Friday, March 30, 2012

Murder? Theft? Bribery?

Yesterday I posted that it finally struck me like a bolt of lightning how facebook can be used for genealogy when I joined the group, "Descendants of George Adam Eckhart of Eckhart, MD". Rich, bless him, created the group March 22, just eight days ago and already the group has almost 20 cousins.

But the most extraordinary thing is that we're sharing family history. And photos too... you know me, I love the photos... but this story takes the cake!!!

There's always been an oral history story in my Eckhart line about how the Consolidation Coal Company, the Consol, "stole" the Eckhart land from the family. Their man, "Jenkins", supposedly went to the county court house and paid a clerk to make one (or more) of the parcel deeds "disappear". It's hard, I would imagine, to get evidence to substantiate that claim now. I think at one point Mom did try to go and look to no avail. So I doubted the story or at least just chalked it up to family legend and lore. But here's a twist!

Here's what Rich posted to the Eckhart facebook group and it's very interesting indeed! And sorry about the font size craziness... I just copied and pasted and it went berserk:)

I was just reading some of the "history" of the Eckharts on the Genealogy web site. Here is an excerpt: "The original Eckhart farm was 600+ acres extending into what is now Frostburg. The Eckhart mansion stood close to where the McDonald's and Food Lion are in Frostburg now. There is actually a saw mill there now.

Nearby there are some small cottages built on rock foundations; those were the slave quarters. Everything was left to John, & he became quite a wealthy man. Harry said Matthew St. Claire Clark bought the Eckhart land. John Edwin Eckhart said a man by the name of Jenkins ended up with Consolidation Coal Co., and they bought out the Eckhart Farm".
Interesting reading, but I think a few facts were left out.

From research that I did, the Eckhart farm was indeed sold to Matthew St. Claire Clark, in 1835. The land was purchased from Mary Eckhart. The excerpt does not include the fact that her "wealthy" husband and her oldest son, had both died within 5 days of the sale.

It seems Mr St. Claire Clark, who was the Washington D.C. based attorney for The Consolidated Coal Co. of New York, was also privy to the fact that the land contained the largest vein of coal ever found in Maryland. Mr St. Claire Clark had authorized the production and publication of a book which described in detail the minerals located within "our new land purchase in Eckhart, Maryland". The book was published shortly after the purchase of the land. So shortly after, that it seems Mr. St Claire Clark had to have his geologists working on the land before they even owned it.

Finding the mother lode of coal in 1835 was like finding the mother lode of gold in 1849. Who knows how many people lost their lives in the name of greed? I believe John and his son did.
Today's photo from my archive, the town of Eckhart Maryland taken about 1909:

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