NPS Photo, Marsha Wassel
German immigrant Frederick Roeder was a prosperous baker, the father of seven children. 1861was not turning out to be a good year for Mr. Roeder. In March Roeder buried his wife, Anna Maria; the following month Civil War erupted, Virginia seceded and soon after Harpers Ferry became a war zone--businesses collapsed and the local economy crashed.
The Fourth of July was normally a day of celebration, but not this year--not 1861. A Union sympathizer, Roeder longed to catch a glimpse of the United States flag flying on the Maryland shore. Venturing out to the Potomac River, he gazed across at the Stars and Stripes, only to be struck down by a ricocheting bullet fired by a Union soldier. He crawled back to his home, where he died.
Roeder was the first townsperson to die during the war. His home, business and other property were confiscated by the Union Army for use as a military bakery, post office and headquarters.
His orphaned children abandoned their home, but returned a year later and lived here until 1881. They filed claims with the government for extensive wartime damage to this house and other family property. They were finally approved for compensation of $504.00 in 1906.
Mr. Roeder’s Confectionery
The enticing smell of bread, cakes, candies, and pies undoubtedly attracted many customers to Frederick Roeder’s Confectionery, making it a prosperous business from 1845 to 1861. In addition to his store, it is reported that he carried small pies to the train station to sell to hungry passengers before the days of dining cars. By 1856 Roeder was so successful that he enlarged this structure by one and a half stories, creating much needed space for his business and family of 7 children. Thriving in his adopted homeland, this German baker turned skills from his native country into sumptious treats for his friends, neighbors and community.
Did You Know?
Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry in 1783 and wrote "The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature."