Octagon House Restored
October 2001
Photo Taken by Lynne O'Brien

Octagon House
A Labor of Love in the Forest
Lynne O'Brien is the great-great granddaughter of Anthony "Anton" Gleockler, the carpenter and architect of the orignal old Octagon House near Estella, Sullivan County, PA. Recently, Lynne contacted the Sullivan County Genealogical Project with information about the history of her Glockler ancestors and about the famous, if unusual, structure for which her emigrant great-great-grandfather was responsible. With no further delay, here is the story of Octagon House.


Three Views of Octagon House
Before Restoration About 1990
Photos Taken by Laurie Gleockner

The following article appeared in the Sullivan Review, the weekly newspaper for Dushore and surrounding Sullivan County, PA, on January 16, 1959.

Old "Round House" Recalled by Death of John Campbell
By J. Demarest Berry

Many of the older residents and former residents of Elkland Township, reading the account in last week's issue of The Sullivan Review of the death of John G. Campbell, 77, of Dushore RD 2, were reminded of the time when he resided with his sister and her family in the old "round house" on the former Chaffee place near Estella. This was back in the early 1920's.

One account of Sullivan County history, printed in May 1955, has this to say about "the round house":

Perched on an elevation overlooking the hamlet of Estella and broad expanse of countryside is a house that commands attention. It is of solid construction and gives promise of survival long past the span of most wooden houses. Octagon in shape, it formerly was surrounded by a wide porch with a circular hall surmounted by two flights of winding stairs, giving entrance to twelve rooms and leading to around lookout on the top. This rather impractical air chamber provides ventilation that is cool and pleasant in summer but difficult to heat in winter. Built in the sixties by a rich Philadelphian named William Marsden for a country home, it passed down through the years to owners that occupied it only in summer and had little local interest. Tenants and caretakers have allowed it to deteriorate without gathering the moss and vines of myth or tradition. Purchased recently by Reighley (actually Raleigh) Beinlich it will be occupied by the Beinlich family. It will be known through another century as the "Round House." When Mrs. Julia Beinlich, wife of Raleigh Beinlich, was asked what information she might have on the old round house, her face lighted up, she went to a Bible, leafed through it and produced the above picture which, she stated had been taken by Lee Fetherbay, now residing on Headley Ave., Dushore, before any exterior changes had been made in the appearance of the building. The Beinlichs also have some of the old original deeds and legal papers, among which is the original deed from William Glidewell to John Marsden, dated August 31, 1858. This document is written in the finest penmanship one would ever be privileged to see. John Marsden passed on to his reward and bequeathed the property to his son, William C. Marsden, the will being proved at Philadelphia on June 12, 1874.

The property was later deeded to Thomas McCadden, conveyed to Barton Castor, and conveyed to Hannah McCadden. On June 6, 1885, the property passed from the hands of Hannah McCadden and Thomas McCadden, her husband, to Annie V. Chaffee of Forksville Borough, and covered 133 acres of land in Elkland Township. At the time of Anna V. Chaffee's death, her husband, Dr. Francis Chaffee, having preceded her, she left to survive her one son, William J. Chaffee, and two daughters, Frances Chaffee Evans and Myra M. Chaffee. On October 22, 1925, the son and his wife, Elizabeth Muir Chaffee, conveyed his one-third interest to his sisters, each owning a one-half undivided interest. On March 1950, they sold the property to Raleigh and Julia Beinlich. The son resides in Towanda at the present time, as well as the daughters. Lyman J. Snyder, 85, of Eldredsville, says this round house is not the first built in this section of the county. The fist round house was owned and lived in by a Whiteley, and is now occupied by the Murray Barnes family. Probably the reason it has not had more notoriety is because it is back in the country off the beaten path, so to speak. William Marsden married a Whiteley girl, and apparently was so taken with the octagon house of the Whiteley's that he wanted one like it, but he wanted one larger and better. It is not known definitely when the house was built, but it is believed to be between 80 and 85 years of age.

Mr. Snyder believes that Marsden went to Philadelphia, where he worked on the streetcars, horse-drawn at that time. His son was taking a course in pharmacy. Marsden inherited some finance and never had to work afterward. The youngest son now resides in Towanda, and is a retired pharmacist.

Mr. Snyder says Marsden lived there and then sold to McCadden, a plasterer. He lived in New York, and brought his family there and put them to farming. They had the farm the round house is on and also the farm George Edkins now owns. McCadden sold to Dr. Chaffee of Forksville, a medical doctor, when Mr. Snyder was around 11 years of age. Moses Meadow (Middaugh), a brother-in-law of Chaffee, was the first one to live there after Chaffee bought it, says Mr. Snyder.

He came from the vicinity of Towanda, across the river from Ulster. Mr. Snyder was about 21 years of age when Moses lived there. The last time he saw Moses was many, many years afterwards at Sonestown.

The round house has been occupied by many families down through the years. The George Fetherbay family, the Fred Fetherbays, and the Bartletts. Charles Varguson died there. He got kicked by a horse. The Milford Baily family and William Mayo family resided there. Mr. Snyder's daughter-in-law, Mrs. Kenneth Snyder, present during the interview with Lyman, remembers when Ralph Higley lived there. She stayed there over night with one of his daughters after attending some school function. "I always had to stay over somewhere at night when they had some doings at the school," she said, "As it was too far to go home." She says she entered the house on this occasion in the dark and walked right into a closet, it was black as ink, and she had to be helped out because she didn't know where she was.

Mr. Snyder remembers when the Bartletts lived there. They had a son by the name of Luther, who married a widow whose maiden name was Shoemaker. The Bartletts went out West somewhere. He believes it was to the State of Washington. One of the Bartlett girls married a Jack Campbell, one of the oldest lumbermen jobbers in the section. "It has been the most lived-in house in the community," says Mr. And Mrs. Ralph Burgess of the Estella vicinity. "A family moved there and they had a daughter in her teens who died there, and they claimed that afterwards it was haunted." Back in those days, threshing machines traveled from farm to farm, and then men stayed over night wherever they were overtaken by darkness. The Burgesses recall one of these men, who had stayed the previous night at the old round house, making the statement that he hadn't slept well the night before "The bed danced around." Apparently he had heard stories about the "haunted house." They believe the house to be about 90 years old. Mrs. Burgess says the Chaffees never lived there but did stay there in the summer with the tenants. She can remember the Bartlett family who lived there. They had a large family. She believes that when they left for the West, they went to the state of Montana. "It was quite a thing in those days to travel such a distance. They went out there to live. They fried lots of chicken and took butter tubs filled with bread and food with them on the train. One of the girls came back and visited here later."

Mr. Burgess remembers that Charles Varguson died there from injuries he received when he was kicked by a horse. John Campbell's sister lost a little girl while they were living there. She was but a baby. The Earl Fetherbays lost an infant and the funeral was held in the round house.

Mrs. Burgess says the Rodney Bacon family were the last ones to occupy the place. She describes the place as being rickety and unsafe now. "You can look for some distance from the cupola, but it would be dangerous to attempt to get up there." "There are lots of cupboards and shelves, and they are finished nice inside. The ceilings are high." "About 60 years ago a family by the name of Schomo lived there, and had two girls," says Mrs. Burgess. "He was a music teacher. He and his family led the singing at a tent meeting held across from the Raleigh Beinlich garage in Estella."

Lee Fetherbay of Headley Ave., Dushore, has this to say about the old round house: "At the time it was built, it cost about $3200 or $3300. After it was built, Marsden went out in the rod and looked at it, and said, 'A man is a darn fool to build a house like that'. The house is well built. It is so solid you can roll it down the hill and it would still be intact. They don't build them like that today." Mr. Fetherbay says there is woodcarving on the front entrance, and rope work along the eaves, and hand carved brackets under the edge of the roof. The roof on the cupola is of copper and the catwalk is covered with copper. He knows, because he took his knife and scraped off some of the corrosion to see what was underneath.

At Mrs. Evans' request, Mr. Fetherbay removed the main part of the porch and tore off the old summer kitchen and woodshed. He says it was built about 80 to 85 years ago. There was an old log house up in the field, a marvelous piece of workmanship. The logs were hewed and dovetailed. That is all gone now. There was running water in the round house at one time, from a spring near the old log house.

Lee says he lived there in about 1898 for 5 to 6 years. The Schomo family roomed with the Fetherbays one winter and he taught singing lessons. They had come here with the Fair. He says the George Norton family also lived there.

Mr. Fetherbay also says that each side of the octagon house is 16 feet across, and that the interior workmanship was excellent. However, sometime during the recent years, thoughtless and inconsiderate tenants hewed the underpinning timbers in the basement, using the chips for firewood. This has not helped the stability of the framework. When the latches on the solid walnut doors failed to work, they bored holes and strung rope through, and drove nails into the casings to slip the rope over to keep the doors closed. Lyman Snyder believes that Anthony Gleockler, grandfather of Chester Gleockler of Forksville, built the round house for Marsden. Gleockler was a cabinetmaker, and a good one. He built the old pulpit in the St. Peter's United Church of Christ, at Elkland, which has now been placed in the basement of the new church. He also built two chairs which are in the church.

In 1854, a book on "Octagon Mode of Building" was published by Fowler & Wells, Publisher, of New York. In support of his claim of superiority of the octagon building over other types, the author, O.S. Fowler, states, "Form embodies an important element of beauty. Yet some forms are constitutionally more beautiful than others. Of these the spherical is more beautiful that the angular, and the smooth and undulating than the rough and projecting. Why is it that a poor animal, or a lean person, is more homely than the same animal or person when fleshy?"

Yet another tradition claims that the Octagon House is haunted. In fact, as a young boy in the early 1950s, Bob Sweeney can remember his father, Robert G. Sweeney, telling him about the old "Chaffee" haunted house. When his father was a teenager, a common dare among his friends in Towanda was to spend a night in the Chaffee house. Apparently, no one could spend the whole night there. Bob, Jr. never made the connection until fifty years later that his Dad was referring to the Octagon House. In 1978, an article in The Sullivan Review discussed the reputation of the structure as a Haunted House.


Interior and Closeup of Window
Octagon House Before Restoration
About 1990
Photos Taken by Laurie Gleockner

What more do we know or can we learn about the builder, original and subsequent owners, and history of Octagon House?

The name Glöckler like many old European names was many times misspelled over the years. From town to town, where family members moved, also gave way for miscommunication and spelling errors. It was probably difficult with the old heavy accents to understand some of the pronunciations. In the 1860 and 1870 federal Census, Glöckler is spelled Cleckner and some of the family members that moved to the Canton, PA area spelled the name Gleckler. In Sayre and Elmira, it is spelled both Gleockner and Gleckner. People in Old Germany were named according to what they did, a trade, etc. The true name is Glöckler with an umlaut over the O.

Anton Glöckler (anglicized to Anthony) left Germany in 1852 or 1853 for New York City. It is not known if Anton met his wife Margretta on this journey or if they knew each other in Germany. They were married in NYC on April 10, 1853. Margretta is said to have made the journey with her father Philip Baumunk who was a shoemaker, and her two brothers John and Peter. Anton and Margretta’s first 2 children were born in New York. Josephine was born October 4, 1856 and Rosalie was born March 9th 1858. They soon learned of other German families living in a little village called Lake Run, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. Anton, Margretta and their two children moved there and soon after bought 50 acres, built a house, and started farming. After settling happily into their new lives, they found that their deed was worthless and they lost the house and their money. Through hard work and determination, Anton bought another 50 acres from George Schill. After that, he helped build a store and post office for the village. Anthony and Margretta had several children and grandchildren while living at their Lake Run home.

Charles C. Heinze was the postmaster for the post office that Anton built, and he married Anton and Margretta’s daughter Caroline. At Mr. Heinze’s death, that post office was discontinued. Anthony had a furniture business that was mentioned in his will. Pieces of his furniture are still amongst family members today. Some are made with a form of inlay veneering. It is said that Anton introduced veneering to this country. Not much of Anton’s life in Germany is known, so it is a mystery how and where he learned this craft. It mentions in his will that the building on his property used as a store room for “merchandise” and workshop was given to Edward and Adam. Anthony was adamant that none of the land or his “store goods” were to be sold to “outsiders”, but were to be kept in the family. He mentions this several times in his will. He wanted his family to live and work together there and be buried in the family cemetery so as to be together forever in eternity. This small cemetery, which is behind the homestead in Lake Run, is the final burying place of Anton and Margaretta. There are also several shallow indents at the grave site that may contain other members of the Glöckler family. Some think that they may be small children that died young. You can see a picture of the grave marker for Anton and Margretta and read more about this burial plot, on the current Bogart property, at the Churches and Cemeteries site on this page. Over time, the family moved to different locations and the property was sold off to others.

Here is the story of the Glockler ("Gleockler") family as told to us by Lynne O'Brien:

It has been known in the Glockler family since forever that Anthony Glockler built the Octagon House but it was not for himself. He had his own farm up the line and built the house for a man from Philadelphia. We used to drive down to Sullivan County often when we were little mostly to hang out at Worlds End State Park. But dad visited family there, like Chet Glockler who lived just over the bridge. My parents often took us up to see the old octagon house with stories of Anton building it, that is, my great-great grandfather.

Anthony "Anton" Glockler built the Octagon House and a couple of churches; I am not sure if the churches survived. A descendant relative of Anthony's, David Beinlich, bought and remodeled the old house. The foundation was still in great shape but he had his work cut out for him My sister Laurie took photos of the house befor he began renovations (shown above). The story is that Anthony emigrated right around 1853. We are unable to find him on passenger lists yet, but he married in New York City on April 10, 1853 to Margretta Baumunk. Her father, Philip Baumunk, was a shoemaker by trade. Her mother was Elizabeth "Eva" Ratig. Anton, as he was called in the old country, was born May 8, 1826 in Baden, now part of Germany. The children of Anton and Margretta were:

Josephine, born in NYC
Rosalie, born in NYC
Elizabeth, born at Lake Run, Sullivan County, PA
David< born at Lake Run, Sullivan County, PA
Caroline, born at Lake Run, Sullivan County, PA
Anthony
Phillip
Charles
Adam
Edward
Christina
Anna Lenora

A relative in Towanda PA, Mrs. Varney, has furniture that Anthony built. She says that he had a furniture bussines at one time and probably introduced veneering to this country. This claim is also made in the histories of Sullivan County. It was amazing to us that this furniture survived in such great shape for as old as it is, including the veneered pieces.

Anthony and family show up misspelled in the Census for Elkland Township at that time as "Cleckler". I alos note that Anthony was postmaster for many years there and, at his death, the post office was discontinued. I am a little confused by that entry. It may have been his son-in-law Charles Heinze who married Caroline Glockler that was the post master. Perhaps someone will clear it up for me.

My cousin David Beinlich, who restored the house with his wife Karen, let me take a few photos of the resotred house (shown here). He confirmed that Anthony played a key role in building this house. there was an old saying that you could take it off its foundation, roll it down the hill, and it would still be intact. David said he had a heck of a time with wiring because the walls were so solid, like a log cabin They have furniture built by Anthony also. His furniture was upstairs with inlay or veneering.

That octagon house no longer looks like a spook house. David has done a nice job. Doris Baumunk told a lot of funny stories. She said that Anthony spoke almost no English at all. The kids did most of the translation for him. He would introduce his grandson, not as Anthony "the third", but as "Antony da tird". They still laugh about that today.

Doris Baumunk, my aunt, gave me the Baumunk geneology with some Glocklers and Baumunks going back to 1653. It was very interesting. They beleive that a few children are buried at the Glockler farm and Charles Glockler should be out there He was killed a year after he was married. It was in one of the Sullivan County newspapers. One child, named Dortha, was born stillborn, or lived a very short time. They beleive she is out there They are going to contact other Glockler family memebers to see if there is a family bible or list of burials. They also mentioned that Anton was a laborer helping to build two churches, one of wich is now just a foundation and the other still stands. We are not sure which churches these are.

I live in Waverly. NY now, although I grew up in Sayre PA. My grandfather Roy Gleockler and his father David moved up here from Elk Run to work at the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The railroad misspelled Roy's name on paychecks as 'Gleockner" and wouldnt let him cash the checks unless he spelled it that way, so it stuck. Our family put money together a while back and bought Anthony and Margretta a headstone for the family gravesite. Dated 1890, it is on what is now the Bogert farm north of L.R. 5601 and east of Lake Run. It was once the Glockler homestead farm. There are several indentations out there at the grave site, as if more are buried out there, but we have no idea beyond Anthony and Margretta. Some say one who died after being caught out in an ice and snow storm got pnumonia and is buried there. I think it is in the records in the Sullivan County courthouse, possibly a child. We just aren't sure.

The preceding account by Lynne O'Brien mentions her conversations with David Beinlich, her cousin and the restorer of the house. We recently also obtained a copy of an interview conducted by two Sullivan County High School students with David and his wife Karen in the Spring of 2000 for a high school history project:

The Round House
An Interview with Karen & David Beinlich
by Jose Elicker and Lee Zelewicz

While driving down scenic roads in Estella, one may not be aware of sites of historical interest on nearby mountaintops. At the top of Forks Mountain is an extraordinary building called locally the "Round House". It is really an octagon, or eight-sided, building which appears round from a distance, thus its nickname. In the mid-1800's, the house was constructed for $3,3000. This unusual house was built by Mr. Marsden for his bride-to-be, Elizabeth Whitely. She lived in an octagon house built by her father. Mr. Marsden decided to build her a house like her family home, but more grand and elaborate. The property was obtained by trading a property in Philadelphia for the 300-400 acre property in Estella. Soon after the property was purchased, they began construction of the round house. One reason people began building octagon houses was to use space more efficiently. It was also thought to have spiritual effects; the shape itself was considered holy, as the buildings had no corners. When putting in the foundation, they had to use dynamite. They wanted a full basement with plenty of headroom. Due to the extra space, it was easier and faster to use dynamite, because like all of Sullivan County, the soil is filled with rocks and boulders.

The living areas of the home were plaster walls, made with horsehair. The trim and woodwork is mostly oak. The house is two full stories with a cupola and a full-sized foundation. The outside walls were tongue and groove clapboard. Over the years, through different tenants renting the home, it received quite a lot of wear and tear. In the 1920's and 30's, the house was rented and stripped of its main supporting beams under the first floor. Any areas in the house where wood could be taken off; renters did so to use as fuel for cooking and heating. Sometime in the late 1950's, the house was left empty, abandoned. It was used only by kids who played and held parties there. It was considered a spooky place; rumors of murders and deaths added to its reputation, making it a scary place after dark. Games were once played there, such as daring a person to retrieve a small flag in the dark from the cupola. Cows and other livestock roamed through the first floor as the yard became pasture.

David Beinlich, present owner of the house, who resides there with his family, spent time playing in the round house as a child. He retained an affinity for the building and wanted to save it. Around 1982 or '83, David replaced windows in the cupola and started patching the roof. From there, the addiction of working to renovate the house became part of his life. He gutted most of the building during renovation, installed new electric and plumbing, along with everything else. One problem he found installing electric and plumbing was running lines between floors. The reason is the walls are stacked, two by six boards nailed with three nails across each board one foot apart. He had to restud most of the walls and jacked up the entire house to install new steel beams under the first floor of support. Almost 20 years after ripping plaster off the walls, dust is still settling in the home. The Round House, as we know it, might not even exist today without the love and care put into it by David Beinlich and his wife Karen.

Note: The preceding interview was conducted as part of a Historical Site & Folklife Inventory for the 1990-2000 term.at Sullivan County High School, in partnership with the Sullivan County Historical Society and the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance based at Mansfield University Center for Arts & Folklife, Mansfield, PA.

Another family mentioned conspicuously in the history of Octagon House is the Fetherbays. This is an old name in Bradford and Sullivan Counties, and has at various times been spelled "Fetherby", "Fetherbee", or "Featherbay". The family came perhaps from Philadelphia to the Stevensville area of Bradford County in the earliest 1800s. From there, they rapidly propagated into several towns and communities within fifty miles, including Estella and Forksville in Sullivan County. You can learn more about this old family at The Descendants of James or Mathew Fetherbee.

Here are portraits of Anton and Margreta (Baumunk) Glockler and also a picture of their homestead in Lake Run.


Anton Glockler
Architect of the Octagon House
Photo Contributed by Lynne O'Brien


Margretta (Baumunk) Glockler
Wife of Anton Glockler
Photo Contributed by Lynne O'Brien


The Glockler Family Homestead
Lake Run, Sullivan County, PA
In the 1890's
Front: Anton and Margretta (Baumunk) Glockler
Middle of the porch: Anna Gleockler Varney
Young men on right: Adam and Edward Gleockler
On left: Carrie Gleockler Heinze and her children: Tony and Lillian Heinze
Photo Taken by Lynne O'Brien

Finally, there is a picture of the large extended Glockler/Henize/Varney family taken at a family reunion between 1900 and 1910. It can be seen on the Old Reunions page on this site.


Veneer Chair at Octagon House
Anton Glockler Made This Chair for the Original Occupants
He is reputed to have introduced the use of veneer into American carpentry
Photo Taken by Lynne O'Brien

Copyright © 2001 Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors before this material can be printed or otherwise copied, displayed or distributed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at ~Sullivan County Genealogy Project (http://www.rootsweb.com/~pasulliv)