The Lester Davis Home as a Farm


Charles Carl, a Poospatock, 1930-1940's; buried at reservation. Davis Erhardt Collection

Potatoes on Davis farm. At rear, Charles R. Davis throwing potatoes. In front, from left to right, Daniel R., Lester H. Davis II, and Homer Davis. Davis Erhardt Collection.

There are two wing additions on the house. The first wing is one and a half stories. It was built about 1860. This wing also has "lie on your stomach windows." The second wing is one story and was added in the 1890's.

As you read earlier, Brookhaven Town held its annual meetings at the house from 1790 to 1884. During town meetings horses were traded, relatives talked, stories were told, and dinner was served for fifty cents. Also during town meetings there were baker wagons, oyster stands, farm implement salesmen, and others all outside the house. This was a great opportunity for peddlers to show their wares for anyone who wanted to vote had to show up at the Davis house. The west front room was the area for voting and the upper rooms were for counting votes. The Justices of Peace served as inspectors and the voting lasted until sundown.

Farming and Business

The following information is taken from Davis family records. The farm was purchased in 1818 and approximately 50 acres were under cultivation the rest was woodland.

I. Daniel Davis 1782-1829
1. Used the home as a general store and also operated a tavern
2. Grains such as barley, wheat, rye, buckwheat and corn were raised.
3. Hogs, sheep,
Cows and chickens were raised.
4. Flax was grown, which was then spun into cloth and linen.
Wood chopped and split for family use and sale
6. Hay, used for animals and for sale

II. Lester H. Davis I 1807-1886

General store abandoned during his lifetime. The tavern stopped the sale of liquor but meals still served. Town meetings and elections continued until 1882 when the town became sufficiently large to hold elections in each district.

The farm continued to grow grains and raise cows, hogs, sheep, and chickens. But now new crops such as asparagus and potatoes were added. Fruit trees were added such as peach, pears, plums, and assorted berries

In 1837 Lester Davis experimented with the silk industry. Planting Mulberry trees they tried to grow silk. A quote about the venture states. " Silk… we received sometime since, skein of sewing silk, from Mr. Lester H. Davis of Corum, in Brookhaven. This silk which is pronounced of a fair quality, was manufactured from the cocoons in the family of Mr. Davis. He has now growing 100 white Italian maulberry trees about 60 of the Morna Multicalls. He fed about 500 worms the past summer, from which he manufactured 500 skeins of silk. Mr. Davis is confident of the success of the undertaking, and that the business will ultimately become to him a source of profit."

III. Daniel R Davis 1854-1944

During this time period they ceased to cultivate asparagus when the competition becomes too keen. The peach farm is sold. Other orchards are abandoned when supply of fruit exceeded demand and cultivation was no longer profitable. Strawberry bed continued. Wood business increases with cordwood shipped on freight cars. Still raising livestock.

IV. Lester H. Davis 1891

The milk from cows sold to hospitals. Hogs raised are sold to butchers. Wood for fuel sold also for ship timber and locust sold. Chickens raised for personal use.

V. Lester H. Davis (1926 - )

The last owner of the house, Lester H. Davis the third (1926- ) kept a herd of 140 cows. He used to bring them across the street everyday to graze in the fields. Then in the 1960's, increasing traffic developed and he would need a police officer to stop traffic to let them pass. That and high taxes made him give up the dairy business. Eventually most of the farm was sold a shopping center and houses were built on the former farm.

A grant of $330,000 was obtained by members of the local civic organization to refurbish the house. In 1999, Brookhaven Town purchased the home from Lester Davis, and restoration efforts are in the planning stages. It is the goal of the Longwood Historical Society to restore the home to its former glory.

Picking strawberries.

Click here to see the farm diary of William Davis - 1871

This information was compiled by,
Joseph Vetter
Gavin McIntyre
Jeremy Soganics

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