- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, boxes of little ducks, containers with larger birds and even a few goats began arriving in the beds of pickup trucks, pulling up next to a simple wood frame building at the sprawling farmers market in Charlotte Hall.
Men who already had arrived there, some in horse-drawn vehicles, received the deliveries, marking the boxes with numbered slips of paper and also sticking those numbers on the goats’ heads as they were herded into a chute. All of the animals soon were lined up in an orderly fashion in a hallway leading to an auctioneer’s perch, an auction table and two sets of bleachers, in anticipation of the arrival of the people who would fill every seat and start making their bids.
Simeon Stoltzfus proposed the twice-monthly auctions a couple of years ago to the property’s owner, who rented out the space to the Thompson Corner area resident, and provided the boards and paint to spruce up the venue.
The auctions proved to be successful. Stoltzfus, 38, kept hosting them through the first day of August.
He went home that evening and suffered an asthma attack. He died two days later.
The auctions have continued, with the help of three of Stoltzfus’ friends who work in an office space at the events, a pair of other friends who serve as the auctioneers and his oldest of seven children, 13-year-old Matthew Stoltzfus.
The teenager said he accompanied his father to the auctions from the beginning, and helped set things up and get the boxes lined up to go on the table.
“I was carrying stuff out of the way, carrying animals out, ... after [each lot] was sold,” he said shortly before an auction held two weeks after his father’s death. “I don’t want to run this. I just keep on doing what I was doing, carrying stuff out.”
Matthew’s father, whose primary occupation was his construction business, would reach in a box during auctions and hold up a pigeon or guinea hen for the bidders to see.
“I don’t know if I can hold stuff up,” his son said. “Probably, some other guy will.”
And everyone already knows what needs to be done.
“All of them are friends. We know all of them very well,” he said. “They know what to do when they get here.”
He came to the farmers market that day directly from his summer work cutting tobacco at another farm, and said he plans to resume going to school this month, until his 14th birthday in October.
Ben Burroughs Jr., the owner of the farmers market, said Stoltzfus’ father did a “tremendous job” with the auction, and that he plans to assist the young teenager and other participants in continuing that success.
“I’m going to try to help him do what his father did,” Burroughs said.
Stoltzfus is adjusting to taking on responsibilities that came with his father’s death.
“It was hard, but my grandfather helps a lot ... [with] everything he can,” Stoltzfus said, crediting Henry Byler, his mother’s father, with “taking care of stuff, and making sure that stuff gets done.”