Thursday, August 6, 2015

Goats - not Ghosts! -- Franklin Butler Lord's Meadow Edge Farm

In the early morning of October 11, 1907, Rev. John J. Fouse ,  was awakened in his parsonage, across the street from the Lawrence Methodist Episcopal Church, by a noise that seemed to come from the Church.  As he watched, a white figure appeared in the doorway and Rev. Fouse crossed the street to investigate.  What he found was not paranormal.

He discovered that the church's new addition was occupied by a flock of forty angora goats, which had wandered in an open door and settled in for the night.  All but one were asleep.  This story appeared in newspapers as far away as the Cincinnati Times and the Daily Arizona Silver Belt.

The goats had escaped from Franklin Lord's Meadow Edge Farm, where they had been purchased to eat weeds on the lawns and meadows. 

Meadow Edge Farm was part of the Lord Family's extensive holdings in The Branch.  Their property extended from West Broadway (the railroad tracks) all the way to the Hungry Harbor Road.  When the property was purchased, around 1880, The Branch area was part of Queens County, and encompassed the watershed later known as Lord's Woods.

Before Franklin Lord's death in 1908, the farm, raised rare Berkshire pigs, White Leghorn chickens, Guernsey, Jersey, Ayrshire and Holstein dairy cows and, of course, the angora goats.  It  was located on West Broadway, a 337-acre site of meadowlands and forests.  During its years of milk production, which ended with the closing of the dairy farm in 1912 (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 5, 1912, p. 14),  it was a consistent winner at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, and at the National Dairy Show in Chicago for excellence in milk and cream. In 1924, the last twenty of the family cows were offered for sale (Daily Review, January 25, 1924). The chickens, which were also award-winning layers, remained well into the 1920s.   In 1926, Lord's sons (S.D., Edward and George) sold the land  to a  real estate syndicate for $2 million.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 5, 1912, p. 14.

Franklin B. Lord, c1900
 (photo courtesy Library of Congress)

Daniel Lord, c1850
 (photo courtesy Library of Congress)
Franklin Butler Lord (1850-1908) came from a family of distinguished attorneys.  His grandfather, Daniel Lord  , had a national reputation as " a remarkable lawyer."  His maternal grandfather, Benjamin F. Butler, was Attorney General of the United States under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.    Franklin Lord was a member of the law firm of Lord, Day and Lord, founded by his grandfather and his father, Daniel de Forest Lord (1846-1899). According to an article in The New York Times  (2/14/1926, p. RE2.), the property was purchased originally by Daniel Lord  for less than $300 an acre, or a total of about $110,000.  It had been in the Lord family for three generations and had been largely undeveloped since its purchase.  By May 1926, advertisements for a public auction of Lord Estate lots were appearing in The Times and other newspapers. 

English and Spanish-style homes designed to sell for less than $12,000 were constructed in 1928.  They were designed to contain six rooms and bath, a built-in standing shower, an extra lavatory and garage. (NYT, 1/17/1928, p.51.)  The seller was listed as the Woodmere-Cedarhurst Corporation. Louis Minsky (1862-1934), the father of the burlesque producing brothers, was the president of the Lord Estate Corporation at the time of his death in 1934 (NYT, 1/17/1934, p. 17).  In 1938, "the Seymour property... known as Sosiego" , twenty acres on Broadway in Lawrence, was purchased by Henry Greenberg and Louis Goldschmidt through Joseph Jackson, a broker, of Lawrence (NYT  7/31/1938, p. 34).  Sosiego was the name of the mansion and gardens built by Daniel D. Lord V, Franklin's brother, and later owned by his daughter Frances Seymour.  (Spinzia, p. 225)  It was located at 20 Westover Place, Lawrence.   The house currently on that site was built in 1921, according to Nassau County tax records.
Blogger S. Berliner shares his thoughts on the Lord's Woods and Robert Arbib's book of the same name.  Arbib, who grew up in the Five Towns of the 1930s and 40s, wrote an evocative account of his formative years exploring the woods, and the process of development that reduced the woods to a small sliver of trees behind the LIPA/National Grid building on Mill Road.

Further reading:
 (may require HW-library card login)

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