Sunday, February 10, 2013

Black Sheep Sunday: The Counterfiting Twins

At 94 years young, Mom is my hero for a lot of reasons. She's been doing genealogy since the 1970s and has done an amazing job of it and works on it almost every day. I love her stories and this is the one that really got me hooked on genealogy. Enjoy! DKW

Our Scamps and Scoundrels: The Counterfeiting Twins
By Virginia Williams Kelly.

(As seen in The Old Pike Post, Genealogical Society of Allegany County, Maryland, Vol. 29, No. 3, September 2012, Cumberland Maryland.)
Every family has their fair share of ancestor scallywags. Family history enthusiasts respond in various ways: a few are ashamed as though their long-ago relative had anything much to do with their own reputations. Most enthusiastically embrace the inappropriate behavior as an interesting twist to the fabric of life. After all, we weren’t there and we don’t know all the facts and events. So let the legends of our scamps and scoundrels of long ago live on and enjoy a moment in the sun of our curiosity about them!

On May 7, 1984, I copied the following episode from the Frostburg Mining Journal. It was on microfilm at Frostburg State University, Microfilm No. per an 4899 F75F7, 1890-1895. It tells the story of two House ancestors who got in a mite of trouble. My mother was Emma Whetstone Williams and the two subjects of this article were her cousins, Edward and Joseph House, twins born February 16, 1868. But it all turned out alright in the end. Read on and see how.

Saturday 28 June 1890
Constable Owen England arrested Joseph House on Monday as an accomplice of his brother Edward House who was arrested last Saturday on the charge of passing counterfeit  money. It is alleged that the bogus money was passed in Eckhart on May 23 and was in $1 coins made of block tin. The twins were given a hearing before U.S. Commissioner Henderson and Edward admitted having made 14 pieces of the bogus money, molded from an impression in plaster of Paris but said that Joseph did not know they were counterfeit, Both were committed for the action of the U.S. Grand Jury and taken to Baltimore Yesterday.

Saturday 05 July 1890
Monday morning Alexander Phillips and sheriff David Walker of Cumberland, Owen England of Frostburg, James Brady of Washington Mines, Samuel Logsdon and Mrs. Ann Logsdon both of Clarysville, Mrs. Schmeider and Miss Mary Schmeider of Eckhart left for Baltimore to appear before the U.S. Grand Jury, in the case of Edward and Joseph House charged with making and passing counterfeit money. They will have to make the trip again, probably in September to attend the trial.

Saturday 13 September 1890
Deputy Marshall Charles H. Keller was in town Thursday summoning witnesses in the House counterfeit case which will begin the U.S. Court in Baltimore next Monday. Owen England, Mrs. Schmeider, Miss Mary Schmeider and S.Y. Logsdon and wife will attend on behalf of the government. For the defense, Messers. Joseph Bear, C.F. Michael, Henry Spitnas, J.E. Whetstone, John R. Davis and Mrs. Rosa House will appear.

Saturday 20 September 1890: (Edward Said He Did It!)
The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday gives the following account of the trial of local interest.
Joseph House and Edward House of Allegany County were tried in the U.S. District Court for passing several $1 counterfeit coins in saloons. They are brothers. Edward took the guilt on himself and testified that he made the counterfeit and gave some of the base money to his brother who did not know of its spurious character. The jury found Edward guilty and Joseph not guilt. Edward was sentences to nine (9) months in jail and $100 fine. Joseph is married and while District Attorney Esnor and District Attorney Hayes were pleading the young wife of Joseph sat with her arms around her husband’s neck, weeping.

The rest of the story
So, because Joseph was married, his brother, Edward, took the blame and did the time because he was a single man! You might be wondering what became of Edward Francis House after he served time in jail.

He was released about 1891 and married Martha Edith Denison in 1892. The 1900 census finds him living in Frostburg, Allegheny County, MD with 3 children.

By the 1910 census he is living in Addison Township, Somerset County PA and is listed as a minister. Rev. House received his quarterly conference license in Conemaugh in 1908 and his annual license in 1915 at Mt. Pleasant,  PA. In 1919 he was ordained at Tyrone by Bishop William M. Bell and this became his life’s work. By this time he had five children: Carrie, Hazel, Eva, Clyde, and Ruth.

Rev. House was the pastor of Greenwood Untied Brethren Church in Altoona PA. When he took this pastorate it was just a small church not much suited to his flock’s needs. He went to work securing a new church which was built and dedicated on September 12, 1926, pictured below. The corner stone is dedicated to Rev. Edward House. Find the church today at 1505 East Walton Avenue, Altoona PA.

On October 21, of that very same year tragedy struck the family and Rev. Edward Francis House and his wife were both critically injured in an automobile accident. They both died on October 21st. 

Greenwood Untied Brethren Church


  1. I just wanted to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hey Jana-- Thanks so much for the mention! And Mom thanks you too:) She'll be thrilled to hear. You'd just love her: at 94 she's cute as a bug. You're the best!!
      Cheers, Diane