invented. In 1907 the Trustees of Wesley Chapel were still planting hitching posts. The paths from one community to another and from one neighbor to another later became roads. Houcksville Road progressed from dirt to stones in the 1920s.
Communication from one place to another was slow, if accomplished at all. In 1800 a Post Office was established in Westminster, and in 1818 in Hampstead. Houck's Store became the nearest post office in 1849.
The biggest industry in the area besides the grist and saw mills was the Hoffman Paper Mill established about 1845. Brown wrapping paper was made from straw and shipped by horse and wagon, and later by railroad, to Baltimore.
Early official records are spotty, but the earliest tax assessment was in 1783 and the earliest Federal Census was taken in 1790. Carroll County was established in 1837 from portions of Baltimore and Frederick Counties. The Wesley area, was then located in the Pipe Creek Hundred of Baltimore County. Land deeds of that time period give us the men's names only, unless they sold some land. Then after signing the documents the woman was taken aside to another room and asked if she agreed to this sale taking place. This permission was written at the end of the deed and usually her name was mentioned.
The early Family Bible records provide the most complete records about the settlers. Many of the Bible records are written in German or whatever the native language was until a family member learned to write in English. Formal education started in the area in the mid-1800s, about eighty years after the first families arrived.
As early as 1820 some of the children of these founding families left home to be pioneers themselves in the unsettled areas westward to Ohio. This Westward movement continued for many more generations. Was this area becoming too civilized for them? Or were they in search of adventure? Maybe they moved West because their parents had proved it could be done.
Home Class Meetings
Home of John Allgire
It is not possible to establish the time when the first Methodist Class Meeting was held in the community now served by Wesley United Methodist Church. It is certain that such meetings were held as early as 1787 in the home of John Allgire and that this home continued to be the center of activity for the Methodist-based society until the Brown's Meeting House was built in 1800.
John Allgire was born about 1745. It is very likely that his father was John Allgire I, who lived south of Pikesville at Seven Mile Lane, the only known Allgire in Maryland at this time. John Allgire I had been born in Germany and probably migrated to America by 1750. He was an Innkeeper and tailor. In his will, probated May 27, 1764, he mentions a son John. There is good reason to believe that this John Allgire is ours and that his brother Jacob migrated to this area from Pikesville by the 1760s and founded what is now St. Paul's Lutheran Church at nearby Arcadia, MD. Following the death of his father in 1764, John probably came to live with his brother Jacob at Arcadia. Records show that John did not stay at the family business in Pikesville, and that his sister and brother-in-law did continue to be Innkeepers.
No records have been found to identify the wife of John Allgire. Thomas W. Buchman's genealogical records identify her as Ruth Brown. Also in John Brown's will, probated in 1810, he mentions his daughter Ruth Allgire. This is the same John Brown on whose land Brown's Meeting House was built. John Allgire and Ruth Brown were married about 1768.
The Allgire name has been spelled many ways, including Allgier, Algier, Algire, Allgire, Allgeyer, Allguier, Alguire, Algair, Algaier and Alkries. This was due to the fact that John Allgire could not sign his name in English and was therefore at the mercy of the person writing the document, such as the census, will, land deed, or tax assessment.
John Allgire's first land was purchased in 1774. It contained thirty-two acres and was called "Allgire's Beginning." The 1783 Tax List of Baltimore County, Pipe Creek Hundred, lists John Allgire as owning one hundred seventy-nine acres of land called "Ribbles (Rivel, Ribolts) Folly." The Federal Tax Assessment of 1798 for Baltimore County lists John Allgire as owning four hundred fifty-one acres, "Ribbles Folly." The description was given as follows: Hew'd Log Dwelling House of one and one-half story, twenty-five feet by twenty-two feet by addition of shed twenty-two feet by ten feet; other improvements Log Barn thirty-six feet by twenty-two feet, Log Cornhouse twenty-two feet by twelve feet and Log Smoke House fourteen feet by twelve feet.
The home was built of logs with the main room containing a cooking area, eating area, and sitting area. This room had a cellar under it and was sixteen by twenty-one feet. The foundation (cellar) still exists as the foundation for a summer house built on it in 1888. Attached to the back of this room was a one story lean-to addition of approximately nine by twenty-one feet which contained two bedrooms. Above the main room were two bedrooms in the loft, this being a one and one-half story structure. Class Meetings were held in the main room. The house faced south.
The farm, located about one-half mile northwest of Wesley Church, is presently owned by Everett Allgire Davidson and his wife, Julia. Everett is a great, great, great grandson of John Allgire. The old stone smoke house, ten by twelve feet that at one time had ovens for baking attached to it, is still standing and in good condition. This may be the "log" smoke house mentioned in the 1798 Assessment.
John Allgire and his wife had nine children. Their names and genealogical information are listed in Appendix A of this book. Many of the families are ancestors of present members of Wesley Church and Community.
The 1813 Tax Assessment for Baltimore County, Election District number three, shows that John Allgire owned five hundred eleven and one-half acres. His tracts were "Moses Meadows," "Brown's First Attempt," part of "Hales Venture," and part of "Point Look Out." "Allgires Beginning" was included under the name, "Point Lookout," and "Ribbles Folly" under "Moses Meadows."
John Allgire died in 1834 and his wife about 1840. His will mentioned all nine children including his sons John and Jacob who had moved west to Ohio before 1826. Most of his land was willed to his sons Henry and Nicholas. Henry received the property on which he was already farming and residing, now the property of Wilson and Rosemary Lippy. Nicholas received his father's homestead and all the land surrounding it. When Nicholas died in 1870 the homestead was broken up into sections and sold at public auction. The largest section, which included the homestead, was sold to Frederick Basler. The newspaper advertisement described the location of the property as "on the road from Winchesters Mill (Carrollton) to Brown's Meeting House."
It is believed that John Allgire and his family are buried on the Allgire property. Prior to his son Nicholas' death, a plat was made which showed the location of the homestead and a family burial ground in a field behind the house. Unfortunately, the native stones used as grave markers bear no initials or inscriptions of any kind.
There is good evidence that both Francis Asbury and Robert Strawbridge preached at Allgire's as they traveled from Sam's Creek to points north and east. It was customary to arrive on any day of the week. Runners (young boys) were sent out on horseback to notify the people when the worship service was to be held. If it happened on a weekday the farmers would stop their work and attend the services. This kind of scheduling existed for many years after Brown's Meeting House was built. The preaching appointment was known as "Allgires" and continued to be known in this manner for a time even after the Meeting House was built, as we can see from the Plan of Great Falls Circuit written by Gerard Morgan, pastor 1811-12 to be given to his successor David Stevens:
"Thursday, April 14, 1812, rode from Vaughns (Hampstead) to John Allgires. Had service at Allgires on Friday, April 15 at eleven o'clock."
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