Stow was settled near 1650 or so.  On the 1830 and 1856 maps of Stow, this house appears on the east side of Whitman Street; by 1875, it had been moved to the west side. The 1830 map lists the owner as Wid. Priest, who was Abigail Priest (1777-1855), widow of Abraham Priest (1748-1824). She and Abraham had many children, including Comfort (b. 1810), twins Abigail and Ephraim (b. 1811), Jonathan (b. 1813), Dolly (b. 1815), Joseph (b. 1816), and Abraham (1818-1891). On the 1850 census, Abigail Priest was listed as the head of the household, with property worth $4,200. Her son Abraham, a farmer, was living with her, along with Betsy Whitcomb (age 74).

The house remained in the family, with A. Priest listed as the owner on the 1856, 1875, and 1889 town maps. This was the younger Abraham, who married Hannah H. Walcott in 1856. In 1870, their dairy farm was listed in the agricultural census, with 110 acres of improved and 10 acres of unimproved land worth $5,000. They owned a horse and 10 milk cows, valued at $650. In 1869, the farm’s harvest included 30 bushels of rye, 50 bushels of corn, 30 bushels of oats, 40 bushels of barley, 250 bushels of potatoes, 45 tons of hay, and $25 of orchard products. They sold 4,800 gallons of milk. Total farm production in 1869 was valued at $1,635. (Two Abraham Priests appear in the 1870 agricultural census: Abraham Priest and Abraham Priest 2nd. They were cousins; the latter was the son of Jonathan Priest, born ca. 1836, who married Mary Ann Wilde in 1859).

 

The property was passed down to Abraham and Hannah’s son Lyman Priest (1860-1937), a farmer whose specialty was his stone fruit orchard (Crowell 1933: 55). Lyman’s son Harold Abraham Priest (1893-1984), married Sarah Cecilia Graveson in 1915.

 

In 1939, Barbara Priest (1916-1992), daughter of Harold and Sarah Priest, married Derwood Ray Frost (1915-1988). For many years they had a large fruit farm, known as Fruit Acres, which included this parcel. For a time, the property was the largest orchard in Stow. It had produced apples, cherries, peaches and pears, but eventually switched entirely to apples; at its peak it had 4,000 apple trees (Crowell 1933:55). In the 1970s, the Frosts began to sell land for development, including Birch Hill Road, Robert Road, and Apple Blossom Lane. Some apple trees remain extant in these developments. Around the same time, they began to grow Christmas trees. Trees are still grown on this property, which is now known as the Mistletoe Christmas Tree Farm.

Today, there is only the 11-acre parcel of the original farm left.   The Harnett/Gagnon family purchased the property in 2009.  At that point, the Christmas tree business for the Frost family was being slowly phased out as they planned to sell the property.  The new owners had to clear extra land and plant upwards of 3,000 baby trees that first year in order to kick-start the fields.  Those first trees, which were planted as 2 to 4 year old transplants, are now just coming of age for cut-your-own trees, this year (2017) will be the FIRST year we will be able to sell trees we actually planted. 

The Farm is now called Mistletoe Christmas Tree Farm.  The old barn has also been given a new paint job, a classic barn-red color that has brought new energy to the property. In addition to selling cut-your-own trees, Mistletoe offers pre-cut trees, wreaths, ornaments, and a wonderful Christmasy atmosphere that harkens back to the classic days when Christmas may not have been quite so commercialized.

Below is a picture of the barn and parking at Fruit Acres (the farm that predated the current tree farm).