Agriculture - Farming the Edges

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Farming the Edges

When Janet Montgomery left her estate to her brother and sister-in-law, Edward and Louise Livingston, in 1828, she was passing it on to a branch of the family for whom the Hudson Valley would always be a part-time, if much beloved, home.

Janet was the only owner of Montgomery Place who lived there year-round; each subsequent generation spent only summers and some holidays or weekends there as a country place. For this and other important reasons, faming operations (and staff) at Montgomery Place would be seriously cut back during the 19th century.

Setting in motion substantial changes to the agricultural nature of Montgomery Place that would unfold during the following decades, Louise and Edward immediately reduced a farm staff they viewed as unnecessarily large and, in some cases, untalented. With Edward's New Orleans-based career as a federal politician, this mostly urban couple had neither the time nor the financial necessity to earn a living through farming. Nor did they have the knowledge; with some anxiety, Louise wrote to her husband that her "ignorance of rural economy" made it difficult for her to streamline operations or make good hires at their new estate in the absence of his input.

Sheep grazing at Montgomery Place, from Harper's Magazine (1885).

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