Frederick's Early Realtors
In late April, the Frederick County Association of REALTORS® celebrated its 100th anniversary as an organization with a joyous Platinum Jubilee Gala held at the Great Frederick Fairgrounds Event Plex. This was the signature event in a special year of activity which affords present-day members the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of past realtors in Frederick's history, and how they helped shape the Frederick we enjoy today. Many of these individuals are buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The Frederick Board of Real Estate was organized on February 8th, 1922 with founding principles created to promote the real estate profession and foster professional behavior in its members (including its own code of ethics) which still reign supreme today. For 100 years, this body, known today as the Frederick County Association of REALTORS®, has demonstrated important leadership in advocacy for a myriad of community issues relating to the real estate trade.
With over 1350 current members, FCAR stands as the county’s largest trade association. Holding tried and true all these years later, the overarching mission is that of serving as the “Voice for the Frederick Property Owner.”
Much discussion and planning would eventually culminate in the organization of a body of this kind in Frederick, Maryland in February 1922. It would be named the Frederick Real Estate Board. The group had received considerable guidance from Baltimore City’s Board of Real Estate and another that had been recently started in Cumberland. The first official announcement would take place at a meeting held on February 9th and the Frederick News shared information about this new group's start and exclaimed:
“Along the lines of recent developments towards the adoption of a more progressive method of doing things for the betterment of the community and conditions in general, the real estate agents of Frederick city and county have organized a real estate board which is in line with similar movements made elsewhere throughout the United States. Like the Chamber of Commerce and the recent campaign in the interest of the new community hotel, this organization is a step forward in the development of a better realty situation and it will reflect a corresponding benefit to the real estate owners and purchasers as well.”
The early goals of this organization included “the promotion and advancement of general real estate and house building interests of the city by cooperative effort; and, where possible, the discouragement and prevention of the introduction of other elements into the community which would have a depreciatory effect upon the surrounding real estate.”
Frederick’s Real Estate Board took aim at cooperating with the Frederick Chamber of Commerce and other civic and business organizations in encouraging public improvements to accommodate property owners and securing an equitable system of taxation.
The new group set out to further promote Frederick as a location for new and desirable business enterprises, while making important strides to rid, or clean-up, existing “dirty industries” for the betterment of the community. Lastly, this body hoped to form equitable rules for the conduct of the various branches of the real estate business upon a high ethical plan. They sought to establish the fact that membership in the organization would be a guarantee of business integrity and responsibility to the general public.
The Frederick Real Estate Board would eventually expand to cover the entire county. In addition, important affiliations would be made between this local Board and both The Maryland Real Estate Board (founded in 1906) and the National Association of Real Estate Boards (founded in Chicago in 1908). In doing this, Frederick’s members received the benefits of experience, advice and best practices from a network of real estate professionals elsewhere in the state, and country. Today, the Frederick Real Estate Board is known as the Frederick County Association of Realtors®.
In the beginning, the initiation cost to become a member was $10, with an additional dues cost of $10/year. The local newspaper of February 9th concluded by saying:
“An organization such as this cannot but result in great good to the community, and an advancement in the way of improvements, not only in the matter of attaining a city beautiful, but in business conditions generally.”
The Inaugural Board
The driving force behind Frederick’s inaugural Real Estate Board was a talented group of experienced Frederick professionals. These 12 gentlemen would meet once a month in one another’s offices on a rotating basis. The first officers included Richard Potts (President), Markwood D. Harp (Vice President), Walker N. Joliffe (Treasurer), Markell H. Nelson (Secretary) and Noah E. Cramer. The latter, Mr. Cramer (1860-1930), had been Frederick’s leading realty professional and a well-respected businessman over the previous few decades.
Noah E. Cramer was in great company with the initial Board of Directors for the Frederick Real Estate organization. Six years earlier, President Richard Potts was involved with the College Park development surrounding Hood College as a liaison of sorts between the West Virginia-based Swastika Realty firm who owned the building lots, the city officials of Frederick, and customers interested in buying into this subdivision. Potts recognized the importance of local knowledge, insight and connectivity. This prompted him to act in advocating for Frederick to have its own Board of Real Estate in the first place.
Although there were those that worked in the field of residential and commercial real estate before 1922, its important at this time to remember those industry pioneers who put the Frederick County Association of Realtors in play back in February, 1922 by organizing the Frederick Real Estate Board. Interestingly, all five founding officers are buried in Frederick's Other City, Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Richard Potts (1873-1945) came from a prominent family who lived in Court House Square. He was the 4th generation to live at the prestigious home located at 100 North Court Street, on the corner of West Church Street, and across from Frederick’s Courthouse Square. His great-grandfather was Richard Potts, a noted politician and leader in Frederick throughout his lifetime.
After receiving an early education at the Frederick Academy, followed by the Episcopal Academy in Alexandria, VA, Mr. Potts went to work as a clerk at the Central National Bank and Trust Company. In 1914, he entered the real estate business, forming a partnership with insurance salesman David O. Griffin. The firm of Potts & Griffin would last for 30 years until 1943, and was headquartered with an office at 27 N. Court Street, just a short distance from Mr. Pott’s home.
Markwood D. Harp
Markwood Doub Harp (1869-1926) was a Frederick County native from Myersville who received his education in the local schools there. He came to Frederick City for professional work and served as Frederick County’s Deputy Register of Wills before becoming Clerk to the County Commissioners. He would leave that position to become a realtor and lived at 313 Dill Avenue (renumbered to 269 Dill Ave today).
Mr. Harp’s brother, Reno S. Harp, was a leading attorney in town. In the Real Estate Board’s second year, Markwood Harp would take the reigns as president. Sadly, Mr. Harp would die just a few years later in late 1926 after a three-week illness attributed to heart trouble. He was 57 years old.
Markwood Harp would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet's Area C/Lot 142. His first wife, Ada C. Adams, had predeceased him in 1905 at the age of 35, leaving Markwood with two sons, Roscoe and Maynard.
A strong sense of solidarity within the Frederick Real Estate Board was exhibited at the time of Mr. Harp's untimely death. The members attended his funeral as a group and a touching memorial was published in the local newspaper. Also of note is the fact that all members replaced their real estate listings in the December 4th, 1926 edition of the Frederick News-Post with tribute memorials.
Markwood Harp's second wife and widow, Bertha Almeta (Kiracofe), would assume his position in selling real estate and insurance after his death. She would work out of her husband's office at the Pythian Castle on Court Street, and was assisted by her daughter. This would make Bertha, Frederick's "first known female real estate and insurance agent." She lived from 1885-1965.
Walker Neill Jolliffe
Walker Neill Jolliffe was born at Clearbrook near Winchester, Virginia in 1876. He grew up on the family farm to Quaker parents. He clerked at two different stores in his native Frederick County, (VA) before coming to Brunswick in 1896 to clerk for the general store of Jones & Robinson. In 1900, Mr. Jolliffe entered a partnership with H. M. Jones, of Brunswick, and in 1904 these gentlemen established a dry goods, clothing, boot, and shoe store in Frederick City.
Immediate success prompted the pair to open a store in Mr. Jolliffe’s native home city of Winchester. He would soon take up residence at 307 Rockwell Terrace. Walker Jolliffe transitioned over to working here in Frederick in the real estate business in 1919 with his brother, John. The two ran an office at 122 North Court Street. Walker Jolliffe would experience success in his newfound field but would die in November, 1931 of tuberculosis shortly after being sent for treatment at the noted asylum in Sabillasville (MD). He would be fondly remembered at the Board of Real Estate’s 10-year anniversary gala in 1932.
Markell Henry Nelson
Markell Henry Nelson (1882-1973) was born on a farm in Mount Pleasant District in 1882. He acquired his education at the Central School and later went on to the Frederick Academy. For years, Mr. Nelson clerked in a store at Sandy Hook, across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry. Later, he became engaged for a time in the insurance business in Baltimore. In 1908, Markell Nelson bought a mercantile business at McKaig, a small crossroads east of Frederick at the intersection of Gas House Pike and McKaig Road.
Mr. Nelson won election in 1913 to serve in the House of Delegates of the Maryland General Assembly, beginning in 1914. In 1922, he was working as manager of the real estate department for the real estate, mortgage and investment company of John N. Clary with an office at 28 West Patrick Street. In a few years, Nelson would launch his own real estate firm with a business office located at 31 North Court Street.
Noah Edwin Cramer
Earlier in his working career, Noah Edwin Cramer (1860-1930) entered the business world in the dry-goods store of his brother, George L. Cramer. Here, he was employed as a clerk, and he remained with his brother for some time. While still a young man, he re-located to Frederick City, and established himself in the real estate and loan business. From the start, he met with much success, becoming one of the best known and most prominent businessmen of the city by the first decade of the 20th century. Cramer also possessed the general confidence of business and financial circles both here and statewide.
In 1922, Noah Cramer helped champion the Frederick Real Estate Board, while a partner in the firm of Cramer and Stauffer. Besides his real estate and loan business, Mr. Cramer was interested in various enterprises of the county. He also had a pretty interesting home for himself and family—the former home of Maryland governor, Continental Congress member and Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Johnson, Jr. He would also live at 117 Record Street.
Other founding members of Frederick's Real Estate Board in 1922 included John N. Clary (1867-1949), Alfred Wesley Gaver (1876-1940), David Otho Griffin (1884-1954), Grayson Henry Mercer (1879-1945), James Lee Simmons (of Adamstown) (1860-1961), Grayson Hedges Staley (1881-1965) and John Hanson Stauffer, Jr. (1894-1958). All but Gaver are buried in Mount Olivet.
Over this century, this organization has done so much more than its primary role of helping to provide humans with shelter, one of the foremost human necessities. The official mission of the Frederick County Association of REALTORS® is to “support and enhance its members’ professional objectives and adherence to the Code of Ethics. The Association strives to achieve this undertaking by providing quality education for members, promoting professional and ethical behavior, and fostering a positive image within our community.
The Association is committed to the local Frederick community and strives to promote the role of REALTORS® to the public. Members work with legislators to be involved in the political process and protecting property rights. FCAR works closely with Maryland REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® to achieve these goals.”
Happy 100th Frederick County Association of REALTORS®!!!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: To learn more about the history of the Frederick Association of REALTORS®, read my three-part history series by clicking the links below. The story appears on my History Shark Productions website.
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