The Dale-Engle-Walker House and farm were bequeathed
to the Union County Historical Society in 2001. The Society restored the c. 1793 stone house to preserve its architecture, and toprovide exhibit and storage space for the Society’s archives and collections. The site also includes the Engle’s dairy shed and a Wagon Shed, which houses historic farm implements and horse-drawn vehicles. In 2019, the c. 1789 Milne Log Cabin, a gift from
Marcia Milne, was relocated to the property.
Samuel Dale, a 42-year-old Scots-Irish immigrant, had settled for a few years on the western side of the newly-opened Susquehanna Valley before eventually buying this 137-acre farm in 1785. Within eight years, a handsome four-room limestone house fronted the original log cabin erected about twenty years earlier. The new structure was appropriate for a person of Dale’s political and social position
as his neighbors repeatedly elected him to the state legislature. The house’s “ell” section was built onto the western back of the house about forty years later. The porch was added in the 1880s.
The Dales were one of a handful of local families who kept their slaves until Pennsylvania completely abolished slavery in 1847. The Dale-Engle-Walker House was not a stop along the Underground Railroad, although there are other documented sites in central Pennsylvania and throughout the Susquehanna Valley.
An audio station by the basement hearth tells the story of Dinah, the domestic slave owned by Mrs. Anne Futhey Dale.
The house tour includes the original hearth, furnished with period cooking implements, where Dinah would have prepared family meals.
Dale’s library, as listed in his will, reflected his eclectic interests - from politics, history, and religion to agriculture, literature, science, and the arts – an extraordinary range for someone living on this remote frontier. His descendants continued to live and farm here for another fifty years before renting it out to a succession of tenant farmers well into the 20th century.
Jacob and Maude Engle, first-generation children of German immigrants, bought the property from Dale's descendants in 1929. Six years later, they and their ten children began operating the Dale’s Ridge Dairy until 1944, before they eventually sold the farm in 1957. Jacob Engle was also the first farmer in Buffalo Township to control soil erosion by using contour farming techniques.
The original barn burned in the mid-1930s; its replacement collapsed sixty years later. Only the limestone foundation walls remain. The Engles had no electricity or indoor plumbing except for services to the outbuildings where needed. A chicken house and a woodshed stood just north and west of the house. A nearby buzz saw cut firewood before the boys rolled logs downhill to the house. The six boys slept on three bunk beds in the big bedroom, while the four girls doubled up in the back "ell" bedroom.
Ralph Charles Walker, a Bucknell professor, moved in with his wife Rosemary, modernized the house, and raised some cattle here from 1957 until 2000. Charlie and Rosie also bred and trained beagles as guide dogs for the visually impaired. Their estate not only deeded the property to the Union County Historical Society, their conservation easement, one of Pennsylvania's earliest, preserves and protects this landmark property. A group of stakeholders representing UCHS, the Merrill Linn Conservancy, and the Seven Mountains Audubon Society is responsible for maintaining the house, farmstead and nature trail.
MILNE LOG CABIN
In late 2016, Marcia Kantz Milne, widow of UCHS’s long-time treasurer, donated her ancestors’ log cabin. This cabin, built in the 1790s, is similar to the one that originally sat in the “elbow” where the DEW House’s two wings now join. Now that the Milne Cabin is in place on the DEW property, it will be an invaluable asset as it helps visitors appreciate the realities of everyday life on the Susquehanna frontier.