About the farm

The farmhouse at Roundabout Hills, circa 1770

Roundabout Hills originated as a 266 acre land patent granted to Henry Ridgley III, a surveyor, in 1745. It was sold in the 1770s to Reuben Meriweather, who is thought to have built the original frame house sometime in the 1770s. His son, Thomas Beale Dorsey Meriweather (great, greatgrandfather of Marjorie Merriweather Post), inherited the estate from his father, and built a stone addition to the original frame house in 1820. The new addition gave the house an attached kitchen and a new room between the original house and the new kitchen, which was probably used as a dining room. The house at Roundabout Hills is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and represents a rather rare example in Howard County of a Tidewater Colonial, along with a stone structure next to it that is thought to have been a slave quarter or workshop, another rare survival.

Shortly after adding the stone addition, Thomas Meriweather sold off first 100 acres of his estate, and then the remaining land to Thomas Cook in 1833. Not much is known about Cook except for the estate inventory that was included in his will at his death in 1858. The inventory reveals, among other things, that Cook ploughed with oxen and raised wheat, corn, oats and rye, while keeping his fallow fields in clover. His livestock included five horses, four colts and a pony, 12 cows, two calves, a bull, 28 ewes and lambs, three sows with 17 piglets, and 20 shoats. At Cook’s death an advertisement for the sale of Roundabout Hills described it as an estate of 600 acres, of which 200 acres was wooded, along with an orchard, and the remainder in a high state of cultivation. Cook was deeply in debt to creditors in San Francisco, who tried to stop the sale and gain possession of the property themselves. The petition, however, was dismissed and the estate was finally sold by Cook’s daughters to Thomas Crawford in 1867 for $25,000. At the time of this sale, Roundabout Hills totaled over 975 acres.

Shortly after the sale Cook’s daughters, Mary and Anna, foreclosed on Crawford and repossessed the farm. This time, they peeled off 158 acres of the farm for themselves, which included the house and outbuildings, and sold the remaining land. Anna Cook remained on the farm until 1905, when she and her two nieces sold their shares of the property to her nephew, Thomas C. Stewart. In 1937 the farm was bought by William and Isabelle Owings, and then still later by the Mangers, who first sought to place the property on the National Register of Historic Places. In the 1980s, the farm was renamed Peacefields after John and Abigail Adams’ estate in Massachusetts. As has been the case with many of the large Maryland farms near Washington D.C. and Baltimore in the last 15 years, Roundabout Hills/Peacefields was sold to developers and now consists only of a little over three acres.  The Anderson’s, who bought Roundabout Hills/Peacefield in the 1990s, lovingly restored the old house and caretaker’s cottage to their present condition, and had the house formally placed on the National Register of Historic Places with the U.S. Park Service.

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