Nov 11 2015

Traces of the Davis Family at the Historic Dvoor Farm


(Continuing our series on the history of the Case-Dvoor Farm. To visit our last entry, please go here.)

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1873 Hunterdon County atlas identifies the Case/Dvoor house as belonging to O.B. Davis, as well as several homes once owned by miners and another house on Old Croton Road.

John Moses had begun establishing a profitable farm when he decided to convey the property in 1871 to his niece, Lizzie W. Davis, the wife of Otis B. Davis, for $10,000.Originally from New Hampshire, the Davis family had been living in Raritan Township for some time before acquiring the Case farm. It’s possible that the Davis’ were working the farm for their uncle the year before purchasing it because their home was nearby. An 1873 Hunterdon County atlas shows Davis as the owner of the Case/Dvoor Farm House, a house between it and the creek, a house on Old Croton Road on a 12.44-acre lot, and three small houses east of the creek on Shields Avenue.

Elizabeth and Otis Davis owned the land for almost four decades during which time they ran a dairy farm, taking advantage of the property’s stream-side meadows and proximity to Flemington and the railroad. By 1880, the Davis’ had a herd of 30 cows producing 23,000 gallons of milk sold or sent to butter and cheese factories, making it by a wide margin the largest dairy operation in Raritan Township at that time.

The farm had 70 acres of tilled land, 30 acres of permanent meadow, pastures and orchards, and three acres of woodlands. Besides the milk, the farm produced 60 tons of hay, 100 bushels of corn, 90 bushels of oats, eight bushels of wheat and 10 bushels of potatoes. The orchards had 100 apple trees.

The large bank barn on the farm with its ample stable and lofts can be dated architecturally to the time when the Davis family owned the land, and must have been built by them to accommodate their active dairy business. They also likely remodeled some of the interior of the farm house, removing a wall between two downstairs rooms to create one large open space, and by adding new windows. They also probably installed an L-shaped porch around the front and side of the house (removed in the mid-20th century) and a frame addition attached to the back.

By 1888, the entire farm appears to have been cleared land except for a small patch of woodland, which still exists today at what is now the intersection of route 12 and Old Croton Road. The 1900 census reveals that 70-year-old Otis Davis was still farming the land at that time, and that his wife had given birth to four children, only one of whom was alive at that time.

Oldest known photo of the Case/Dvoor Farm House, taken Oct. 4, 1918.

Oldest known photo of the Case/Dvoor Farm House, taken Oct. 4, 1918.

In 1910, Elizabeth and Otis Davis sold their Raritan Township property to Gregor Moser of New York City. They left Raritan Township to live with their son, Charles, in New York City. While much of the story of the Davis family disappears in the mists of time, reminders of their years spent working the farm remain today in the bank barn and the withered old apple tree you can see alongside the garage.

We wish we had photographs of the farm or house during the Davis years, but the oldest known photograph of the home dates to 1918. If anyone has any leads on older photographs of the home, please contact our outreach director, Dave Harding, at dave@hunterdonlandtrust.org.

 


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