Farm and Barn

Hilt Kelly, Ira McIntosh map farms

Hilt Kelly, Ira McIntosh map farms

In 2007, with just three operating dairy farms left in the Town of Middletown, HSM set out to try to map as many family farms as could be recalled by area elders. Coordinator Ira McIntosh gathered information from Bud Barnes (Arkville), Bill Sanford (Halcottsville), Esther Snyder (Denver), Hilton Kelly (Redkill), Leonard Utter (Millbrook), Lester Rosa (Dry Brook) and Fran Faulkner (New Kingston), who came up with 188 farms they remembered from the late 1940s-1950 era. A map of these farms and their owners of more than 60 years ago was exhibited at the Margaretville Cauliflower Festival that fall.

Sheffield Farms Creamery, Halcottsville

Sheffield Farms Creamery, Halcottsville

Dairy farmers needed a market for their milk, and they found it at the many creameries that operated throughout Middletown and neighboring towns. A 2009 project to document the locations and operations of these important businesses yielded a map, photographs and information about 20 creameries and milk processing plants in Arena, Arkville, Dunraven, Halcottsville, Kelly Corners, Margaretville, Clovesville, Halcott, Vega and Roxbury. This project, too, was exhibited at the Cauliflower Festival, and at the Town Hall.

When dairy farming was the primary way of life in Middletown, barns dominated the landscape. But with agriculture’s decline, most have followed suit, and have either been bulldozed for new structures or laid low by the elements.

W. Todd barn, Dry Brook, taken down 2009

W. Todd barn, Dry Brook, taken down 2009

A few barns remain actively used in farming operations (the Liddle farm in Bragg Hollow is a good example). Others have been artfully adapted for other uses: The Kelly Brothers round barn near Halcottsville has found new life as the home of the Pakatakan Farmers Market. And a lucky few have been preserved by owners with the passion, and the means, to keep them standing. But more often than not, barns and other farm outbuildings once so critical to the farm economy have gone unused for decades, languishing in a suspended state of history, waiting for heavy snow, or high winds to bring the deteriorated structures down.

George barn, Bill Stahl Rd

George barn, Bill Stahl Rd

HSM has watched with alarm and sadness as these icons of our agrarian past have slowly disappeared. In 2009 and 2010 volunteers conducted a photographic survey of standing barns and collected information on their histories and current owners. This information is available upon request. If you would like to help, please email us. history@catskill.net