house in summer


The History of Dancing Timber Homestead

The Michael Ahlum (Ahlem) House

The property is registered with the PA Historical and Museum Commission; Bureau for Historic Preservation. A study was done in 1993, with photography of the house, barn and shed by Joseph Schuchman of the Bucks County Conservancy. The papers and pictures are on file with Milford Township.

It is known as the Michael Ahlem House. The house architectural style is Greek Revival, with stone foundation, stone walls, slate roof and stucco walls.

The barn is called a Gambrel Frame barn.

The carriage shed is a simple frame structure with two bays. (We believe that each section was built in different years.)

The study claims the house was built in 1840 (five years before Michael Ahlum died in 1845) but the deed lists the date as 1850, 5 years after his passing, so that would mean someone else built the stone house. We have seen other references that the house was built in 1860. There was a gable placed near the roof line of the stone house, but the date was removed. (We asked our roofer to go up there and check it.)

Two of the stone walls on the barn may have been part of the Fries Rebellion, when the locals were taxed to support the war effort by how many windows they had on their house and barn. The old stone windows on the barn were filled in and have remained that way.

We assume the stone house did not exist during the Fries Rebellion because of its high number of windows, indicating wealth. We are told that the farmhouse is called a “5 over 4”, due to the 5 windows over 4 windows on the wall facing the road.

House in winter
View from the road in the winter.

Our story begins when Johannes Jacob Ahlum (1730 – 1802) arrived in America in 1751 and settled in what is now known as Haycock Township. He is known as one of the pioneering founders of that area. A wheel wright by trade, he and wife Anna Margaret (Drach) Ahlum (1738 – 1809), married in Bucks County in 1755.

Their sons settled in Richland, Bedminster, Rockhill, and Tinicum. Son Michael, born in Bucks County, (1760 – 1845), owned 65 acres in what is now known as Milford Township and is buried in Trumbauersville. Incidentally, two of his brothers, Jacob and Phillip, also died in 1845.

According to Michael Ahlum’s Will, dated February 25, 1845, Reg. Docket Vol. 004-005, 1839 – 1870, he left the property to his son-in-law, William Barndt and John Ahlum, possibly his surviving brother.

The barn pre-dates the house. The earliest tax records, 1789, show 65 acres, with 24 x 15 1 story log house, 50 x 40 round log barn and workshop. In 1827 tax records indicate Michael and John Ahlum as the landowners.

Michael and wife, Anna Margaret Yost (1771 – 1844), likely built the barn and log house.

There is a gap in the history until we find a map of the area in 1850 showing an A. Harring as the likely owner of the land. This would be five years after Michael’s passing and could indicate that he built the stone house but there is no proof of that.

Early maps show a J. Haring owned 75 acres in 1876.

In 1890 Erwin Harwick was the landowner. Amanda Harwick, widow of Erwin, and her children turned the estate over to Frank Scheetz (unknown year). 76 acres were recorded.

In 1910 Frank Scheetz sold 72 acres to Charles Hunsberger (Feb 26, 1910). In 1910 neighbors included the Harwick, Stricker, Barndt, Stull, Wonsidler and Haring families. There is a dowry from 1930 of family members from the Harwick, Nase, Barndt, and Hunsberger families named. Several of their offspring married Trumbauers.

When Charles Hunsberger died in 1969, his wife Annie and his children took over the property and sold 52 acres to Charles Baker in 1970. Evidence of the Hunsberger family exists today inside the barn walls, with their etchings, paintings and names painted on the walls.

We know that in the early 1900’s there were a series of arson fires in Milford Township and one of them may have taken place at the barn. There is an old metal WANTED sign nailed to a wall and evidence that part of the barn was rebuilt.

In 1978  Charles and Norma Baker created a 5 acre parcel that is where the house is located. Today, the lands once owned by Wonsidler are owned by Milford Township. The Trumbauersville house is bordered on 3 sides by this protected land.

Signs of hunsberger
One of the signs left in the barn by the Hunsberger family in the early 1900’s.

Since the reduction to 5 acres, the property has belonged to 6 families, including us. The house was remodeled in the 1990’s. There are indications it was built in sections, with the section facing the street a publick house, open to travelers who could stop by for a drink. The interior walls of the front of the house and kitchen were once exterior walls. Several doors were clearly once exterior doors. The summer kitchen was attached to the main house eventually. There were 5 stone fireplaces, including one in the basement and one in the master bedroom that exist to this day.

One local legend who lived here was known as the Lobster Lady. She was a beloved member of the community, known for driving up to Maine to bring down lobsters which she sold out of the section of the barn we restored and call The Studio. Evidence of her business remains in one section of the upper barn, where to this day her lobster crates, ropes and packing boxes sit as a testimony to her fame.

Along the borders of the property and here and there are sections of old fencing dating back to the early 1900’s. We have run into local townspeople who helped build the fencing in their youth.

Whoever owns the house is presented with what is known as the History Box, which contains deeds, records, and paperwork for anyone interested in knowing the history of the property. A table and chairs and old photograph also stay with the house, as does a little doll tucked into the upper barn sliding door, whom we believe is the barn guardian. Owners are given instructions that they always remain with the property.

Their stories have been lost to time.

House side
The locals tell us stories about the property.
Stained glass cubbies and spindle railings along the staircase off the kitchen make this bedroom unique.