Manor Lake Civic Association

History of the Manor Lake Community


Manor Lake first appears in the historical record as one of the earliest colonial land grants, from Lord Culvert to John Boyd on June 5, 1727, of an area surveyed in 1725 as “Boyd’s Delay.” This tract apparently extended from Norbeck Road on the South to Rock Creek on the west and nearly to Olney on the north.

As the site of his home, a log cabin called “Lonesome Hollow”, Boyd chose the southern slope of the valley of North Creek in the vicinity of a clear, clean, cold source of water that later inhabitants were to name Rock Spring. We know the site today as the slope behind the white house at the end of Rocking Spring Drive, overlooking Lake Frank. There, on July 3, 1794, Rueben T. Boyd, later Pastor of the Clarksburg Methodist Church, became the first child born on this land.

In 1823, our portion of Boyd’s Delay passed to the Brooke Family, which was to shape our heritage for the rest of the 19th century. According to county land records, Roger Brooke V bought 550 acres, including all of Manor Lake and Flower Valley, from the Farms and Mechanics Bank of Georgetown for $2.70 an acre. His daughter, Sarah Brooke Farquhar, inherited approximately two-thirds of this tract in 1860.

Our most prominent figure, Roger Brooke Farquhar, son of Sarah Brooke Farquhar, took up residence at Lonesome Hollow, the home built by the Boyd’s, in 1861. Four years later, he received title to 229 acres when his mother divided her holdings among her children. In 1867, Roger brought his young bride, Caroline Miller of Alexandria to Lonesome Hollow.

By 1879, Roger B. Farquhar, by this time known as one of the most successful farmers in Montgomery County, was ready to move up. At the top of the hill above Lonesome Hollow, he built his dream house the white Victorian he named Rock Spring Farm, for the water source that had attracted the first settlers. The land records state that Rock Spring costs $4,913.33 to build.

Rock Spring Farm quickly became a local landmark. The home was one of the first in the county with indoor plumbing and running water. An entrance road on the approximate alignment of Rocking Spring Drive ran to Norbeck Road. From this point, Farquhar and his workers constructed a section of what is now Norbeck Road to the post office at the intersection with Muncaster Mill Road. County agricultural society records praise Rock Spring as one of the most productive dairy and poultry farms in Maryland.

The Farquhar family, soon expanded by the birth of several children, settled into an active and prominent life at Rock Spring. Roger B. Farquhar became one of the earliest and most vocal opponents of slavery in the state of Maryland. He worked to amend the Maryland Constitution to abolish slavery before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. As a member of the Sandy Spring Quaker Meeting, Farquhar registered himself as a conscientious objector once the Civil War began, but continued to support the Union cause financially and politically. The Farquhar children attended a Quaker-sponsored school in Sandy Spring, taking as long as two hours to reach by sleigh or wagon during the snow and mud seasons.

Although the main Civil war battles skirted our area, the events of the time touched Rock Spring. Roger B.’s diary available at the County Historical Society in Rockville, records the depredations of Mosby’s Raiders and other Confederate bands who pillaged the local farms for horses and provisions. Farquhar met Union Generals Hooker and McClellan when they marched their troops through the area. On one occasion, Roger was arrested and detained briefly for crossing unwittingly into a camp of Union soldiers near the grain mill that stood at what today is the intersection of the Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail and Avery Road. Today’s ruins and mill race lie in thick woods to the north of the trail on our side of Avery Road. Farquhar’s diary describes the area as one of his pastures.

As the new century began, the Farquhar history at Rock Spring was ending. On April 11, 1904, Caroline Miller Farquhar died of pneumonia contracted during a long drive home from the Sandy Spring Quaker Meeting. In 1913, Roger sold Rock Spring to PP Gibson, the first of several owners with little interest in farming.

Another grandson of Roger Brooke V, William Brooke, founded Avon Farm in the westernmost portion of Manor Lake, the area along Bauer Drive. Constructed in 1862, the farmhouse stood on the site of the stone ranch home two houses in from Norbeck Road on the right side of Bauer Drive. In his diary William Brooke described his property as 150 acres of forest, sagebrush, and briars.

The William Brookes had a more troubled existence than their cousins at Rock Spring. After producing two daughters, Mary Halowell Brooke died in t 1864. William’s second wife, Mary Coffin Brooke, a schoolteacher, came to Avon Farm in 1871. She started a small school, attended for a time by the Farquhar children, and was a very skilled dairy and poultry farmer. In 1877, however, William’s poor health forced the family to sell the property and move to Washington Grove.

Change came rapidly to Avon and Rock Spring Farms with WWII. In 1945, Dr. Aaron S. Schwartzman, a Washington physician, bought Avon, razed the house, and constructed the present stone structure on its foundations. In 1965, the Manor Lake Land Company acquired Avon and Rock Spring Farms and began the long-term development project that created today’s community.

The spirit and grace of Avon and Rock Spring live on in today’s Manor Lake. Roger B’s home still graces the hill overlooking the stream valley. Our lawns, trees, and flowers grow in the soil that these early families so patiently cleared and nurtured over two centuries.

Posted by weiler on 09/17/2006
Last updated by Don436 on 11/14/2015
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Montgomery County, Maryland 20853

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