Davis Donation in Sutton Continues a Long Family Tradition

September 24, 2012

A Long Family Tradition in North Sutton

In 1925 the Manchester Union reported the dedication of the Sutton Pines Forest Reservation, a new reservation of the “Sunapee branch of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests” under President Herbert Welsh. The effort to save “primeval pines on the shores of Kezar Lake” was the culmination of a 12-year effort which officially began with a land gift in 1914. It was noted that Philip Ayres (staff forester), Allan Hollis (Board Chair), Herbert Welsh (Society President) and State Forester Edgar C. Hirst worked to save the pines which were slated to be logged. Four of the final five acres of this reservation were donated by Donald C. Davis, Sr., Robert H. Davis and Gertrude Davis Clay of Sutton.

Eighty-seven years later Don C. Davis and seven members of the same Davis family (most still from Sutton) have donated another ten acres to the Forest Society. Their donation is an addition to the Forest Society’ new 1,054-acre Black Mountain Forest in Sutton and Warner. Don Davis had been a long-time manager of Winslow State Park on Kearsarge and Wadleigh State Park on Kezar Lake in North Sutton. He offered to donate the land the very day the Forest Society announced the start of the Black Mountain campaign. Don was immensely helpful during the campaign by writing about the efforts in his “Parklands Primer” column for the regional Inter-Town Record newspaper based in North Sutton. Don recently revealed more about his family’s connections to the Forest Society:

When I was a young boy I would always stop my bike by the stone on the North Rd. in Sutton to read the plaque about the Primeval Pines. I was impressed that my grandfather, Robert H. Davis, and his sister, Gertrude Davis Cla, had cared enough about the exceptional trees that they gave the land on which they grew to the Forest Society for a reservation to protect them. It made me proud. Dad explained to me about what the mighty stand of trees had looked like before the Hurricane of ’38 had destroyed most of them and of course, that made me sad. I could still see the stumps of some of the giants.

Years later In the Forest Society’s book A Greener Earth by Evan Hill, I learned the Primeval Pines gift was given “for and in consideration of the memory of our mother.” It was my great grandmother, who had instilled in my grandparents a love and appreciation of their surroundings and they had thanked her with the gift. I never knew my grandfather, except through the stories told to me by Dad. Many were about my surroundings and caring for them. Great Aunt Gertrude lived long enough to show me the beauty of a toad and the wonder of a jack-in-the pulpit. Dad was generous, always finding ways to help someone in need without fanfare. He never sought recognition for any of his deeds. When I learned about the Forest Society’s Black Mountain campaign I said to my sister, Peggy, that gifting our abutting land to the Forest Society would be the perfect way to honor the memory Grampa, Aunt Gertrude and Dad. She agreed without a second thought. Our six children also agreed. We are certain that if they were alive; Grampa, Aunt Gertrude and Dad would approve. We’re thrilled we can make this gift to honor their memory. We are grateful to the Forest Society for accepting our gift in their memory.

The 10-acre wetland is an open shrub beaver meadow and the headwaters of Steven’s Brook, a tributary of the Warner River. The Davis land directly abuts the Kearsarge Regional High School, creating potential educational uses by students. The school’s water source is a well located near the wetland and thus the additional land conservation in and around the well helps to protect the water quality for KRHS.