Alexander Sleight took over management of the farm from his father Peter and he was indeed a successful farmer as well. He changed from general purpose farming to fruit farming. Like his father before him, Alexander gave back to his community by serving as the Town of LaGrange supervisor for four terms during the 1870s. Alexander had married the former Mary Pells of LaGrange and they had three children. The youngest, David B. Sleight, name for his uncle who fell during the Civil War, took over the farm and changed it to a dairy farm.
David Barnes Sleight and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, took up residence in the farm with their eleven children in 1925, providing the farm with its fifth generation of Sleight farmers. While under his care, the farm was declared a New York State Century Farm in 1937 ( and again in 1972). Conditions for selection include: “the farms shall have been owned and operated by the same family for at least 100 years; the family must be good farmers now, have an established record of volunteer services to the community; recognition should be given for military service; only one farm per year may be selected as a century farm.”
David Barnes Sleight died in 1959, leaving his wife and two daughters living in the once proud farmhouse. His son, David Sterling, along with his family lived in the west wing of the old farmhouse and another son, Francis, and his family lived just down the hill. Francis and Sterling were the last generation of Sleight to work the farm. Sterling died in 1973 and Francis hindered by poor health, found that he could no longer farm as his forefathers had done for over two hundred years. Fourteen years after the farm’s second selection as New York State Century Farm, it was sold to the developers, amid great sadness in the Sleight Family.
Like many farm families of today, the Sleights found it extremely hard to keep farming in the family. Farming takes more than just a love of the land, it takes hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck.
So, imagine the surefootedness of the braves who passed over the creek not far from the future stone house. Imagine the happiness in the yes of Elsie DeReimer when she first saw the beautiful Dutch farmhouse to which her groom bought her. Or, imagine the sadness of Peter and his wife as they brought home the body of the young man who pencil drawing of the farm from 1854 hangs in the home of one of the members of the Sleight family. Imagine Mary Elizabeth sitting at the beautiful palladian window watching the Chevys go by and remembering the glory of the farm, now passed. Imagine the fun, the laughter and the sorrow that a home, which has been in a family for almost 200 years, has seen. And then open your eyes and see the restored beauty of a simple farmhouse and relive the thousands of memories that exist there.
Read more about the history of the LaGrange area and Dutchess County.