Michael Korn/Korns family homestead, Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA

1949 photo of Michael Korns, Sr. family farm, Somerset County, PA

This photograph was scanned from the book “The Genealogy of Michael Korns, Sr. of Somerset County Pennsylvania”, which was written Charles Byron Korns, Sr., M.D. (Berlin: Berlin Publishing Co., 1949).

In the C.B. Korns genealogy book, the photograph caption reads “Original Farm Home of Michael Korns, Sr., 1795, as it appears in 1949. Located in Southampton Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.” This caption clearly dates the photo to 1949.

Page 29 of the book states “The Michael Korns, Sr., farm in Southampton Township consisted of several hundred acres nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Much of the land has been cleared and is in a good state of cultivation, indicative of hard and strenuous labor. This home was the pride of that community. The place was designated by the Court as a voting place in that District, and was formerly the seat of government of that township as it was here that elections were held, school boards held their meetings, tax collectors and township auditors met here. This home, once the pride of our ancestors, is now in a dilapidated state due to the ravages of time and carelessness and indifference of the various owners.”

The above-quoted caption and description appear to suggest that Dr. Korns believed that this house was lived in by Michael Korns, Senior. Unfortunately, we don't know what the basis for this apparent belief was, but Dr. Korns lived in Somerset County, and would have had access to older family members who might have been familiar with local traditions that are now lost to living memory.

In the preface to the book, Dr. Korns wrote "There are presented in this volume some of the old original farm homes as they appear in 1949. The buildings are from 100 to 150 years old and some are in a dilapidated condition." This is one of only a few houses featured in the book that could possibly fit the description of already being approximately 150 years old in 1949.

Clearly, the house hadn't been maintained for a long time prior to the time the photo was taken for Dr. Korns' book, and it probably hadn't been lived in for some time. The fact that the house was already in this state of disrepair, and abandoned as a residence, by 1949 seems to suggest that it was indeed an early structure. Frugality was the norm during and following the great depression, and I don't think that a house in this area would have been frivolously abandoned as a residence, if it could still be lived in. The people in this area are known for "making do, or doing without". The house must have already been a fairly hopeless case from the standpoint of repair long before Dr. Korns photograph was taken, or else there must have been some unusual unknown circumstance such as a lengthly possession dispute among heirs that kept it from being used as a residence. Personally, I take its abandonment as a residence as probable evidence that it was an early structure, no longer practical to live in. Click here for an enlargement of the house portion of this photo.

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