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History of Agriculture in Adams New York

History of Agriculture in Adams New York

Agriculture has from the first been the leading industry of the people of Adams, and some of the cereals, especially barley, here produced are widely noted for their excellence. But it was not generally known, until about 1850, that the soil and climate of the town were especially favorable to the growth of vegetables, such as peas and beans. Its situation on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario gives the town the benefit from the precipitation of moisture in the form of heavy dew, which seem more essential to the perfect maturity of the above vegetables than any other condition. Since this has been fully demonstrated, nearly all the seed-peas and beans of the country are raised in this and the adjoining towns; and, as a result of this industry, appeared J. M. Cleveland’s Seed-House. Beginning in a small way, in 1851, to raise seed-peas and beans, his business has increased to very extensive proportions, — the yearly product now being about 15,000 bushels. This is grown on contract by 200 farmers, the seed being furnished by Cleveland, who takes the crop at a stipulated price, if it agrees with the conditions of the contract. It is then conscientiously cleaned and properly handled by trained employees, and in houses specially adapted for this purpose. Mr. Cleveland’s sales are made to wholesale dealers only, and in 1875 amounted to $40,760, — one firm alone ordering $10,000 worth. The supplies for the United States Patent Office are also obtained from this source. Thirty varieties of peas and eighteen of beans are grown.

Contemporary with the foregoing is T. V. Maxon’s Seed-House, which is conducted essentially on the same principles. Mr. Maxon has been established since 1854, and has reduced the business to a system worthy of imitation. His seed-houses are models of convenience, and enable him to handle the 14,000 bushels grown annually with comparative ease. The reputation of his seeds may be judged from the fact that a single firm has ordered as much as $15,595 worth in a single year. In 1877 he grew 28 varieties of peas and 30 of beans. Both of these houses are at Adams village.

One of the foremost breeders of the county, and among the first to pay attention to improved live-stock is General S. D. Hungerford, of the “Valley Park Farm,” near Adams village. In 1853 he began his importations of the best strains of Ayrshire blood, and from which nearly all the thoroughbred and grade Ayrshire animals in Jefferson County originated. The importations were from Scotland direct, and consisted of “Kilburn,” “Mary Grey,” “Ayrshire Lass,” “White Lily,” and “Queen of Ayr.” These were followed, in 1854, by “Lady Ayr,” “Cherry Blossom,” and ” Challenge.” From these Gen. Hungerford has bred many fine animals, having at present several especially worthy of note, illustrations of which appear in this work in connection with the view of the “Valley Park Farm.” “Scottish Chief” is a magnificent 5-year old animal, of perfect symmetry and pure blood. His pedigree may be found in ” A. H. B., No 404.” ” Lady Lyons” is an animal of faultless beauty, and “Prince Albert” promises to perpetuate the high reputation of the herd.

A herd of short-horns was also imported in 1854, among the most noted being “Flourish,” “Red Rose,” “Lady Gowan,” and “Rosamond.” Although a fine class of animals, Gen. Hungerford has directed his attention almost exclusively to Ayrshires, believing them to be better adapted for dairy purposes. His herd at present numbers 80 animals, among which is a cow which has very appropriately been named “Old Creamer,” and is undoubtedly the champion milch cow of the world. She has yielded in three days the enormous quantity of 302 pounds of good milk, as follows: June 11, 100½  pounds; June 12, 100 pounds; June 13, 101½ pounds. She gave 2820½ pounds of milk in the month of June, an average of over 94 pounds per day; 2484 pounds in the month of July, an average of over 80 pounds per day; and in the month of August 75 pounds per day. A day’s milk generally makes 4 pounds of butter. “Old Creamer” is nine years old, and weighs 1080 pounds. A portrait of this extraordinary animal, as well as the “Centennial Team” of matched heavy draught-horses, also the property of Gen. Hungerford, and found with the “Valley Park Farm” view, will give the reader a good impression of their beauty and size. They are dapple-gray, 18 hands high, and weigh 1800 pounds each. They are full brothers, “Charles” being 9 years old, and ” Wil-liam” 8 years; are three-fourths Messenger and one-fourth Clyde, and have trotted half a mile in two minutes. The team was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition, and received the diploma for being ” a very superior team for any purpose.” They are in many respects a most remarkable team.

About 1852, H. C. Averill, of Adams Centre, engaged in horse-breeding, purchasing a splendid Black Hawk stallion, “Green Mountain Chief,” whose record for speed is well remembered. He has since then combined that blood with the Ethan Allen stock, getting a very desirable breed, of which he has made a specialty. In 1873 he sold $11,000 worth of this stock, one colt alone bringing $3600. At present Mr. Averill has a number of fine horses, among them “Ethan Allen 3d,” “English George,” who has made 2.20 time, and “Little Giant” and “Little Charlie,” a beautiful little team. The last three are illustrated with his residence. Other breeders of blooded horses are J. D. Snell, of Adams Centre, and R. P. White, of Adams village. The latter was at one time extensively engaged, having a stable of 80 horses. His barns are noted for their beautiful appearance and complete appointments.

In 1873, David G. Aldrich, of Worcester, Mass., imported eleven head of “Leviss” cattle, among them a calf dropped April 8, 1873, which became the property of Dr. Bemis July 4, 1877. “William Tell, Jr.,” is a handsome chestnut-brown, is symmetrical, and weighs 1803 pounds. The doctor has also two fine cows of the same blood, purchased of Mr. Aldrich, and these animals are supposed to be the only “Leviss” stock in the State.

“The Ellisburg, Adams, and Henderson Agricultural Society” was organized about 1856. Fair-grounds were leased at Belleville, and for ten years exhibitions were held there. Afterwards fairs were held at Adams, on the “Valley Park Farm,” the last one occurring in 1875. The present officers are William H. Eastman, president; G. B. R. Whipple, secretary.

The “Union Agricultural Society,” of Adams, Rodman, and Lorraine, was formed about 1857, among its chief promoters being S. D. Hungerford, R. P. White, T. V. Maxon, Albert Webb, and Hugh Heustis. Very successful exhibitions were held for many years on the “Valley Park Farm,” at Adams; but lately the interest has not been sufficient to warrant the holding of a fair. These societies accomplished a great deal of good, educating the masses to a higher and better appreciation of agriculture. A prominent feature of the fair was the address by some noted orator; Edward Everett, Elihu Burritt, Horace Greeley, George W. Bungay, and others having been thus engaged.

Dairy Farming in Adams New York

The dairy interests of Adams deserve especial mention. The peculiar nature of the soil and the many springs and streams of the town adapt it admirably for grazing; and the products of the many private dairies and cheese-factories have attained an enviable reputation. Of the latter class,

The Smithfield Cheese-Factory is the pioneer in the town, and perhaps in the county. It was built in 1861 by a company, composed of A. D. Stanley, O. M. Stanley, D. M. Hall, and Charles Mills. The plan for the factory and the machinery were procured by A. D. Stanley at Rome; and its capacity enabled them to use the milk from 700 cows. At present it is not conducted on so extensive a scale, and the milk from 300 cows only is used by the present proprietor, Fayette Stanley. Next in the order of time is the Adams Factory, built at Adams village, in 1864, by Ingraham, Lewis & Heusties. It is a large, well-arranged building, with an excellent supply of water from a spring on the hill-side, and has a manufacturing capacity of 150,000 pounds per year. It is at present operated by Ingraham, Whitford & Co. The F. M. & J. B. Muzzy Factory was built the same year, and has been operated by the above parties ever since. The yearly products are 65,000 pounds. P. S. Maxson’s Factory, west of Adams Centre, was erected in 1867. It is supplied with good machinery, and produces 70,000 pounds yearly. (C. A. Benjamins Factory, north of Smithville, was built in 1866, and has been operated with some intermission ever since. Product, 25,000 pounds. N. Thomas’ Factory, established in 1877. Product, 18,000 pounds. Lewis’ Creamery, in the Greene settlement, by Frank Lewis, opened in May, 1877. Uses the milk of 185 cows.

Hop-growing receives some attention in the western part of the town. A. D. Stanley commenced the culture in 1863, growing five acres. This has been increased to 17 acres. He has a large dry-house, and is well established m the business.

Source:  Durant, Samuel W. and Henry B. Peirce. History of Jefferson County, New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1878. p 245-246.

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