West District Nature Preserve
This large parcel includes mowings and cropland of the old Wilcox/Bushley Farm on Coppermine Road. Stone walls border the fields. There are also hardwoods, a swamp and a small pond that is home to a wealth of fish and animal life. Some of the fields show advanced “old field progression” with ingrowth of cedars, shrubs, and invasives. This big open parcel recalls the time when the original “West Woods” section of Farmington had been cleared and was home to family farms. Census records indicate that the land was owned by the Wilcox/Bushley family beginning in the mid-19th century. A part of the farmhouse is more than 200 years old, long antedating their ownership.
Mary Bushley, who occupied the old farmhouse at 119 Coppermine Rd, related that her father kept chickens and cows and grew fruit in the orchard. The family farm originally comprised 106 acres, including the land now occupied by West District School. Sometimes the Bushley children would boldly venture all the way down through the wooded “hollow” to New Britain Avenue. They attended the West District School, near the Historical Society’s 1799 “Stone Schoolhouse”. Before that, neighborhood children shared the older building with blacks, Irish and Tunxis Indian descendants who had lived on and off of the West District Reservation land for many years. When the Stone Schoolhouse became a neighborhood chapel, the family attended services and church suppers in the building. Some of the Bushley land will be allowed to continue in the “old field progression” and revert to forest, while other portions will be mowed twice a year to retain them as historic farm fields. The pond will be protected from eutrophication, as the fields will no longer be treated with chemical fertilizers.