The Bests

Two photos: John Best on left and Margaret Best on the right.

In 1854, David Best began a lease the South Hermitage property (today's Best Farm) from Ariana (McElfresh) and Charles E. Trail. While David would retire from farming in 1864, his son and grandson John T. Best, Jr. and Sr. The Best family would continue to lease the farm until 1910. While the Bests never owned the land, the Best Farm is named for their tenancy during the battle.

David Best was born in 1804 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. It is not clear when David Best left Pennsylvania, but in 1831 he married Ann(a) Mary Lentz (Lantz) in Frederick County, Maryland. David and Mary had four children: Elizabeth, William, John T., and Simon. The 1840 and 1850 censuses indicate that David Best was a farmer; however, he does not appear to have owned land.

By 1860, David and Anna Mary Best were tenanting the South Hermitage [Best Farm] and had six 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.

Last updated: July 27, 2020

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