Peach Farmers in 19th-Century Amherst CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE
($1). In Sep. 1870, at the State Fair at Manchester, Melendy won $6 for 3d best collection of apples, while a fellow from Goffstown won merely $4 for best peaches; at the County Fair in Milford the next month, Melendy displayed 64 varieties of apples – 38 fall, 26 winter and 5 summer; 7 of grapes; 4 of pears; 1 each of peaches and quinces. Now that is an impressive record.
In the north-most part of town, on 130a farm on Chestnut Hills (formerly the Luther Melendy homestead, now swallowed by the New Boston Air Force station), William B. Sargent (1824-1886), who had arrived in Amherst in 1866/7, grew multiple varieties of grapes, pears and peaches. One indication of his peach crop: in 1879, by 23 Sep., Sargent had “already sent 48 bushels to the Manchester market.” His specialty, however, was the manufacture of wines. He regularly exhibited and won at the agricultural fairs. At the Hillsborough County Fair of Sep. 1871 at Milford, Sargent “showed some very handsome winter rye which weighed 60 pounds to the bushel (taking the first premium at the New England fair), some fine excelsior oats, onions, and a splendid display of domestic wines – grape, currant, elderberry and red cherry.” The local newspaper also reported: “Among the leading exhibitors of fruit at the State fair [Oct. 1876] at Manchester was William B. Sargent, our well known fruit raiser and wine manufacturer, and we notice that he carried off a goodly number of premiums, taking the first on Concord, Hartford Prolific, Catawba, and Dracut Amber. He also had the best general display of grapes.” And at the State Fair in Sep. 1877: “Among premiums awarded to Amherst parties, $5.00 to Wm. B. Sargent on display of grapes, and first on Delawares; also a silver medal for display of native wines ...” At the Goffstown fair of early Oct. 1882, Sargent, who exhibited 13 varieties of grapes, won for displays of peaches and
Delaware grapes. “Mr. S. [was] one of our most enterprising fruit growers and farmers, and his success [was] the reward of no little care, study and labor in fruit-culture,” as the local newspaper noted (Oct. 1877).
In the western part of Amherst, on 84-acre farm on Christian Hill with house at 23 Green Road (“A. Green” on 1858 map): “Among our most successful fruit raisers are the Misses Green, in District No. 4, who annually bring to this market large quantities of apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, etc., which for quality cannot be excelled.” (Farmers’ Cabinet, 22 Sep. 1875.) At this time, Mary (d. 1888) was 64; Jane (d. 1896), 59; and Augusta (d. 1888), 52. This news item is particularly interesting because one could never guess their agricultural occupation from the censuses of 1870 and 1880, where the oldest sister was “keeping house” while the other two were simply “at home.” A male relative shared the house and farm they inherited from their father: in 1870 a brother, working as farmer and keeping a couple horses and 8 cows and 1 sheep, and in 1880 a 27-year-old nephew working as their farm laborer and his wife as servant.
In the western part of town, on 76-acre farm: Farmer Joseph P. Trow (1826-1907) presented the newspaper editor “a basket of Crawford peaches, large, handsome and luscious” at the end of August 1880. The following year: “Among the successful peach growers, in this section, is Mr. Clarence Trow [(1860-1952); Joe’s son, all of 20 years old, at this time], whose orchard on “Christian Hill” has yielded some 30 bushels, with 20 bushels of the Crawford variety ripening. Mr. Trow sends his fruit to the Boston market.” (Farmers’ Cabinet, 9 Sep, 1881.) In 1891, at the Souhegan Grange fair at Amherst, C. L. Trow exhibited “18 plates of apples, 16 of pears, 5 of peaches, 4 of plums, 4 of grapes.” Clarence “engaged with his father and brother
in milk, fruit, and berry production, with the exception of a year or so in the management of a general country store in Amherst village. In Amherst, he served six years upon the school board, as tax collector two years, and selectman one year.” He married 1893 and removed in 1894 to Milford where he ran a poultry operation. (N.H. Agriculture Personal and Farm Sketches, by Henry Metcalf, 1897; portrait photo with stupendous mustache on p. 195.)
On the eastern side, on 200-acre farm partly in Amherst and partly in Bedford, N.H. (house in Amherst at 348 Route 101), “our friend Hartshorn of “the Hillside” [grew] delicious Peaches, of which they have an abundant supply, which they will soon bring to this market.” The farmer was Timothy Hartshorn (1793-1868), who owned and occupied the place since 1831, and the year was 1862 when some of his adult children ran a boarding school there.
In the northern part of town, from a farm of about 120a on Chestnut Hills: Farmer James U. Prince (1828-1897) “realized” $30 from one load, comprising four barrels of fall apples and nine baskets of peaches, delivered at Manchester in Sep. 1890; the apples were Gravestens [Gravenstein?] and brought $5 per barrel. At the Goffstown fair late Sep. 1882, Prince exhibited “80 varieties of apples, pears, and grapes.” At the Souhegan Grange fair in Amherst in Sep. 1891, he exhibited “potatoes, cabbages, squashes, beans, sweet and feed corn, 20 plates of apples, 3 of grapes, 9 of peaches.” Prince died on the farm on which he was born, in house built by his father. His estate auctioned off 2 mares, 7 milch cows, 1 bull, 1 beef cow, 1 shoat, and chickens.