My family recently lost a treasure that should not have been forgotten to the ages. We all have one, or perhaps, “had” would be the better word, as many of these heirlooms no longer exist in the name of progress, ignorance, or apathy.
I’m afraid that until a local news article came out about the demolishing of a town’s historical landmark home, our family’s loss was due to ignorance.
The home I speak of was built in 1792 in the little town of Morgantown, PA.
…and the alleged apathy of the home’s owner, who I must add does not even live in the town, but an hour away.
Let that date sink in a moment.
Our country was in its very beginnings at that time as the United States; George Washington was still president, the Louisiana Purchase had not yet occurred, and the U.S. Postal Service had just been created that very year.
Amazing to think of life then, right?
Now, how does the house pertain to my family and I?
When I saw the article it said one of the long time owners was “Plank”. That being a family name, I texted my mom to see if there was a connection. She texted back that she had looked it up and we were direct descendants.
I was already aghast at the demolition of such an old home, but now it just got personal.
The history of the house started when Colonel Jacob Morgan had the house built for his daughter, Mary Hudson. She and her husband, John, had five children that were born and raised there.
Fast forward to 1869 when Dr. David Heber Planke and his wife Ida bought the home; this is when my ancestry gained a link to this home. Dr Planke practiced and saw patients in his home there, and his wife ran a girls school. They lived there until 1913. After that the house was rented out to various families.
In 1952 William Bertolet Planke bought back the family home when he and his wife resettled in their hometown. His wife and daughter continued to live there after his death until it was sold at an auction in 1989 to a Thomas Abbinizio of Wynnewood, PA for his daughter, Angela Zager. She rented it out to families for a few years and then let it fall into disrepair, then abandoned it altogether.
I don’t know why anyone would hold on to a house they aren’t using, but it makes me mad no matter what the excuse to let such a home rot.
A distant relative of mine and a descendant of the Planke family, Rosine Plank Bumback, succinctly expressed what not just myself, but I’m sure the whole town feels at the loss:
I have a picture of the portrait she spoke of from our Plank family history book. It is now all I have as a link to “what was”. (sorry for the cel pic)
It pains me that I knew only too late all the links I had to a town I once went to school and lived in when first married. I had more of a link to the town than I ever thought, and now that physical link is forever gone.
My dear friends…find your roots. Your homesteads. Claim them back or protect them. Let’s not lose our history or heritage.