Southern Grace Farm c.1897
Southern Grace Farm, a 52 acre horse farm conveniently located just off of Rt. 301 at 8950 Doctor Spencer Road, Bel Alton, MD 20611, in the beautiful and historic Southern Maryland.
Of historical interest is that Southern Grace Farm was originally part of a larger estate, Rich Hill owned by Col. Samuel Cox, a Southern sympathizer. Rich Hill was one of the hiding places used by the assassin John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Edgar Harold. After Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, he and his sidekick Harold made their way to the Surratt Tavern. After gathering a few supplies they pressed on and arrived at the home of Dr. Mudd where Booth’s broken leg was tended to and they rested until about 4 p.m. on April 15th. Booth and Harold arrived at Rich Hill on April 16th where Col. Cox requested a confederate agent, Thomas Jones, hide them in a pine thicket near Southern Grace Farm. Booth and Harold remained at Rich Hill until April 21, 1865.
Dr. & Mrs. Earnest Spencer Sr. purchased a tract of land from Col. Cox on January 13, 1897. The Spencer's commissioned Mr. Wills and Mr. Hawkins to build a two story Victorian house with a wrap-around porch. Here, Dr. Spencer provided medical services to local residents, and was one of the last doctors in Charles County to visit his patients in a horse and buggy. The buggy remains intact in the carriage house today.
The estate was taken over by Dr. Spencer’s son, Dr. Earnest Spencer Jr., an Ear Nose Throat specialist at John's Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Ernest Spencer, III and his spinster sister, Madeline Spencer, were the last Spencer’s to live on the estate.
At that time, Baltimore & Potomac Railroad had a depot in Bel Alton (Cox’s Station) and a siding (a place for the train to pull off the track). A passenger train carried farmers & professionals alike to a station in Bowie, Maryland, where one could transfer and go to Washington D.C or stay onboard and go on to Baltimore, MD. Freight cars would stop on the siding with fertilizer, feed, seeds etc… Cars would be available for cattle and hogs. There was a building beside the track, a fenced stockyard where stock would be loaded onto the trains and taken to the slaughterhouse in Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The passenger trains would transport people from the Navy Yard, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
There was once a 22-room hotel owned by the Wills family in Bel Alton. The drummers (traveling salesmen) would stay at this hotel. The next day they would rent horses and buggies from the livery stable behind the Bel Alton Bar and go out and sell their wares.
Mr. Walter Mudd was a fireman for the Railroad. The train would go to Pope’s Creek and stay overnight. Walter Mudd would keep the fire going during the night so the train would be ready for travel the next day. The Baltimore & Potomac Railroad abandoned the Railroad in the late 1940s. The railroad was later owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
In the 1950’s Mr. & Mrs. John A. Taylor purchased the farm and named it Towering Oaks. Mr. Taylor was a builder/developer in Charles County, MD. The Pennsylvania Railroad sold the siding to the Taylor’s in the late 1970s. Today the railroad is owned by Conrail and is used to haul coal to the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) at Morgantown, Maryland.
In the 1980’s John Taylor sold the farm to his son Jim Taylor and his stepson, Charles Tighe along with their wives Kathy and Patricia. Charles, Patricia and one of their sons, Edward Tighe lived on the farm until it was sold April 12, 2002.
Southern Grace Farm is currently owned and operated by Karen A. Anderson, Henry "HANK" Plagwitz and her children, JR, Cody and his wife Alexandra,her daughter, Shelby, and son, John Pilkins and his wife Diana.
If you have the opportunity, call or stop by and visit, we'd love to see ya!