History of the Farm
Rock Spring Farm, also referred to as the Billmyer-McQuilken Farm, is located in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The farm consists of rolling agricultural fields and historic buildings along Rock Spring and Rocky Marsh Run.
The farm was first purchased by Martin Billmyer in 1810. Martin owned and operated Billmyer’s Mill just downstream from Rock Spring. In 1831, the large brick manor house was constructed near the road. It is believed that Martin's son, Conrad, built the manor house for himself and his family. According to the 1832 tax records, the house was valued at $1,926 at the time. The Jefferson County Historic Landmark Society describes the house as one of the county’s finest brick houses of the period. It had an ornate fanlight surround above the entry and unusually developed millwork for the time. The decorative porch, slate roof, and the rear ell were added in the late Victorian period. The house was recognized as a Jefferson County Landmark in 2008. Unfortunately, the house burned in 2012, leaving only the brick shell.
In 1838, Conrad’s brother, Solomon, began operating a fulling mill along the stream behind the house. A fulling mill is a water operated mill with large, wooden hammers that pound the cloth as it is being washed. Fulling mills were very common during the revolutionary period. The process resulted in a shrunken, tighter, and tougher fabric.
In 1847, Conrad Billmyer died and his will stipulated that the farm be sold. The fulling mill and the current corn crop were excepted from the deed. Solomon continued to work the mill for another year and harvested the corn crop. The property was purchased by George Emmert, who sold it ten years later to William T. McQuilken for $13,453. McQuilken was married to Susan Billmyer, daughter of Martin, returning the property once again to the Billmyer family. The land was farmed by the McQuilken family for four generations.
Around 1900, the Swisser-type, or Pennsylvannia, bank barn was built. This style was built from 1790-1900. The style's most distinguishing feature is the presence of an overshoot or forebay, an area where the top of the barn extends over its foundation. These barns were banked, or set into a hillside, to allow for easy access into both the basement stalls and the upper level. The large barn is a well preserved example of the local timber and limestone. It was constructed using notched wood and framing techniques that were common during the time. The basement beams are hand-hewn, which is representative of a much earlier constructions style. In addition to the bank barn, the farm retains its historic corn crib and other agricultural buildings.
In April of 2020, Jordan and Chloe Butts purchased Rock Spring Farm from the McQuilken estate. The couple is working to restore Rock Spring Farm to its former glory and create a utility for all to enjoy.