I have been researching Leonard Brown and his farm for almost 20 years. I just found an 1869 newspaper article that really gives me a sense of how Brown raised his animals. The New England Farmer (Boston, Mass) published a little article on local farming and had a section of “Mr. Leonard Brown’s Farm and Stock.” Dated June 5, 1869, this article gives us a glimpse of the methods used by a noted Portsmouth farmer and other farmers in the area. Brown, like the “gentlemen farmers” was competitive and businesslike in his farming.

“Still farther east from Mr. Belmont’s is the farm of Mr. Leonard Brown, which extends to the shore.” (I don’t believe this is true). He is an industrious and intelligent farmer, who has no fear of investing money in his business. He has sixteen good cows, some of which show strongly the Durham blood; being large size and in good order. The number of his oxen varies from time to time –usually three or four pairs.

The neighbors say ‘Leonard Brown don’t care what price he pays for cattle, if he takes a fancy to them, but we haven’t money to through away.’

He says ‘I buy good cattle and make more money on a pair that has been fed some, than on a poor pair.’

His cattle are tied in a stable, as is the almost universal custom here, by the horns with a rope, with about three feet slack. They stand upon earth and not upon plank, and sand is used for bedding. The cattle eat from the barn floor, on both sides –the oxen one side and the cows the other, with stable doors wide enough to back in a cart to remove manure or to leave the bedding.

The clear beach sand used by the farmers is sometimes drawn three miles. (from Sandy Point beach, maybe). On the middle beach I saw at one time thirteen teams after sand and gravel. This shows the enterprise of the farmers in increasing their manure pile, and is a strong reminder that I and my Vermont neighbors would do well to work our deposits of muck for the same purpose.

Mr. Brown has a flock of forty breeding ewes, South Downs, from Thomas B. Buffum’s stock. I find sheep of this blood on many farms from one end of the island to the other, and learn that they give universal satisfaction. He sold his lambs last summer for six dollars each, and many of his ewes bear twins. He has tried the cross of Cotwold buck upon some of the ewes and half blood lambs seem to dress heavier than the full bloods.

The buildings, walls and lots do credit to their owner.”

This correspondent – Z. E. Jameson of Vermont, includes insights into a number of Aquidneck Island farms. His closing paragraph is a sad commentary and foreshadowing of what would happen to the Leonard Brown Farm.

“I have thus briefly referred to a few items in Rhode Island farming. A farmer from any section of the country would find pleasure and profit in observing the management of these farmers, whose success has given them the confidence, self-esteem, and business habits that usually accompany prosperity. But here, as elsewhere in New England, one cannot but notice and regret the absence of the sons of farmers. They have gone to trades or traffic, and left the old men to depend on hired help.”

When Leonard Brown died of heart failure in the 1890s, his children would sell the family farm and move on.

Actors Cindy and Jim Killavey portray Leonard and Sarah Brown.