Dr. Davies Farm


The Davies Farmhouse was built in 1836. It was part of a 450-acre farm that ran from Rockland Lake to the Hudson River.
1886: Dr. Lucy Virginia Meriwether graduated from New York’s Woman’s Medical College. She was one of the first female doctors in the U.S. Dr. Lucy Meriwether was related to Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition team. Lide Meriwether, Lucy's mother, was a well-known southern suffragist who was a friend of Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone, and was instrumental in the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920. The Meriwethers lived next door to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy in Memphis, Tenn.
1891: Arthur B. Davies and Dr. Lucy Meriwether married and purchased what is now the Davies home farm for $6,500.00. It consisted of 38 acres, a two-story farmhouse and a barn. The farmhouse was built in 1836 and is of the early frontier federalist style. It has many similarities to President Monroe’s, Ash Lawn home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Arthur B. Davies was a well-known artist and a member of the famous "Eight." He was president of the American Artists and Sculptors that orchestrated the Armory Show of 1913, which introduced impressionists Picasso, Rodin, Degas, Matisse and Marcel Duchamp to America. The Nude Descending a Staircase was first shown here. In 1998, the book The Lives, Loves and Art of Arthur B. Davies was written by Bennard B. Perlman.
Dr. Lucy Virginia Davies, also known as "Dockie," in addition to having a full time medical practice (delivering over 6,000 babies in Congers, Valley Cottage and Rockland Lake) also became an acclaimed farmer, shipping strawberries to New York City.
 Niles Jr. returned  home from Cornell in 1952 to run the farm. At this time there are over 500 farms in Rockland County.
Erica Riepe, Niles' mother was from Davenport, Iowa and her forebears brought the Montessori School Concept to the United States. Erica and Niles Sr. were dairy farmers until they suffered  financial loses during the great depression. Niles Sr. started growing apples and vegetables on the Nelson Farm, which is now the Route 304 farm. This farm was given to Niles Sr. by his parents. Niles Sr. and Erica became well known county wide for their fresh vegetables, especially sweet corn. Erica would deliver fresh vegetables to AT&T in New York City. Famous restaurateur Dinty Moore would often come to the farm for fresh vegetables.
Niles Jr. married Janet Mandell in 1962. They have three children, Niles Meriwether Davies III, Lee Alan Davies and Chris Davies Nevin, who are professionals in our community.
Today we farm about 70 acres. We have 4,000 apple trees, 35 acres of vegetables and 2 farm stands. We press cider several times a week, and offer hayrides during the apple-picking season.


100th Year Anniversary of Dr. Davies farm

Helen Hayes MacArthur, Isabelle Savell, (Governor Rockefeller's press secretary), Jan Davies, Niles Davies, Jr.
Photo: Warren Inglese, Rockland Journal News, August 1991

The farm has been the site of many Saturday Night Live spoofs, TV commercials and movies such as Stilletto, Joe, Crazy Joe, Hot Rock, Manhattan Project, Network, Badge 373, Earthly Possessions, Riding In Cars With Boys, Lipstick Jungle, Damages and The Believer. Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Eli Wallace, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore, Cynthia Nixon, Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane and Ryan Gosling are among the main featured actors to have filmed on Dr. Davies Farm.





Left: Jan and Niles Davies, Jr.: NYS Century Farm Award Received at N.Y.S. Fair, Syracuse, N.Y., 2000

Right: From left to right- Chris Davies Nevin, Niles Davies, Jr., Chris Kimball-Peterson, from the NYS Agricultural Society, Jan Davies, Christine Davies, Casey Davies, Lee Davies and Shannon Davies


In December 2001 Niles received the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the New York State Farm Bureau representing 30,000 farm families. Niles & Jan have the philosophy that you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.



“Happy Birthday To You”


Niles Meriwether Davies, Jr.'s Grandmother, Dr Lucy Virginia Meriwether Davies first cousins, Mildred and Patty Hill composed the tune that became "Happy Birthday To You".

The melody to this enduring song is quite likely the most sung music in history, including all the output of the three B's, Beethoven, Bach and The Beatles. The tune was first published exactly 103 years ago, in a book titled,

"Song Stories  of the Kindergarten," wherein "Happy Birthday," was "Good Morning To All," sung to the same melody.


The song was written by two sisters, Mildred Hill, an organist, concert pianist and teacher and Patty Smith Hill, who wrote the lyrics to "Good Morning to All," while serving as the principal of the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School, where her sister, Mildred, was a teacher. The school, one of the earliest to utilize modern methods of teaching young children, and the Hill sisters, were honored in an educational exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.


The sisters copyrighted their original song in October 1893 but years later in March of 1924, it appeared without authorization in a songbook edited by a Robert H. Coleman. In the book, Coleman used the original title and first stanza lyrics but altered the second stanza's opening line to read, "Happy Birthday To You." Thus, through Coleman, the sisters' line "Good Morning dear children," became "Happy Birthday dear (name)."


During the next decade, the song was published several times, each time with minor alterations in the lyrics. By 1933, the widely accepted title was "Happy Birthday To You." When the song was soon being belted nightly in the Broadway musical, "As Thousands Cheer," a third Hill sister, Jessica, tired of the ongoing theft of the melody and total lack of royalty payments, took the case to court.


In that earlier lime, the concept of intellectual rights was not nearly as advanced as it is today. People were shocked to leam that payments were owed the sister composers for every use of the song. The show "As Thousands Cheer" dropped the tune from its score and Western Union and Postal Telegraph both ceased using the song in singing telegrams. A Broadway hit play with Helen Hayes, "Happy Birthday," arranged for the star to speak the lyrics so the producers might avoid paying royalties to the authors.


Mildred Hill died in 1916 at age 57, a number of years before the tune became "Happy Birthday To You," while Patty Smith Hill, died in 1946 at age 78, well aware that she and her sister had started a worldwide birthday tradition.


According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday To You," is one of the three most popular pieces in the English language, the other two being "Auld Lang Syne" and "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, 'Happy Birthday' earns its owner royalty fees to the tune of six figures annually."


Not too bad for a couple of earnest and hard-working school teachers!

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