Century Farms

25 FEBRUARY 1951

Thayer Farm

The Asa Cheney farm, a landmark at Belleview on Route 17, is part of a farm tradition in the Cheney family which began in 1807.

The building, built bout 1845, have been in the Cheney family for 72 years.  The 104-acre dairy farm borders a 600-acre plot purchased for $2 an acre in 1807 by Albigence Cheney, great-great-great-grandfather of five Cheney children active and well-known in farm activities today. 

According to John C. Cheney, 79, oldest surviving member of the family who farms with his son and grandchildren, the Asa Cheney farm was first purchased from the Holland Land Company in 1807 by George Bly.  He lived with his family in a log cabin in a now-abandoned road which cut through the farm.

Meanwhile, Albigence Cheney, the family bachelor, the same year took a 600-acre plot which extended north to what is now the Chautauqua Brick Company property, and built himself a log cabin near what is now the right-of-way of the old J.W. and N.W. Railroad.

Also that same year, Jonathan Cheney, brother of Albigence and forefather of the present owners, settled across the lake at Cheneys Point.  His son, Calvin Cheney, moved across to help Albigence with his farm, and on the settler’s death fell heir to the land.

Calvin Cheney built himself a home, part of which was later moved and now forms a section of the present Clarence Pickard home.

About 1845, Daniel and Harry Windsor purchased the 104-acre- plot from George Bly, and another section, now the Oscar Caywood farm a few hundred feet to the north, from the Cheneys.  They built the two houses and farm building, still in use, with Harry occupying the farm pictured above and Daniel taking over the Caywood place.

Harry Windsor sold the Asa Cheney farm to Griswold Hatch, a “gentleman farmer” who was noted for wearing white shirts and a silk top hat.

The first Asa Cheney, son of Jonathan Cheney, took over his own fifth share of the land after his father’s death, and purchased he share of this twin brother, Abel, and the 104-acre plot from Griswold Cheney, about 1877.  The farm has been in the Cheney family since then. 

John Cheney remembers that he was 7 years old when he moved with his father, Asa, and family into the home.  His part in the moving was to carry the cat in a flour sack, so it wouldn’t run back.  (It didn’t.)

Late in the 90s when John Cheney was 26, his father deeded him the adjacent 65-acre plot to the north where he and Mrs. Cheney still live.  They were married in 1900, and in 1902 he built the house with lumber taken from the farm.  He built the barns in 1906.

The two adjacent farms were operated as one by the family, and still are, Mr. Cheney says.  In 1927, he purchased the farm from his father’s estate and deeded it on to his son, Asa Cheney, 2d, the present owner.

The joint farm, now included 300 acres, serves as pasture for 63 head of dairy cattle, and the Cheneys also raise most of their own grain, corn and hay.  As a sideline, they harvested a 3,000 bushel potato crop last year.

John's five grandchildren are carrying on the family's farm tradition.  William Cheney, the eldest, isa 4-H agent at Watertown; John Cheney 2d, helps his father and grandfather in operating the farms; and the three girls, Anabel, Donna and Edith, all in school, are active 4-H Club members