The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Big Chuck

September 24, 2012

Senator's farm was all I imagined


“I bought the farm so I’d have a base when I come back to my hometown to visit. It is so peaceful there,” he told me.

I have spent countless late afternoons with Steve on the back porch of the old Moynihan place, discussing the world of politics with him. Of course, the ghost of the Irish white-maned senator is readily present to both of us.

“Yes, his presence is certainly palpable in all the rooms of this house he called home for so many decades,” Steve said.

The farm, then known as Derrymore and now re-christened Sterling Farms after Steve’s late father, consists of a four-bedroom 1840s farmhouse on 400 acres. The property also contains an original one-room school.

“This is the old Prosser Hollow School,” Steve told me recently as we walked through the rebuilding. “This is where the senator would write his books well into the evening. In fact, his old typewriter was here when we bought the farm. The neighbors up here in the hollow had family members who attended this school. One was Jessie Conrow (singer Jerry Jeff Walker’s grandmother). I found an old photo of the children in front of the schoolhouse from almost a century ago. I took the photo to show it to Jessie when she was living in an Oneonta nursing home. She remembered every single name of each of the kids in the photo. Ms. Conrow was 104 years old at the time.”

I asked Steve what the importance of the old schoolhouse was to him.

“It’s a great bridge to the past,” he said. “I became a member of the Davenport Historical Society after buying the farm, and I’ve become friends with many of the members. Ben and Sally Beames, for example. Wonderful people. In fact, they actually had a meeting in the old schoolhouse. That makes me feel great.”

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