Native Americans in early America worked hard to plant and harvest tobacco, melons, corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, artichokes, and nuts, because they lacked domesticated animals to help with the hard labor. Native animals in the New England area consisted of deer, crows, black bears, beaver, otters, bobcats, mink and turkeys.
The Pilgrim leaders at the time were William Bradford of Austerfield, England (whose grandfather and uncles were farmers) and William Brewster of Scrooby, a poor farming town in England. The three remaining Pilgrim leaders were John Carver, Edward Winslow and Miles Stanish, none of which had any farming experience.
When the Pilgrims arrived in America they had found farming land that the Native Americans had cleared before the majority of them died from disease. In April 1621 the Pilgrims started farming. By 1767 the people of Beverly had brought over domesticated animals from Europe to help in the field. In 1767 there were a total of 164 horses, 143 oxen, 741 cows, 1099 sheep, and 37 swine. Some of these animals helped the farmers harvest 586¾ tons of English hay, 367¼ tons of meadow hay and 10,728 bushels of grain. Almost 20 years later, there were still the same number of horses but oxen increased to 164, and cows and sheep both decreased in population (639 cows and 900 sheep). The swine population increased to 260. 1
Farming as a profession in Beverly grew from the years 1681 to 1760, and decreased rapidly from the years 1761 to 1840 . By 1860 there was only one farm in Essex county that was over 500 acres, while the majority of farmland was around 20 to 50 acres. Other counties in Massachusetts had more farms sized 50 to 100 acres. In the 1880, Essex county ranked third in the state for the highest value of farms including the structures on the property. Massachusetts in 1909 accounted for 0.7% of the nation’s gross value of farm products, and by 1919 it dropped to 0.5%. By 1920 the average size of all farms in Massachusetts was less than 80 acres while surrounding states were averaging 80 to 120 acres of farmland.
Raymond farm, which was located in Beverly Massachusetts, was behind present day Henry’s Market in North Beverly. The farm was established in 1654 after the King of England gave the Raymond’s a land grant of two hundred acres to start a farm. 2
Grown on the farm were corn, beans, spinach, and celery. There were also orchards. The Raymond’s possessed dairy cows and a stable that housed horses, hogs, and chickens. There were 60 acres on the farm used for farming and another 101 acres that the Raymond house and stable were on. McKay Street separated the farm land from the barn and Balch Street separated the barn from the stable. Sixty acres of farmland was sold to the Campenelli’s who built homes on the land while the remaining part of the farm stayed in the family until 1968.
The last owners were John William Raymond and Clinton R. Raymond. John William owned and operated the Raymond farm until the day he died; afterwards Clinton became the owner of the land around 1956. Clinton R. Raymond was the last owner of the farm because in 1968 all the remaining Raymond farmland was sold so that more houses could be built. The Raymond house, which was located at 120 Balch Street and built in the 18th century, was located on land that was not originally Raymond land. The Raymond house was located on land that was given to Captain William Trask, which was passed onto John Rayment (Rayment later became Raymond).
Beverly, Massachusetts started off as a farming town, then it evolved to become a center of maritime activity. As the years passed farming became less and less a part of life in Beverly. The land here was not rich in minerals to begin with and it was also very rocky. The farming season was not long compared to Southern regions, so it made more sense for farming to take place in the South, especially after transportation between the two regions became more reliable and faster. Farming began here to sustain life, but as years progressed there was no longer the need to farm in Beverly, so it became obsolete.
Jones, Douglass Lamar. Village and Seaport: Migration and Society in Eighteenth Century Massachusetts. Hanover: University for Tufts University, 1981.
Russell, Howard S. A Long Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming in New England. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1976.
Sillen, Myrtle. Interviewed by Bill Raymond, 19 October 2003. Beverly MA.
Stone, Edwin M. History of Beverly, Massachusetts. Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1843.
US Department of Agriculture. United States Census Non-Population Schedule. Washington, D.C., 1860.
US Department of Agriculture. United States Census Non-Population Schedule. Washington, D.C., 1880.
US Department of Agriculture. United States Census Non-Population Schedule. Washington, D.C., 1920.