Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Aerial View of the Ellis Farm

The town of Barnard was given a charter on July 17,1761.  However, the first settlers in East Barnard did not arrive until 1785.  Moses Ellis settled on the place now owned by Mrs. De Rothschild.  His farm was in the Ellis family for 165 years.  The stone quarry on Ellis Mountain furnished granite for many foundations and for door steps for many homes in the valley and for houses as far away as Woodstock, Vermont.  The wall around the Billings mansion is built with Ellis Mountain stone.  The forgoing was taken from a publication called The Harbor a Glimpse at East Barnard.  Published in 1976 by the East Barnard Community Club.
   The dam at Billings Living History Farm is also of Ellis Mountain stone but the Granite Quarry is another story.   

Moses with his brother, Joseph, were the ones who came to Barnard, VT. from Walpole, MA. in 1785.  Moses at age 16 settled the Ellis Farm that is dated 1785.  This is painted on the big barn probably at the year of completion.  His brother Joseph settled an adjoining farm.  This is supposition on my part but I feel that the move from Walpole to Vermont was prompted by the offer of free land since Vermont had not yet achieved Statehood. The adventuresome spirit of the young men of that era probably had a lot to do with it.

Photograph of Ellis Farm circa 1925

I had heard about the “Ellis Farm” since I was a young boy. Indeed I had grown up with a picture of a lady on a horse just below the barn.  The picture had been taken sometime in the 1920’s or 30’s.

 None of my family had ever been to the farm in Vermont until my younger brother, Bill, was stationed in Boston during the Korean War.  He had an opportunity to visit the farm while on leave.  He was told the Rothschild’s were away from the farm but Bill was allowed to drive up and visit. He was met by the Gardner who showed him around.  This would have been in the 1950’s.

My first visit to the Farm came sometime in the 1970’s.  There was to be an international Physical Therapist Convention in Montreal, Canada.  Plans were made to drive to the convention by way of the Ellis Farm.  When we arrived in Barnard, VT.  I called the farm and was greeted by the Baroness de Rothschild.  She was a very gracious lady and invited us to come out and gave me directions to drive there.  Arriving at the farm we were met by the Baroness who invited us to look at the house, barn and her rose garden, in which she had been working.  In a cashmere sweater I might add.  She allowed me to take as many pictures as I wanted.

Barn at the Ellis Farm taken in 1999

She also shared several stories about her life there.  She said that, “at first the neighbors predicted that now that the Baron had purchased the place he would probably repaint the barn and paint out the Ellis name. That is precisely what he did but with orders to repaint the name and as long as he owned the farm the name would always stay.”

  She told another of a visit she had had from my Dad’s brother Bert.  Bert had come from Iowa Falls, Iowa and he brought a seedling black walnut tree for her to plant at the farm.  She gave him a native pine tree to take back to Iowa. 

East Barnard Cemetery taken 1999
The Baroness is buried in the cemetery in East Barnard.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

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