W.D. Kelly’s Farm

Submitted by: Sharon M Kouns

Ironton Register, Thursday, June 17, 1858

We took a stroll, the other day, over the farm of William D. Kelly, adjoining Ironton, and we were much pleased and interested with the systematic order everywhere displayed. All its operations seem to be conducted with energy and skill; and all he parts unite and harmonize, although an amount and variety of labor is performed, which very few persons would have as adequate idea of, without a somewhat minute inspection. One would suppose that his garden and green house would be sufficient to occupy the attention, and exhaust the energies of one man, without having super added thereto the management of a large farm, a flourishing vineyard, and constantly increasing nursery.

The farm consists of about 270 acres-not including some 30 acres laid off in lots, which are not reckoned as farm lands. The whole farm has an air of freshness and neatness that is perfectly captivating. Good fences, neatly built, free from brush and briars – crops well put in, and cultivated with care – orchards suitably arranged and neatly pruned – nice farm house, well set off with shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery – commodious barns and stables – in fine, the whole farm presents a picture such as the eye loves to dwell upon.

Mr. Kelly has 35 acres of growing wheat, which gives high promise of an excellent yield. We think it the best wheat we have seen this season, the white, beardless variety. He has some 70 acres in grass – the greater portion being heavy and well set; but we noticed portions here and there where scarcely anything but high weeds was to be seen. In these places Mr. Kelly tells us the grass dried out after mowing it last season – perhaps from upheaval of the soil. He has three acres of sweet potatoes, that give promise of a fine crop, and eight acres of oats that look well. He has 30 acres of corn planted, but the season has been so wet and unfavorable thus far, that it does not give promise of an abundant crop; nevertheless, there is yet time, should the season prove favorable hereafter, for it to recover. Mr. K. raises no Irish potatoes except for family use.

Mr. Kelly is preparing to go into orcharding quite extensively. He has already 2,500 apple trees planted out, a large portion of them already in bearing, consisting of such varieties as experience has shown to be best adapted to this climate – embracing summer, fall, and winter fruit. We notice that the bearing trees have a pretty full crop. He has also 3,500 peach trees, embracing all the choicest varieties of the country. He has been at much pains in selecting his trees from the best nurseries. He has quite a number of peach trees of the more common fruit of the country; and we noticed that these trees were well loaded, while but very few of his choice selections escaped the late frosts. Should not this serve as a hint to fruit-growers? Should not more attention be paid to the improvement and cultivation of such varieties as experience shows most capable of resisting the influence of the late spring frosts, which are becoming of such frequent occurrence in our locality?

We visited the spot where Mr. Kelly is building his new house, on the highest point of the ridge just back of town. And here we behold one of the pleasantest sights we have looked upon for a long time. Standing on the site of the house and casting your eye along on either side of the ridge, to the point where it slopes down to the plain, you take in the whole outline of the farm – skirted by the forest on the one side, and the river and town on the other. The whole seems like a map spread out at your feet. Below you, on one side, are his vineyard, and apple and peach orchard extending down the slopes of two contiguous ridges to the bottom of the valley between, and stretching on until they open into the plain; the other side, ranging the whole length of the ridge is a growth of timber, beyond which are checkered fields of growing corn, and waving grain, and tall meadow grass, and pasture lands, with here and there a clump of trees, swaying to the breeze. From this point the surrounding country is visible on both sides of the river, for several miles in extent. With one sweep of the eye, you take in Ashland, Ky., Ironton, Hanging Rock, and stretching the gaze, Greenupsburg, is distinctly seen looming up from the mist of the river, like Phoenix, rising from the ashes. Mr. Kelly proposes to run up a small observatory here from the top of the house, which will greatly extend the range of vision, and add vastly no doubt to the interest of the scene.

We noticed some choice evergreens, set out by Mr. Kelly, whose beauty was sadly marred by some pilfering hands. This is a mean practice, breaking down shrubbery, although it may be done thoughtlessly. Mr. Kelly welcomes visitors, but reasonably request they will not destroy the fruits of his labors.

We were much interested in examining Mr. Kelly‚Äôs apiary, and noting the various ingredients resorted to, to protect his bees from the ravages of the miller. Mr. Kelly has at present 50 stands of bees, and he has tested every plan, from the old bee gum, up, through the different patents that have been brought into notice, in all their various forms, and has finally adopted one of his own, unlike any other which he had seen, and which comes nearest affording immunity to its industrious occupants against their common enemy. It does not afford complete protection, and Mr. K. is confident that no invention ever will; nevertheless, he meets with great success in his “bee palace.” He arranges the hive or “bee-room” so as to have two compartments, one where the bees shall deposit their “bread” and rear their young, and the other for storing of honey. This he makes by inserting a box capable of hold 16 pounds of honey in the comb, and so constructed as to be most convenient for the bees to guard it against intrusion from the miller. – The arrangement is such that he can frequently inspect the operations of the little community, and lend a helping hand, if their enemies are likely to prove an over match for them. Mr. K. thinks his present plan a decided success.

FOOTNOTE: William Dollarhide Kelly was one of the founders of the city of Ironton.