The Honorable Ebenezer Smith first gazed upon the land in these meadows as a member of the surveying crew that was laying out lots for the town of Gilmanton. Having an eye for good land, Ebenezer purchased this and much more land at tax sales during the late 1770’s. Judge Ebenezer flourished in the following years as landowner and statesman, having attended the convention to frame the state constitution in 1781. He served as a town proprietor of Gilmanton, a Representative and Senator in the state legislature, president of the Senate for two years, Judge of the County Court from 1784-1787, and Judge of the County Probate Court from 1797-1805. Judge Ebenezer died in 1807. He was 73 years old. He had many children, some of which inherited this land before his death.
His son, Squire Ebenezer Smith, and brother Esquire john both settled the land in the Intervale: Ebenezer at the southern end and John at the northern end. Ebenezer’s home still stands, and is the only remaining federal style building in Gilford. (Ebenezer’s home is now the home of the Sullivan family and their business: “The Canvas Guys”.) He farmed the stone free meadowland of the upper intervale and probably built his barns and out buildings from lumber milled at his sawmill, built in 1789 on Gunstock Brook, upstream where the village is now located. Squire Ebenezer met an untimely death in 1831 and his farm was divided between two sons, John and Ebenezer Jr.
It should be noted that both the Honorable Ebenezer and Squire Ebenezer were very active in local affairs and politics. The Judge served as one of Meredith’s town fathers for many years. Both of their names appear on the petition to create a new town eventually named Gilford. Squire Ebenezer continued on to have the town pound in his front yard. He also was chosen “Hogreeves” in 1813. Ebenezer Jr. acquired his family’s sense of civic duty and served as the pound keeper. (As an interesting tidbit….Hogreeves were town officers chosen to see the law executed concerning yoking and ringing of Hogs. This position was continued year after year, from early times down into the present century, as long as swine were suffered to run at large. The ring in the snout prevented the animal from rooting, and the yoke, of specified dimensions, secured gardens and other enclosures from mischievous intrusion.)
John stayed at the farm and Ebenezer Jr. moved a short distance north and established a homestead and the present farm buildings. Ebenezer Jr. and his brothers and sisters went through a whole series of land sales in April of 1832, after their father’s death, apparently to consolidate the various holdings. Somehow Ebenezer Jr. and brother John managed to divide, presumably in an amicable manner, the prize meadows in the Intervale. Ebenezer Jr. farmed until his death in October of 1838, the year the present barn that our store is in was built. (This date can be seen in the second level engraved in to a post just above the bakery window.)
His son Jeremiah inherited the farm and continued farming here until he sold the farm to Thomas Hunt for $4,500 in 1873. Thomas took a more tagged in the amount of $2,500 with the Belknap Savings Bank and Jeremiah Smith also financed $2,100 of the purchase. Thomas managed his burden for the better part of 4 years, but was foreclosed on by the bank, which promptly sold the farm. In June of 1879, Jeremiah took possession of a piece of land that Thomas had used as collateral in his loan with Jeremiah.
Francis Rand, the grandson of Philbrick, had spent his life farming the stony ground of Gunstock Hill and wanted no more of in by 1872, when he received his share of his inheritance from his father. In May of 1877 he used this to purchase Jeremiah Smith’s farm from the Belknap Savings Bank for $2,534.25. He never toiled with stones again until his death in 1898. (It is interesting to note that nearly 200 years later, Parkman Howe, as owner of the Philbrick Rand farm, gifted part of his farm to his son and daughter-in-law, who in turn a few years later, in 1998, purchased the Smith-Rand farm…that is us: Andrew & Martina Howe. We still own and make our home on the original Rand Farm.)
Oscar, Francis’ son, took over the farm. Oscar developed a prize heard of Hereford beef cattle, and also had a flock of sheep. He also dabbled in politics and served in the state legislation. His picture as legislator stills hangs in the halls of the State House in Concord. Like his father, Oscar farmed until he died in 1947.
Oscar’s daughter, Muriel, inherited the farm, and farmed it with her husband, Arthur Harris, Sr. until his death. Arthur Sr. owned and operated a dairy farm on the original Esquire John Smith Farm. While in his forties, Arthur Sr. had a heart attack and his doctor warned that he could no longer keep up the pace of a dairy farmer, so he sold his farm and moved to his wife’s farm to finish out his few remaining years raising registered Herefords.
Muriel retained ownership of the farm while her son, Arthur Jr. took over operation of the farm. Arthur and his wife Sue raised cattle and children on the farm until 1983, when Arthur died of complications of diabetes. At this time Sue sold the development rights for the meadows to the town of Gilford to forever preserve its integrity as open farm land. Arthur’s wife Sue and her children left the farm a short time later and the farm remained vacant for a year two until Muriel sold it to a grandson. Steve Roberts and his wife Gayle bought it in 1986.
Steve Roberts never farmed the land himself. He leased the farm to us and remained landlord as we established Beans & Greens Farmstand on the property using the barns of the homestead. In these early years the Farmstand was run as a partnership with Brad Thompson, also of Gilford. In September of 1998 we, by then sole owners, bought the farm from the Roberts family.
In closing, this land has been farmed actively since the late 1700’s. This farm is one of only three remaining active farms in Gilford, and has the only remaining barn of the original Smith family farms of the Intervale.