Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lewis Dairy Farmhouse

July 2016
This graceful Victorian-style home at 313 Jackson Road, Kerrville, was erected by Judge Danforth Rogers Lewis in 1914 for his family home after he purchased land for a dairy on the outskirts of Kerrville. The land today is Westland Place.  The house is not in its original location.  It was reportedly moved from the corner of what is now West Main and Jackson Road when the land was sold for development about 1925.  The concrete picnic table in Westland Park was once the watering trough in the dairy barnyard. The house originally had seven bedrooms and no indoor plumbing.

47-year-old Danforth R. Lewis and his family, including wife Lucinda, daughter Mary, and son Arthur L. "Pinky" Lewis, came to Kerrville in 1914 from New York.

D. R. Lewis received his L.L.B. in 1896 from Cornell University and practiced law in Auburn, NY.  He first ran for office in 1897, campaigning as a Republican for Justice of the Peace.  He served 1897-1901, then was elected special county judge in Cayuga County and served three terms. He had been a Republican candidate for the New York state assembly from Cayuga County in 1910.

After poring through old newspapers and other publications, I cannot determine why he packed his bags and left upstate New York for Kerrville. Often tuberculosis was the reason, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. Why would a judge and attorney leave an established practice to move two thousand miles away and give up practicing? Was there a friend who encouraged the move? Was it wanderlust? Were they tired of harsh winters?  Did he decide he didn't like the law?  Do any of my readers know? 

The first mention of the Lewis Dairy in Kerrville is in the March 20, 1915, Kerrville Mountain Sun when D. R. and A. L. Lewis posted a trespass notice. "Notice is hereby given that no hunting or other trespassing will be permitted on the Lewis Dairy Farm.  D.R. and A. L. Lewis."
By June of that year they were well enough established in business that they were advertising "pure Jersey milk and cream, delivered to your door twice daily."

In January 1917 they advertised for an experienced dairy man to live in a tenant house and work on the farm.

By 1918 the Lewis Dairy had expanded into hogs, featuring registered Poland China hogs, including a "fine service male."

In January 1920 in a bow to the growing demand for housing they offered one of their cottages for rent "no sick", in other words, no one with tuberculosis.

The February 20, 1920, Kerrville Mountain Sun ran a front-page story about the search for a hospital for veterans and an offer the Lewis Dairy made to sell the property for that purpose.  (The hospital was built east of town instead and became the VA Hospital.)  As a result, rumors were unfortunately floated in town that the dairy was closing.  These were refuted in a letter published in the newspaper.

It was for sale though, and in April 1925 a group of local businessmen purchased most of the Lewis Dairy property for a development that became Westland Place Addition. Then in April 1926 Henry Woodruff purchased what remained of the dairy.  The sale must have not have gone through because the Lewises were again running the farm at the time of Danforth's  death in 1928.
By 1930 Winford Warren took over the dairy. There were no future newspapers items after December 1930, so the dairy may have closed.

Lucinda Lewis died in 1937 in her home near the intersection of Cottage and Lewis Streets.
Danforth, Lucinda, Arthur (and his wife Cynthia) are all buried at Glen Rest Cemetery.

If you have a house you'd like me to research and post on this blog, please post below or email me at dgaudier at gmail dot com.  I use this address only for the blog.

1 comment:

  1. No big clue, as to why he moved to Kerrville, but he apparently retired from practicing law at least a while before moving to Kerrville. His 1928 obituary says that he retired from his law practice and "engaged in the newspaper publishing business in his native state".