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Smith Farm

The Smith Farm

The Smith family selected a 100-acre tract of good farmland and developed the property with hard work. The land featured gentle sloping hills and a slow, meandering, year round stream called Crooked Creek, which originated near the Hill Cumorah. The property was forested with mature sugar maple trees as well as beech, oak, and other hardwoods. Initially they began clearing the heavily forested land. They felled several thousand trees, some more than 100 feet tall with diameters up to four feet. The trees were used for construction timbers, fence rails, or firewood. Excess wood was burned and the ashes were sold.

Smith Farm Map
One of the trail markers showing the Smith farm.

"We cleared sixty acres of the heaviest timber I ever saw. We had a good place. We also had on it from twelve to fifteen hundred sugar trees. . . . We worked hard to clear our place.
–William Smith

In order to plant crops, they also removed the underbrush and large rocks. The stones were stacked to mark the 1.66-mile boundary of their property and served as a stone base over which they would construct fences. A variety of fences were built using thousands of split rails to keep their property free from wandering livestock

The cleared fields were used to plant grains such as wheat, barley, rye, corn, buckwheat, and oats. Smaller gardens on the property included potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, beans, pumpkins, squash, and flax. These harvests fed the family, the livestock, and the remainder was sold at market. Flax was spun into cloth, used for curtains, and became another item to sell. The Smith's also planted and fenced an apple orchard containing a variety of apples from about 36 trees.

Stone Fence
This picture shows some of the remnants of an old stone fence on the Smith farm.
Forty acres were left in standing wood lots to provide fuel, staves for the cooper business, building materials, and sugar production. The family had moved from Vermont, which is still famous for the production of maple syrup today. Producing maple syrup had been done in early spring since the pre-Columbian era in America; it is highly dependent on weather conditions. The flow of sap begins after a hard freeze followed by several sunny days and lasts roughly three to four weeks. The flow will stop when daytime temperatures do not go above freezing, or when night temperatures do not go below freezing. The Smiths would tap 1,200 to 1,500 sugar maples, collect the sap, boil it down, and produce 1,000 pounds of sugar annually.

The meadows on the property were mowed one or twice each season and were commonly set aside for winter grazing. The Smiths caught fish in Crooked Creek and small game from the swamp area. The pelts were bartered or sold in town. The swamp also provided cattails that were used as gasket materials for lids of barrels that the family made in their cooper shop.

Stafford Road cut right through their property as a rutted, ungraded wagon trail. Traveling distances were about two miles north to Palmyra village, and six miles south to Manchester village. The Smith family's granary, cooper shop, and log and frame home bordered Stafford Road and would have been conveniently located for doing business or taking things to and from market. By 1830, the twelve years of labor on the 100-acre property had turned the forested land into a quality self-sufficient farm produced by their family unity, thrift, and hard work.

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