Descendant of 1730s property owner tours Beatty-Cramer House

Doug Claytor, center, of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, shows Phyllis Royle and her son Clark the Beatty-Cramer House off Liberty Road on Thursday afternoon. In tracing her roots, Royle discovered she is a direct descendant of the houses second recorded owner, Susanna Beatty, who bought the property in 1732.

Phyllis Royle wanted to visit the Beatty-Cramer historical house site northeast of Frederick for years.

A direct descendant of the site's second recorded owner from 1732, Royle became interested in tracking down the threads of her family lineage since she began reading the diary of one of her great-grandparents.

On Thursday, Royle, of Lufkin, Texas, arranged to tour the house with volunteers Judy Candela and Doug Claytor of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, which owns the house.

"I'm thrilled and impressed by the people who work on it, and I hope they continue that," Royle said of the foundation's efforts to maintain and preserve the structure.

One of the oldest known structures in Frederick County, the Beatty-Cramer house was built as a 20-foot-by-40-foot, H-bent timber frame building in the early 18th-century Dutch Colonial style -- a rarity in Maryland, Candela and Claytor said.

With the exception of the glass, materials for the house -- from the wood to the clay for the bricks -- likely came from local sources, they said.

The exact construction date is unknown, though Susanna Beatty, a wealthy landowner from Ulster County, N.Y., moved there with her family in 1732, 13 years before Frederick was settled.

When Beatty, already a widow for 11 years, bought 1,000 acres surrounding the house for 4 shillings an acre, the purchase made her one of the first women to own land in Maryland, Candela said. In May 1733, she bought an additional 939 acres in Frederick County.

Claytor said the original structure likely was used as a commercial space -- a tavern or meetinghouse.

In about 1855, the Cramers, a family of farmers, had an addition built onto the west side of the structure, according to the Landmarks Foundation website. Further renovations to the house were also made.

An adjacent springhouse, likely built in conjunction with the Beatty structure, and a smokehouse behind the building likely built with the Cramer renovations, are part of the site owned by the Landmarks Foundation since 1996, the website says.

The structure today looks like a run-down, two-story farmhouse.

Claytor said his goal for the Beatty-Cramer house would be to encase it, take off the exterior siding, re-create the historical structure as much as possible and use the property to teach people about the evolution of area buildings.

He even anticipated teaching students Colonial construction techniques so they might help preserve and restore other buildings.

For Royle, standing on the ground where her ancestors carved their lives from the rugged landscape marked a special occasion.

"So long ago, they blazed the way for us," she said.

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