Dale-Engle-Walker House

House History

THE DALES

Samuel Dale, a 42-year-old Scots-Irish immigrant, had settled for a few years on the western side of the newly-opened Susquehanna Valley before eventually buying this 137-acre farm in 1785.

The House

Within eight years, a handsome four-room limestone house fronted the original log cabin erected about twenty years earlier. The new structure was appropriate for a person of Dale’s political and social position as his neighbors repeatedly elected him to the state legislature.

The house’s “ell” section was built onto the western backside about forty years later. The porch was added in the 1880s.

Slavery

The Dales were one of a handful of local families who kept their slaves until Pennsylvania completely abolished slavery in 1847.  The Dale-Engle-Walker House was not a stop along the Underground Railroad, although there are other documented sites in central Pennsylvania and throughout the Susquehanna Valley.

An audio station by the basement hearth tells the story of Dinah, the domestic slave owned by Mrs. Anne Futhey Dale.  The house tour includes the original hearth, furnished with period cooking implements, where Dinah would have prepared family meals.

 

 

 The Library

Dale’s library, as listed in his will, reflected his eclectic interests - from politics, history, and religion to agriculture, literature, science, and the arts – an extraordinary range for someone living on this remote frontier. His descendants continued to live and farm here for another fifty years before renting it out to a succession of tenant farmers well into the 20th century.

THE ENGLES

Jacob and Maude Engle, first-generation children of German immigrants, bought the property from Dale's descendants in 1929. Six years later, they and their ten children began operating the Dale’s Ridge Dairy until 1944, before they eventually sold the farm in 1957. Jacob Engle was also the first farmer in Buffalo Township to control soil erosion by using contour farming techniques.

 

The original barn burned in the mid-1930s; its replacement collapsed sixty years later. Only the limestone foundation walls remain. The Engles had no electricity or indoor plumbing except for services to the outbuildings where needed. A chicken house and a woodshed (pictured below on the hill behind Ruth Engle) stood just north and west of the house. A nearby buzz saw cut firewood before the boys rolled logs downhill to the house. 

 

The six boys slept on three bunk beds in the big bedroom, while the four girls doubled up in the back "ell" bedroom.

THE WALKERS

Ralph Charles Walker, a Bucknell professor, moved in with his wife Rosemary, modernized the house, and raised some cattle here from 1957 until 200. Charlie and Rosie also bred and trained beagles as guide dogs for the visually impaired. Their estate not only deeded the property to the Union County Historical Society, their conservation easement, one of Pennsylvania's earliest, preserves and protects this landmark property. A group of stakeholders representing UCHS, the Merrill Linn Conservancy, and the Seven Mountains Audubon Society is responsible for maintaining the house, farmstead and nature trail.

Milne Cabin

In late 2016, Marcia Kantz Milne, widow of UCHS’s long-time treasurer, donated her ancestors’ log cabin. This cabin, built in the 1790s, is similar to the one that originally sat in the “elbow” where the DEW House’s two wings now join.

New Image

Once relocated and in place on the DEW property, the Milne Cabin will help visitors appreciate the realities of everyday life on the Susquehanna frontier.

Gardens

When the Engle family lived here, plants played a vibrant, almost magical, role. From the 1930s-1960s, multi-colored hollyhocks grew everywhere. A bull hickory nut tree stood at the bend in the upper farm lane. Sheep grazed in the orchard west of the barn, with over 75 apple, pear, and sour cherry trees providing fruit for cooking, cider, and jellies. Bluegrass spread across the bottom of the hill. The family grew potatoes, as well as marrowfat peas and beans, in the truck patch below the house.

Spirea shrubs flourished on the east side of the house, and gooseberries grew in the northeast corner. Maude Engle's violets, yellow dogtooth, paper narcissus, myrtle, grape hyacinth and creeping phlox cascaded over the rock outcropping behind the house. A quince tree, recently replanted, stood on the front southeast corner. Hydrangeas framed the south side of the deep garden steps; rambler roses spread to the north. Curtains of blue morning glories crept up strings hanging in front of the porch.

The family selected their Christmas trees from the stand of cedars growing on the ridge among trailing arbutus and lady slippers.

Black walnut and elderberry trees, together with hedges of black cherries and raspberries, once grew beside the lower lane to Strawbridge Road, to satisfy the family's dietary needs.


 

Concrete now covers the large stone platform and steps that once led to the front door. The steep drop nearby had lilacs framing an enormous stone retaining wall. From the vegetable garden below, the family harvested onions, carrots, lettuce, parsley, sage, thyme, bay leaf, ginger root, dill weed, and chives. Cuttings from Maude Engle’s white, red and pink peonies adorned family grave sites on Decoration Day. Other flowers in rows included gladiolus, zinnias, foxglove, Sweet William, asters, cosmos, snadragons, larkspurs, marigolds, delphiniums, geraniums, and celosia.

 

Dairy Shed

 

The Engles built the block dairy shed during the 1930s to process raw milk. A steam-powered rotary brush cleaned individual bottles before sterilization. Bone-chilling well water flowed through a radiator to cool the milk before it was siphoned into a holding tank. Bottles were filled, capped by hand, and stored in ice coolers before delivery to neighbors and, briefly, to the family’s Lewisburg store near Bull Run.

When you turn on the dairy shed’s audio stand, you can hear Jake Engle’s first- hand account about his early life on this working dairy farm. 

 

 

 


 

Dale's Ridge Nature Trail

Engle family members have told us how wildflowers grew profusely beside Buffalo Creek and atop Dale’s Ridge. Many varieties can still be seen today when they are in season. These include May apples, dogwood, Indian paint brush, trailing arbutus, lady's slippers, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, chicory, knotweed, dogtooth violets, moccasin flowers, yarrow, buttercups, goldenrod, milkweed, bittersweet, cardinal flowers, horsemint, jewelweed, and pokeberries.

Both hikers and birding enthusiasts can find nature's best along the trail.

For more information, please go to either: 

https://linnconservancy.org/ or                                                                                                            http://sevenmountainsaudubon.org/