Ken and Connie Farabaugh recently preserved 60 acres of their land along Middle Creek in Liberty Township with the help of the Land Conservancy of Adams County.

The couple bought their home on Bullfrog Road 30 years ago—for the second time. They had first purchased the property in 1974, then sold it in 1979 when Ken was transferred to Harrisburg, only to buy it back eight years later when he returned to Gettysburg for good as an advisor with Prudential Financial Planning Services.

But the whole story of this property starts long before that. It’s a tale of speculation, subdivision, and now, reverse subdivision that began over 250 years ago. The Farabaughs’ property was among lands purchased from the Iroquois in the early 1700s by the family of William Penn. In 1741 Thomas Penn ordered a survey of what was then called the Manor of Maske, an area of land six miles wide by 12 miles long in the center of what would later become Adams County. His aim was to sell the land to Scots-Irish settlers moving into the area. This particular tract was on the western edge of the Manor of Maske. Records show that it was part of 194 acres deeded to Samuel Gettys, and that it was surveyed and warranted in 1765.

Fast forward to 1963, when Charles and Anita Rist of Towson, Maryland, began buying property in Adams County, primarily in Liberty and Hamiltonban townships, with the aim of creating a planned community called “Charnita,” a name derived from their two first names.

By the time the Farabaughs re-acquired their home in 1987, it was clear that many of the half-acre building lots in their area of the poorly planned Charnita development could not actually support development. A few months after buying back their home, they bought two small neighboring parcels, the first of many they would purchase in the years following. They have since cobbled together more than 60 acres of woodland surrounding a picturesque stretch of Middle Creek and their restored historic home.

“Whenever I bought one of the Charnita lots, I told the sellers that my objective was to have the land go into the Land Conservancy,” said Ken Farabaugh. “We may be the landowners right now, but the house was built in the 1760s—we’re really just temporary caretakers. I didn’t want to see anything happen to this land down the road when somebody would get some idea about developing it. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

From the Iroquois to the Scots-Irish settlers, from the hapless Charnita development and the many owners of its useless lots, and eventually to the careful stewardship of Ken and Connie Farabaugh, these 60 acres have a rich and varied history dating back to the 18th century. And thanks to the Farabaughs’ decades-long commitment to rebuilding this part of Penn’s Woods in their own back yard, the land is protected from development forever.