This year marks the centennial milestone of Alice Ferguson’s purchase of Hard Bargain Farm, situated along the Potomac River on ancestral land of the Piscataway people. Check out the history of its purchase and how this historic property has transformed over the last century. Enjoy!
The year is 1922. Insulin is used for the first time to treat diabetes, the United States Supreme Court rules that baseball is in fact a sport and not a business, and the first two-color Technicolor film, The Toll of the Sea premieres. What a year this was for setting the foundation for future generations.
One hundred years ago, Alice Ferguson searched for a property where she and her husband Henry could escape the hustle and bustle of Washington DC and host gatherings for their family and friends. For Alice, that special place was Hard Bargain Farm, located in Accokeek, Maryland. The Henry agreed to her purchase which included a dilapidated farmhouse, several farm structures, fields, woodlands, wetlands, streams, the Potomac shoreline, a view of Mount Vernon, and a beautiful rolling landscape. This year the Alice Ferguson Foundation celebrates 100 years since Alice’s purchase of Hard Bargain Farm.
Alice named the Farm “Hard Bargain”, after an old estate in Maryland. Where Bryan Point Road takes off from Livingston Road was often as close as you could get to the property by car. Wilton, their chauffeur often had to pick them up and/or drop them off there by horse or buggy.*
For many years, Hard Bargain Farm and its breathtaking view of the Potomac was the backdrop for the Fergusons and their many gatherings. More than that, it was the birthplace of today’s Moyaone Community and partial formation of Piscataway Park. Let’s take a look at how the property has changed over the last century.
October 24, 1954
“It has so many different environmental features – rivers, streams, hills, farmland, beaver dams, marsh. It has it all, in a very compact way. There’s so much opportunity to teach every little aspect of the ecosystem,” said Kay Powell, a current Board member and former Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, during an interview about her memories of Hard Bargain Farm. Kay, a proud resident of the Moyaone community, also served as a park ranger and extra set of hands on the farm, where she could be “a kid at heart.”
“My father was so dedicated to this place. He made an attempt to meet every school bus that pulled in and to greet the kids visiting that day,” recalled Bud Wareham during an interview about his connection to Hard Bargain Farm. Bud is a former Board Member of the Alice Ferguson Foundation and son of Bernie Wareham, our first Executive Director. During his childhood and well into his adult years, Bud spent many days here on the Farm as a close neighbor, farm hand, cleanup volunteer, and actor in the Hard Bargain Players.
Late Fall 2022
Just as it has over the last century, Hard Bargain Farm brings people together. Today, we are overjoyed to hear the constant excitement and laughter of children enjoying the great outdoors from our offices in the Ferguson Farmhouse, and through our community events our neighbors and friends are able to enjoy the Farm’s unique charm and create memories that will last a lifetime.
So what’s next?
“My hope for the future is that by visiting Hard Bargain Farm, it reignites people’s love for the natural world,” shared Powell.
“My hope would be that we continue to educate kids as my father started and others have continued to do,” shared Wareham.
Without the dedication of the Fergusons, Hard Bargain Farm as we know it would not exist today. We are grateful for the hard work done by those who came before us. As our centennial year comes to a close, we are hopeful for the future and eager to see what’s in store, for both Hard Bargain Farm and the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Here’s to continuing to cherish and protect this special place for generations to come.
The legacy of the Fergusons and history of Hard Bargain Farm is fascinating and encompasses much more than we could fit into a blog. To learn more about this remarkable property and its beginnings visit fergusonfoundation.org/who-we-are/our-history
*Excerpt from Charles Wagner’s A Rambling History of the Moyaone Reserve