Historic Amherst

Peach Farmers in 19th-Century Amherst     CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE

More Peach Tree Locations

      Here are nine more farmers who grew peaches in Amherst, four of them in the 1850s and the others in the latter part of the 19th century. These are just the ones who somehow got their peaches mentioned in the newspaper.

      In the northeast part of Amherst, 2 miles from the Village (probably on Austin Road), a 70-acre farm “produces Apples, Pears, Peaches, Cherries, Plums, Currants, &c., in abundance”; “contains pasturing enough to keep 6 cows, and produces hay sufficient to winter twice that number; has a good share of the best of tillage-land, the soil being a sandy loam; and 8-10 acres covered with wood and timber.” Besides the “large” one-story house, there were two barns – one 18 x 44 feet, the other 26 by 35 feet; pump for water in the house, and aqueduct (piped water) at barn” – as of Feb. 1854 when offered for sale by John W. Bruce (1816-1912). Bruce won for best musk melon at the annual Hillsborough County Fair of Oct. 1853 held at Milford. (John was born in the New Boston tavern-inn of his father, James Bruce; worked as a cordwainer (shoemaker) in South Reading, Mass. when he married in 1847; and probably moved to Amherst in 1852 to switch to farming and to be near his father, then living in Mont Vernon. John stayed in Amherst only a few years, moving to Carlisle, then Reading, Mass. where he continued as a farmer.) The next owner, Jeremiah Upton is shown on 1858 map.

       In the northern part of Amherst, 4.5 miles from the Village, a 60-acre farm on Chestnut Hills had “a good Apple and Peach Orchard, and a variety of Pear, Plum, and other Fruit Trees,” the rest of the land being “well divided into Mowing, Pasturing, Tillage and Woodland” – as of Nov. 1854 when it was offered for sale by farmer Moses B. Stewart (1785-1868; died at Bedford, buried Amherst in Chestnut Hill Cemetery). There were a story-and-a-half house, a good barn, and sheds on the

premises. Stewart owned & occupied this farm since 1825, having bought it from his first wife’s father, Arbuckle; but Moses had already moved out West (Illinois, where his second wife died in 1855) before he was able to unload the farm at auction in 1856. Owner on 1858 map was R[obert] Fletcher.

      In the eastern part of Amherst on Baboosic Lake Road, “about 2 miles from the Village on the road to Reed’s Ferry” (which was in northern part of Merrimack on Merrimack River, located at the bottom of present Depot Street), a 60-acre farm that was typically “divided into mowing, tillage and pasture land” and included 25a of wood and timber land, also contained (in 1852) “an Orchard of young trees, mostly Baldwins [apple], and another of large trees that have been grafted with different kinds; also Peach, Plum and Pear trees of different kinds.” There were “upwards of 200 grafted apple trees” (1855). Josiah M. Parker (1805-1885; married 1833 at Amherst to Maria/Moriah A. Cash; buried Perham Corner Cemetery of Lyndeboro) owned and occupied this farm, on which stood a house and a cooper’s shop that lay a short distance SW of the lake, from 1830 to 1858, when he moved to Lyndeborough.

      A quarter mile north of the Courthouse (now Town Hall), a 30-acre farm – formerly known as William Low homestead, as J. L. Hardy’s on 1858 map, bounded westerly by Mack Hill Road, with house (built c. 1774) at 6 Dodge Road – besides mowing, pasture, tillage and wood land, had a “valuable orchard of apple and peach trees.” This was in Nov. 1851 when it was offered for sale by Manuel Moar (1823-1896), a machinist living in Nashua before and after, who only owned and occupied this farm for a year, so the fruit trees were likely established by a predecessor.

      In the northeast part of Amherst, on 100-acre homestead with house at 29 Austin Road, Charles S. Parker (1843-1926) produced

hundreds of barrels of cider and vinegar (1875, 1878), but also grew peaches (1881). Charles acquired the place in 1869 from his father, Thomas B. Parker (1810-1892) who had bought the farm in 1852. Thomas was a cooper in 1880 census – I bet he was making barrels for his son’s specialty liquids. (Around 1899, Charles moved to Milford, where he ran a grocery store with his son for a time.)

      The following also grew peaches:  Deacon Z. G. Perry grew peaches “near the shore of Lake Babboosic” (in 1875); and Oliver Carter (1810-1901) on Chestnut Hills (1881), as evidenced by their gifts to the newspaper editor, but whether for market or just for home use is unknown. Among the exhibitors at Souhegan Grange fair at Amherst in late Sep. 1891 were: A. M. Wilkins, who displayed peaches and tomatoes, and Geo. F. Hill with squashes, potatoes, pears, apples, peaches.

Private Gardens

      The earliest location for peach trees in Amherst, a private garden, comes from notice dated 5 Sep. 1833: “$20 REWARD. Last night two persons entered my Garden and took the Peaches from two trees, supposed between one and two bushels, nearly ripe – also the Plumbs from a tree which bore for the first time. I will give the above reward to any person who will give such information as may lead to the detection of the thieves. E. [Edmund] PARKER, Amherst.” This was Hon. Edmund Parker (1783-1856), a lawyer and judge, who since 1815 owned and occupied the house at 12 Main Street. The lot’s garden extended to the land now occupied by the Library. That reward was a large sum of money back then. Unfortunately for him, his location was right at the corner passed by many locals coming into the Village to shop and passed by most north-south travelers.

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