Construction and Maintenance of Graeme Park's Various Landscapes Graeme Park - Horsham Plantation, Horsham Township Pennsylvania

Fergusson infused all aspects of life at Graeme Park with republican sensibility-farm production included. Based on tax records and written accounts it appears that more than a for-profit enterprise, the farm at Graeme Park centered on experimental cultivation which was both aesthetically pleasing and subsistence-oriented. In a letter written by Dr. Graeme to Thomas Penn, Graeme noted that the "park is managed in a manner quite different than any I have seen here or elsewhere." In commenting that the farm was managed in a manner distinct from which he was accustomed, Graeme infers that the design and operation of the farm and ornamental landscape were not within his sphere of influence: "I have Endeavored to make a fine Plantation, in regard to fields, meadows and enclosures, not much yet regarding the House and Gardens. I have a Park which Incloses 300 acres of land, this park is managed in a manner quite different from any I have seen here or elsewhere, its very good soil, and one half of it lies with an easy descent to the south sun, which besides avenues and Vistas thro' it, there is now but just done a 150 acres of it quite clear of Shrubbs Grubbs and Bushes, nothing but the Tall trees and good sapling timber standing,... it would be one of the finest Parks for Deer that well could be imagined, but tho' I have double ditched and double hedged it, I'm afraid it is not secure enough against Deers escaping. On the other hand, if you consider it as a piece of Beauty and Ornament to a dwelling, I dare venture to say that no nobleman in England but would be proud to have it on his seat or by his house."

Although, Elizabeth Graeme was only eighteen years old at the time of the letter, she had already been writing pastoral-themed poems for several years and by this time had formed her salon. In 1753, William Franklin composed "A Song By A Young Gentleman To Some Ladies In The County At Horsham" for Fergusson whose verses included "Ye ladies who are now retired to groves and rolling springs nor think the conquest you have made forgot by absence quite nor all the witty things you said are lost clear out of sight." Franklin's poem described a retreat similar to Elizabeth's salon where "witty things" were "said" among the "groves" and "springs" of Graeme Park. Furthermore, Franklin implied that she had been at Graeme Park for some time and could easily have been influential in the renovation of the estate's landscape occurring in the 1750s and 1760s. It is probable that Elizabeth Graeme, at the very least, assisted in planning the Graeme Park's gardens and plantings; through this probable influence, she oversaw the creation of physical space and alteration to the natural landscape which paralleled the salon's discourses on nature and their other artistic activities.

Fergusson adhered to the republican notion that self-sufficient and self-sacrificing farmers were especially capable of virtuous citizenship. Liberty and personal sovereignty could be achieved through taming and cultivating the wilderness and thusly creating autonomous realms for individual power. In an early nineteenth-century historical landscape painting by an unknown artist, Graeme Park was portrayed as an idealized landscape of the "noble farmer" with the mansion house standing in the center of a pastoral landscape complete with outbuildings surrounded by individuals engaged in various chores. Of particular interest, five of the six figures depicted in the painting are women; all six humans are engaged in the same activity-hay baling-regardless of gender. In a mid-1760s poem entitled "Character of a Virtuous Woman," Fergusson described her attitude regarding a women's role in agricultural pursuits: "she views a meadow and she buys a field then plants a vineyard that fair fruit may yield." In 1768, Fergusson wrote another poem that more broadly elucidated her theories about the noble farmer: "no false refinements constitute his no elegance his substance waste But God and Nature are his sacred guides and reason torch a steady light provides a noble liberty his spirit proves a generous freedom all his actions moves now independence is the rural plan now his own master is the rustic man."

Based on evidence in her verses as well as the female dominated landscape painting, it is clear that Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson was not a passive resident at Graeme Park, but rather was an active and integral force in the direction of its day-to-day household and farming activities and the shape of its overall landscape. This claim is further supported in a 1773 letter which discussed the harvesting of the estate's crops. Fergusson commented, "I intend to be at the expense of harvesting it my Self; as I am told by my neighbors it will be a great loss to sell it on the Ground." With regard to finances and living quarters for farm workers she stated, "All is now paid off: And I have not received But three hundred and 27 pounds Cash" and "I keep no family at the long house at all: I have got All my people into their quarters over here." These statements highlight an amazing and rare example of a colonial American woman's power over place. Although by this time she was married to Henry Hugh Fergusson, it appears that Elizabeth, and not her husband, directed the farming, finances, and living arrangements at the estate.