As you drive on Route 360 leaving Callao, you will pass a small farm on your right, before you get to the Westmoreland Players building. This pretty 23-acre property, bordered on one side by hardwood trees and a creek, belongs to two sisters who decided that they wanted to preserve their family farm. It will remain as you see it, forever, thanks to the conservation-minded sisters, Sara Winstead Wilbur and Virginia Winstead Barton.
Mrs. Wilbur's and Mrs. Barton’s grandfather, Colis M. Winstead, obtained this farmland property in 1898 at age 23. He is a direct descendant of Samuel Winstead (b. 1671) whose land, as surveyed in 1690, was located directly across Richmond Road behind Bethany Church. Colis ("Les") Winstead married Anna Dawson in 1903. The Winstead sisters, who spent childhood summers here with their grandparents in the 1930s and 1940s, have a strong attachment to this farmland which has been in their immediate family for over 100 years, and wanted to preserve this land for farming.
A two-story wood frame farmhouse with Carpenter Gothic wooden brackets along the front porch eaves sits along the highway at the front of the property. The earliest part of the house was built by the Winstead sisters’ grandfather about 1900, and was a simple one-over-one tiny two room house, one room up, and one room down, with a narrow staircase against an exterior wall. There is also an early 1900’s white wooden well–house, with a water bucket on a rope pulley still in use and an early 1900’s smokehouse.
The property contains open flat farmland containing 11 acres of USDA Prime soils, and .6 acres of Soils of Statewide Importance. The land is farmed in a small grain rotation and the preservation of this property ensures that productive agricultural land remains available for future use and production.
The remainder of the land slopes gently away from the crop fields through a mature hardwood and pine forest to the southern boundary of the property which is formed by Mill Creek, a tributary of the Yeocomico River. Preserving this property will enhance the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by preventing non-point source pollution that could result from more intensive development of the property. This will support state and federal goals for land preservation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by meeting the multi-state Bay Agreement goals, as well as contributing to the Governor’s goal to protect 400,000 acres of open space in the Commonwealth. Protecting this land supports land use policies of Northumberland County as delineated in their Comprehensive Plan, which contains goals to facilitate existing and future farming operations, conserve water and other natural resources and preserve the agricultural and rural characteristics of the county.
We are grateful to the Winstead sisters for their donation of preserved land to our community. The NNLC and Northumberland County share the responsibility for upholding the landowners’ wishes to protect their land, enforce their wishes, and preserve a family legacy. So next time you drive on Rte. 360 and see the Winstead Farm, think of these sisters who gave us open farmland and protected waters for years to come, and say thank you.