Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 69, 1894

Item in Regard to Fern Hill Farms.


Late 1894

Previously unpublished.

This is called Fern Hill Farms. It is far superior to the Fairlight place. We went through the house, which was built by employed convicts, of large square blocks of stone. These stones were very nice. There were large, broad, moon-shaped piazzas, very large halls, and rooms twelve or fourteen feet high and beautifully ornamented. Two immense mirrors were built [into] the walls. There was a cellar under the whole house. Everything was built firmly, but the woodwork of the windows was rotted away and would have to be renewed. There was light in abundance. 9LtMs, Ms 69, 1894, par. 1

The place was run down but the land was good, the location beautiful, the scenery grand. There were beautiful flowers and trees in the yard. One tree was a curiosity. It is called the red coral tree, and resembles the shape of coral in blossoms and the stems are red. The flower was small, tulip shaped, sharp red, thick, and cup-like in form. This was a most desirable place. But the money—where was it to come from? About one thousand acres were cleared, but in consequence of ignorance and laziness had been given up to pasturage for the cattle, and had not been cultivated in years. Thus it is with most of the lands in these colonies. The water supply is the rainwater from the roof. 9LtMs, Ms 69, 1894, par. 2

Now where is the man who invested so much money in this immense building? The old gentleman who owned the place is dead. His son took possession and spent means like water, but did not manage the farm to bring in the means to keep up for the outlays. He sold his place and now lives in a hovel. 9LtMs, Ms 69, 1894, par. 3

This is the case with very many in this country. They are too indolent to work the land, and find out that the land alone, uncultivated, will not keep them in food and clothing. Farms everywhere are turned into paddocks for grazing and dairy purposes, and income from the dairy business is about all the income they receive. Their orange and lemon orchards are left to decay. 9LtMs, Ms 69, 1894, par. 4

We rode on, doing some considerable contemplating. The climate is exceeding hot in summer and cold in winter. There are serious drawbacks to this place, and many things very desirable. But I have felt no burden to inspect new locations. I had a severe headache brought on by the heat and when we reached the depot, a commodious building, I dared not go on the cars as I came from Granville, neither did I dare to pursue my way in the platform wagon without cover. I gave my head a thorough bath from time to time for one hour, then ventured the wagon. May Lacey was with me. Willie was driving the horses. Providence was favoring us. 9LtMs, Ms 69, 1894, par. 5