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National Register of Historic Places, Jefferson County, WV
Item 20 of 78
York Hill is a historic house and farm that has been in continuous agricultural use from the 1750s to today. The home at York Hill is a “telescope house” with sections constructed in the late 1700s, early 1800s, and 1970s. Initially farmed for grain and possibly tobacco, the land was converted to orchards in the twentieth century and is currently operated as the Twin Ridge Orchard and York Hill Orchard & Farm. York Hill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006 for its role in the agricultural development of the region and the representative agricultural architecture.

York Hill

Winter, Branch, Freezing, Neighbourhood

The central three windows are the log core--the far left windows are one addition and the stone addition on the right is also visible. (2006)

Property, House, Porch, Home

Back view of the house shows all of the different sections and additions (2006)

Window, Architecture, Property, Neighbourhood

York Hill

Grass, Plant, Residential area, Property

York Hill

Window, Property, Residential area, House

Pennsylvania Bank Barn (2006)

Photograph, House, Rural area, Monochrome photography

The Barn at York Hill

Grass, Property, Land lot, Real estate

One of the stone dependencies included in the NRHP Nomination (2006)

Branch, Wood, Tree, House

One of the stone dependencies included in the NRHP Nomination (2006)

Branch, House, Tree, Twig

Hendricks/Snyder Cemetery (2006)

Headstone, Photograph, Plant community, Land lot

1852 Map of Jefferson County

Yellow, Text, White, Line

1925 Map

Yellow, Text, Photograph, White

The farm was established around 1750 by Samuel Darke who farmed subsistence goods and possibly tobacco. It is likely that Darke was living on the land prior to 1750 as local records mention him several times in the 1740s, however he received the warrant to survey 360 acres from Lord Fairfax in April 1750. He was officially granted the surveyed land in 1754. On September 1, 1756 John Wright purchased the 360 acres from Samuel Darke as a lease & release (essentially a lease to own arrangement) and then the property was acquired by Col. James Hendricks in August 1762.

Col. James Hendricks held the 360-acre property until his death in 1795, and under his family it was split into separate estates. Eldest son, Daniel, married Jane Buckles around 1763 and settled on the northwest third of his father’s property. James Hendricks’ 1795 will further divided the estate between his children and grandchildren, and provided for the support of his wife. The will divided the property into four households on three farms: Daniel’s widow Jane still held the northwest section, a western section was divided between two grandsons (Tobias and Daniel Hendricks), and the remainder was divided evenly between his sons James Jr. and John Hendricks. James Hendricks, Jr. acquired the Rock Spring property and John Hendricks the York Hill property.

John Hendricks quickly sold his inherited land, and it appears he moved out of the county. In November 1795 he sold 42 acres to his brother James to add to the Rock Spring property and in March 1796 he sold the remaining 98 acres to Martin Myers. Myers lived in Washington County, MD and only held the property for one year before selling it to Jacob Snyder. Snyder, who also lived in Washington County, purchased the farm for his son John Snyder and in 1802 Jacob and Ann Snyder officially sold the 98-acre farm to their son. John Snyder also later purchased Rock Spring from James Hendricks in 1831. The Snyder family operated the farm from 1798 to 1939 and it was known as the “Snyder Farm.”

John Snyder, Sr. died in 1858. At this point, John Snyder, Jr. lived at the Rock Spring property, so it is likely that his oldest son, Jacob, moved into York Hill. In the 1870 census Jacob Snyder and his wife were listed with seven children and real estate worth $25,000. A black couple was also listed in the household, Daniel and Hannah Bowers who worked for the Snyder family. In 1872 John Snyder, Jr. conveyed the York Hill property to Jacob Snyder and the Rock Spring property to another son, Nelson Snyder. In the 1880s, Jefferson County began to reduce its wheat production and shift towards orchard production. Jacob Snyder converted part of his property to orchards by 1910 and Nelson Snyder was listed as an “apple grower” in 1928. Jacob Snyder’s son, Charles Snyder, also farmed the property on a farm parceled out of the southeast corner of the farm (known as “Cherry Hill”).

Jacob Snyder died in 1915 and his wife, Lizzie Snyder, in 1919. In her will she did not specifically give the farm to any particular one of her children but gave them the first right to purchase the farm. Lizzie Snyder’s heirs agreed in 1921 that two of the siblings, Ferd Snyder and Maria Snyder, would buy the 145-acre farm. The Snyder siblings operated the farm and orchard through the 1920s and 1930s, and around 1925 the name was changed to “York Hill.” The 1930s were devastating for Ferd and Maria Snyder as they faced the same struggles as farmers across the nation in the Great Depression. In 1938 they twice had to place parts of their land in trust to other people in order to secure funds and when they could not pay their debts they had to declare bankruptcy and were forced to sell the farm. In 1939 York Hill was sold to Nan Wilson for $8,760.

Five years later, Nan Wilson sold the farm (now 135 acres) to Milton Burr, Samuel J. Hockensmith, and Robert A. Hockensmith. The three men were partners in the orchard until 1951 when Burr sold his interests in the property and equipment to Robert Hockensmith. Two years later, Robert’s wife, Pauline Hockensmith, purchased Samuel Hockensmith’s share so the orchard and farm was owned and operated under one family. Around this point the Hockensmiths converted the bank barn to orchard use by converting sections into cold storage. Pauline and Robert Hockensmith’s daughter, Mary Frances, married Jerry Hockman in 1958 and in 1960 her parents gave her the farmstead complex. Two years later the Twin Ridge Orchard Co., with Jerry Hockman as president, purchased 139 acres from the Hockensmiths and a few years later bought 42 more acres adjacent to the house. By the end of the 1960s some of the acreage was still owned by Pauline Hockensmith, but the orchard was primarily operated by Jerry and Mary Frances Hockman. The Hockmans divorced and in 1989 Jerry Hockman conveyed the property entirely to Mary Frances Hockman. In 1997 Pauline Hockensmith gave the rest of her interest in the property to her daughters, Mary Frances Hockman and Margaret Ann Saunders. In 2006 the Twin Ridge Orchard Co., Inc., parent company of the York Hill Orchard & Farm, continued to operate under Gordon Hockman.

The main house at York Hill is a “telescope house” with sections constructed at different times. The original log core structure was built in the late 1700s by one of the early owners of the property. In the early 1800s two additions were done on the main core: a stone addition of limestone forms the north wing and a log addition forms the south wing. A final frame addition was added to the southwest corner of the house in the 1970s. The 138-acre orchard and farm was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006 for its role in the agricultural development of the region and the representative agricultural architecture, particularly from the 19th century. Included in the NRHP nomination is the main house, stone smoke house, stone springhouse, and large stone Pennsylvania bank barn. The barn was built in 1812 for grain storage and livestock and was later converted to orchard use in the 1900s. The nominated property also includes the Hendricks/Snyder cemetery; most of the burials are from the 1800s with the most recent in 1937.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"The Barn at York Hill." Facebook. January 24, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnAtYorkHill/photos/772238116213602.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

"The Barn at York Hill." Facebook. April 29, 2017. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnAtYorkHill/photos/1107081432729267.

"The Barn at York Hill." Facebook. January 21, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnAtYorkHill/photos/465267816910635.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

"The Barn at York Hill." Facebook. January 21, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnAtYorkHill/photos/465373680233382.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.

“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form—York Hill.” Accessed December3, 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jefferson/06000654.pdf.