Seal of Lower Saucon Township
3700 Old Philadelphia Pike / Bethlehem, Pa 18015 / 610-865-3291

Christman Farm Historic Area

Lower Saucon Township The Christman Farm Historic Area is located north of Bull Run on Lower Saucon Road in Lower Saucon Township. The area is a largely intact remnant of a 108-acre farm tract patented by Jacob and Anna Maria Christman in 1789. The historic farm complex consists of a farmhouse and a cluster of seven period outbuildings ranging in date from ca. 1789 to 1925.

The physical evidence and deed of property strongly indicate that the farmhouse was built by Jacob Christman about 1789. He was a second-generation descendant of German settlers who immigrated to Pennsylvania during the mind 18th century. Jacob and his wife Anna Marie Christman obtained title to the original 108-acre property by a deed of patent dated 1789 and transferred it to their youngest son John at about the time of his marriage to Christiana Illick in 1804. John in turn willed the property to his middle son Charles in 1841. Charles lost the farm at sheriff’s sale in 1878, but likely continued to live at the farm until his death in 1882, at which time it passed out of the Christman family.

Census records document that the Christman household was large, numbering as many as 14 individuals in the 1820s and 1830s, and it almost always included extended family, farm hands and servants. It seems probable that Jacob and Anna Maria Christman lived in the farmhouse with their son John and his wife Christiana after 1804, and a pattern of elderly parents or in-laws living with their adult children continued through at least 1880. The farmhouse has a three-bay section that dates to ca. 1789 and a two-bay extension to the north, likely dating to ca. 1835 during the period when the elderly John and Christiana Christman shared the house with their son John and his wife Sarah. The 1840 census schedule appears to confirm this arrangement by listing two heads of house (John and Charles). John and Christiana Christman owned the farm until John’s death in 1841, at which time it passed to their middle son, Charles (b. 1812-d.1882). A condition of John’s 1841 will was that Charles continue to provide housing for his widowed mother Christiana, who was still living on the farm at the age of 91 in 1870. Functionally, the house’s two sections – the original southern seven-room section and the five-room northern extension – can be easily interpreted to reflect multi-generational living arrangements.

Charles Christman, the third and last generation to live on the farm, made significant improvements, including the construction of the large bank barn, stable, and carriage house. In 1860 he built a grist mill at the lower end of Bull Run near its intersection with Redington Road (now a separate tax parcel. The stone mill is in ruins). The 1874 Beers Atlas clearly shows the farm and mill. Charles mortgaged the farm and mill to John Knecht, a locally prominent miller and businessman from Shimersville, in the mid 1870s. Charles lost title to the farm and mill for inability to pay his debts at a sheriff’s sale in 1878. Census records suggest that he continued to live at the farm until his death in 1882.

The farmhouse and outbuildings that date to the Christman era reflect the various household and agricultural activities and processes that occurred on a typical German farm during the first three-quarters of the 19th century. The bank barn with its granary and large threshing floor on the upper floor, and livestock on the lower floor, was the heart of the enterprise. The two-story fieldstone spring house was also a site of high activity, most of it centered around the domestic processes of laundry and food preparation and storage. The stable, shop, and carriage shed to the rear (west) of the farmhouse date from before 1875 and also reflect a variety of uses and activities associated with the Christmans and 19th-century farm life. The two-bay, one-story stable would have housed horses and, perhaps, a milk cow for family use. The enclosed room likely was used to store tools, harness, and other tack. This room also sits over a root cellar for storing crops such as potatoes and onions. The orientation of the stable to the rear of the farmhouse creates a courtyard that would have provided a convenient and protected environment for the family’s outdoor chores. Separate and to the rear of the stable are two, one-story, gable-ended vernacular buildings: the larger is a carriage house, and the smaller is identified as a shop with a small interior hearth to its north side. The hand-hewn timber beams joined by trunnels suggest the shop to be the oldest of the timber-frame outbuildings.

(From Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form – Narrative Sheet prepared by Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers – 2005)

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