The Best family leased the South Hermitage property (today's Best Farm) as early as the late 1830s. David Best and his wife had four children and, in 1860, seven enslaved laborers. That year, David Best was farming 375 acres and producing wheat, straw, oats, rye, corn, potatoes, wool, butter, and clover seed. Additionally, Best produced cordwood from 50 acres of unimproved land.
This unimproved land was probably the "Best Grove," a managed woodlot that existed on the property until the late nineteenth century. David Best also had a blacksmith shop in operation in the 1860s.
By 1870, David Best was retired and his son, John T. Best, Sr. was managing the farm. John Best farmed a total of 425 improved acres, and produced wheat, corn, oats, wool, potatoes, butter, milk, orchard products, hay, and clover seed. John Best invested a great deal in "implements" or tools for his farm; indeed, by the 1880s, the Best Farm had become one of the most successful agricultural operations in the area.
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