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The Busa Family In Lexington
The Busa family can trace its beginnings to a small town in Sicily on the outskirts of Messina called Santo Stefano di Briga. In the late 1800's Guiseppe Busa and Gaetanna Smedile had eight children, Antonio, Francesco, Gaetanno , Giovanni, Gaetanna, Maria, Angelo and Antonino. The Busa name has a long history in the town with many related families dating back to the 1600's My grandfather Giuseppe b.1857 was the son of Antonio 1824 and Antonia Vitali.He is the son of Giuseppe Busa 1796 and Giordana Scoglio.Giuseppe's father was Gaetano 1768 son of another Giuseppe and Natalizia Busa.These were the earliest Busa's on record but it seems the family roots go back much farther. .My great great great grandfather Gaetano had three other brothers ,Paolo,Cosimo and Giovanni who seem to be the ancestors of the other Busa families in the town and the others who immigrated to America and the Boston area at the turn of the century between 1890 and 1920.
Because of the financial condition of the times and the family, the oldest boys decided to emigrate to America. Antonio and Francesco were the first to arrive in 1906 at Ellis Island. The teenage boys found their way to the Boston area and started working for the local farms and businesses. In 1914, Giovanni and Gaetanno arrived in Boston to join their brothers when they were 18 and 20 respectively. They moved to East Lexington and Americanized their names becoming Anthony, Frank, Guy and John. In a few years they managed to save and borrow enough money to buy an old farm on Lowell Street in 1919. The 12 acre parcel had a barn and some storage buildings and a 18th century farm house .
Though the original owners of the farm were in the dairy business ,there is evidence the farm had been changed to vegetable production between 1900and 1919 but had been idle for a time. They had to clear and recondition the land for farming. They divided the farm into four parcels. Tony had the land at the top of the hill back towards Monroe brook. Frank took the center section down to Arlington Reservoir. John and Guy had the back sections next to Reed Dairy and the lower land along Lowell street. John's property also gerrymandered around to include land in the south corner next to the Reservoir as well .Guy later sold his share to John in the thirties leaving him with all the land along Lowell street. There was also a land swap in 1960 between John and Tony for a corner lot on Lowell street with Tony's larger greenhouse and more acreage along the back of the farm.
The Busa brothers specialized in fresh vegetables for the local markets and restaurants. Most in demand at that time were tomatoes and celery but they grew lettuce , cucumbers, squash, beans , beets ,chicory escarole radishes and peppers. Celery grew particularly well due to the deep rich topsoil in the low areas of the farm.. Known as " Boston Celery" it was quite a bit different than today's varieties. The Summer Pascal strain was taller , thinner and sweeter than today's California giants .About two to three weeks before harvest it was blanched either with long boards pressed close to the sides of each row or tar paper held in place by wire hoops. It was cut by hand and bunched in twos or threes , packed in ice and sent off to the Fanueil Hall produce center or picked up by local stores and restaurants. Developing their own strains and seeds, they all won awards for quality at Waltham Field Station and Farm Bureau Trials for both celery and tomatoes .(more on early farming methods)
AS shown in the 1920 census ,Tony , his wife and four children, and unmarried brothers Frank and John lived together in the old farmhouse .As time went by they built two other two-family houses for their large families. In 1930 John and Frank lived together in one house and Tony and Guy in the old house, but soon Tony needed his own for his large family. At that time there were twenty two people, eight adults and fourteen children, living in the two houses. John and Frank built a house together in 1933 and Tony moved into the two-family built in 1924. Guy decided to sell his share to John in 1934 and moved his expanding family to Woburn and started a farm on Wyman street .Tony also had land adjacent to the farm which later was developed by two of his sons, Alfred and Daniel. They built houses and created Lillian, Anthony, Sheila, Circle and Farm roads and became important business and civic leaders in the town.
Frank died from a stroke in 1949 but his wife and children continued farming until 1975.John's second wife Rosina bought their share in 1994.
A younger brother ,Angelo arrived from Italy in 1930 and established Oak Park Farm on Grant street on the other side of town. In the 1950's he was one of the first to establish a roadside stand in the area and became famous for his sweet corn and marketing ideas.
John had four sons , Joseph( they all named their first born son after their father and first born daughter Gaetanna after their mother), John, Guy and Anthony but his wife Anna died in 1939.Joseph ran the farm with his father until 1964 when he moved to Concord and established Wayside Florist. He was important for the addition of adding cut flowers and annuals to the product line and opening the stand in 1959.John remarried in1948 to Rosina and had three children Trudy ,Dennis and Francis who today run the farm and greenhouses and stand. Rosina's brother Joseph Romano rented Tony's parcel in 1959 and ran the farm for John from 1965 to 1971.He continued to rent and farm Tony's land until his death in 2001.The present day farm and stand is the continuation of the business John Busa started in 1920.
More on the farm and its operation and changes can be found on this page : Aerials