Douglas Farm, New Jersey

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Douglas Farm is a multigenerational farm and apiary with a long American history. The family first started farming in America around 1652.

During the early 1600's the ward family were shipping merchants and land owners. Four Ward brothers decided in 1647 to build a ship to go to the new world. Jamestown had been founded in 40 years prior and was full of prospects. Several years later in 750 they finally set sail.  Sadly a large storm over took the ship. The brothers were picked up by another ship and returned home. Twp years later, two brothers still desired to go to America. So, they booked passage on a ship bound for Jamestown. Sadly this ship also sank in a large storm 100 miles off the coast of Virginia. Luckily, they were picked up, and were dropped at New Amsterdam (New York City). One brother would remain in Northern New Jersey, whilst the other, John Micheal (sic) Ward, would continue on and finally arrive at Jamestown in 1652.

During his time in Virginia, John's grandson, John M. Ward, became friends with George Washington. He would later serve as one of Washington's personal lieutenants in New Jersey. George Washington also had a storng relationship with the Livingston and Kean families of the Union, New Jersey. George would have Martha stay with the Livingingston/Kean family while she visited him in New Jersey. During these visits, John M. Ward would get to hear news from Virginia. It was also the start of [our] working relationship with the Livingingston/Kean family that still exists today.

At the end of the war, John Ward returned to continue running the family farm and to the bees he had not seen in years. However, he would live to son see his son (also named John M. Ward) sign up to defend America in the war of 1812. The family would eventually continue with their pioneering spirit out to the Indiana frontier. At the time this territory was not yet a state. The Douglas, Ward and White family lines from Virginia would marry the Rowe family line in Indiana.

The Rowe family line came from the Black Forest region of Germany. When leaving Germany, their family name was Rau, then changed at the port in France to Rou, and then changed to Rowe at Ellis Island. The Rowe family came to America during the first years of Ellis Island's 23 years of operation.

During the Civil War, three Rowe brothers signed up to the army. The family decided to follow the traditional Scottish tradition of the Douglas clan. Two brothers would fight for the North and one would fight for the south. This ensured the family to be on the winning side. All three brothers survived the war and returned to manage the family farm. The two brothers who fought for the North won Medals of Honor, and are listed on the wall in the Pentagon.

Over the years, the family farm in Indiana extended to over 10,000 acres. During WWII, Earl F. Rowe (senior) would sign up to the military just as the generations of the family before him. He shipped out to Pear Harbor in 1941. He arrived by boat two days after the attack on 7th December. He started in the kitchen washing pots and worked his way up. His talent in the kitchen was quickly recognised. Eventually he was assigned to cook only for the officers, including Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. His sweet breads became well known throughout the fleet. many of his recipes have been handed down in the family including honey buns and honey swirl bread.

When the war ended, Earl Rowe (senior) decided to marry a girl he had fallen in love with through letters while in Pearl. They had never met before, but would stay together for almost 50 years. Unlike previous generations, they decided to live near her family in Northern New Jersey, but would still visit the farm in Indiana to help during the summer. However, while in New Jersey he did not work in agriculture.

Over the next few decades, other family members would leave the farm to follow their own path. The land of the farm was donated to a university for agricultural research.

Now we return to 'our' roots. During modern fast paced, fast food environment it is ever more important to hold on to our roots and eco-friendly activities. It is interesting to note that while working on the family farm, the average family member lived over 100 years. However, after the family moved to New Jersey away from farming into the high stress, modern, New York City environment the life span dropped to 70 years.



Sources for this article include:
  • Douglas Farm

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted  Can you help identify the Douglas family for whom the farm is named?


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    Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022