NCN Online Archives

Cannon Ball Recalls History of Old Melbourne Farm on Rt. 202
Unknown author*

A Revolutionary War cannon ball sits in Yorktown High School these days, a relic of two centuries ago found near the Elementary Curriculum Center on the site of the new school off Route 202.It is a viable token of the wealth of history surrounding the Curriculum Center, known to old timers in the area as the Melbourne Farm.

"When was the beginning?" an eager pupil might ask, looking at the change now taking place amid contractors equipment.

The beautiful acreage on which stands the farm house has an historical background dating into the middle of the 18th century. This property is only a section of the vast allotment that the original title covered.

Strang Home Nearby

First there was a grant from the King of England on which was placed a Royal Sear. Parcels of the land were sold to relatives and acquaintances; but the most cherished never changed hands.

On one part of these grounds stood the log cabin in which Capt. Henry Strang of the American Revolution lived as a farmer. He was born in 1739. Recently many modern homes were erected over this locale.

Later his son, in 1812, built a fine home, known as the Strang Homestead. It is still standing, across the road from which was his fatherís dwelling. This parcel, too, was included in the original grant.

More bits of evidence left tell the story.

A grist mill, at the pond, below the present Curriculum Center, was in full operation for many years. To the grist mill farmers for miles around brought their grain to be ground.

Cupola Added

During these days, the first house on the land, later called the Melbourne Farm, was small. It was passed on from father to son, to his daughter and then to her son, the late farmer, John A. Barnes.

However, in 1893? A fine home, the present house, was planned. On the west side of the original building, there were added four rooms and a long hall from the front entrance to the back. A two-story cupola crowned the front of the house, the lower part of which nestled between the old and new section.

A record of these changes at that time and the marriage of the youngest descendant which followed in June 1896 were printed in the Highland Democrat. The property, now, was named Melbourne Farm.

Dairy Farm Operated

Then, as time marched on, a few years later, the footsteps and voices of six merry children could be heard as they played about the property.

A dairy farm was operated by John A. Barnes for a number of years. The cows, horses, and their fodder were housed and stored in a 90 foot gray barn erected by him, and milk was carried daily on a route to the village. The farm house was always painted yellow with a white trim.

Everyone was always welcome at the farmhouse. Joyful birthday parties, wonderful picnics, and gay Christmas holidays were celebrated with the young folks of the countryside attending.

District 4 was the name of the little gray school house that the children of Yorktown attended. Traveling west it stood just over the hill from the farm. The teacher taught pupils from the first grade through the eighth in the one room - many of whom are now prominent residents in the community.

As young people have always enjoyed Yorktown, as today as progress is made in education upon this acreage, full of history, may the memory of the original owners and their descendants, who are lovers of children, be ever sacred.

M.L.B.

[Picture caption: The Barnes Homestead at Melbourne Farm, Yorktown, looked like this in 1919. The center cupola was destroyed by fire about a decade ago, and the building remodeled without it. The farm house is now the Yorktown School District Elementary Curriculum Center.]

Source: The Yorktowner, Issue and date unknown

* Thanks to her daughter's efforts, the author of this article is no longer unknown. She was Mary Lucille Barnes Orth, a descendent of the Strang family.

Click here to read related article.


Return to the North County News Online Archives