Amy and Floyd Verrill
89 Seven Star Lane

Amy, age 86
Floyd, age 89

Interviewed May 11, 1981

Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.

— Nine Acre Corner -- the farms and families

— formation of the White Pond Association

— the Verrill dairy farm and milk route

— Impact of the flood of 1936 and hurricane of 1938

We came to Concord in 1922 in response to an ad in the New England Homestead for a farm of 100 acres, free from stones.

Floyd had graduated from an agricultural course at University of Maine. We had been married in 1918 and Ralph was two years old.

We bought the Carrigan Farm on Sudbury Road across the road from what is now the Nashawtuc Country Club. The only land on the other side of the road was toward Sudbury - an area calIed The Gulf. It was a lovely secluded area bounded on one side by a hill and by the Sudbury River.

It had been a campsite for the Indians and one summer a group of Harvard archeologists made a stratefied dig and went down five feet. After the hurricane I found an Indian artifact under the roots of an up-turned tree.

There was a good landing-place on the river and the first winter we were in Concord we cut ice together with some of the neighbors.

We paid $20,000 for the farm. The bank took a first mortgage for $10,000 at 6% and Mr. Carrigan took a second mortgage of $10,000 at 6%. We did not even have a lawyer - quite different from the way it would have been today.

There was electricity in the barn, but the only electricity in the house was a bare lightbulb over the kitchen, so there was much work to be done.

At this time Concord had not started to grow. It had a population of about 7,000 and was a rural community.

Where now there are houses there used to be fields of asparagus, rhubarb, corn and squash.

Nine Acre Corner was a social entity and we were one of the first families to be intruders. Most of the farmers were market gardeners.

The first business I did was to buy a herd of 30 cows and a milk-route in Lexington.

My first operation was to put in milking machines and water-bowls and run water into the barn.

Under the previous owner the cows had been let out once or twiee a day to a watering trough in the barn yard.

As the need for water increased, it was necessary to drive a well. We went down 150 feet.

The first equipment I used consisted of a team of horses, a dump-cart and a Fordson tiractor with iron wheels.

The manure went through a scuttle into the barn cellar and was forked by hand into the dumpcart and dumped in piles in the field and then spread by hand.

The ordinary laborer received $40 per month with room and board, and milk retailed for 14 cents a quart.

In the haying operation I used horses for moving and a dump rake for raking. The hay was pitched on a wagon by hand and put in the barn by means of a two-pronged fork that was plunged into the load and lifted to the hay-mow by a horse pulling a rope on a set of pulleys.

The next improvement was a hay loader that fastened on back of a wagon and picked up the windrow and brought it up into the wagon.

Later the hay baler came out and the hay was brought into the barn all baled.

In the early days most farmers had two or three cows for their own use. A number of people had family cows. A few farmers had small milk routes. All milk was sold as raw milk.

I started delivering in Lexington and gradually built up a route in Concord.

When a law was passed that all milk had to be pasteurized, most of the farmers went out of the retail milk business and I took over their routes. Fred Jones operated his dairy farm and milk routes until his death not many years ago.

At first we took the milk from the cows and ran it over a tubular cooler with cold water running through it. It was then bottled with a machine that did four bottles at a time. Finally it was iced and put in the cooler.

At that time people looked at the cream line for a good quart of milk. Bottles were made with long slim necks to make the cream line look deeper. Later when milk was homogenized, the bottles were made with short thick necks.

We tried to get as much milk as possible delivered before breakfast. Late risers sometimes were troubled with sour milk in hot weather and frozen milk popping up an inch or two out of the bottles in cold weather.

It was not until after we built the dairy that we put out insulated boxes.

One year when there was a lot of snow the road that is now 2A was not plowed in Lincoln. The milk truck was usually the first one through. Toward spring there were deep ice ruts in the road so it was necessary to carry an axe in order to get out of the rut to turn out if another car was coming.

One winter there was a week when there was so much snow we could not use a truck and had to use sleds pulled by a team of horses to get through to Lexington.

As the business grew it necessitated enlarged facilities. I built a new milk room and installed refrigeration, a continuous rotary bottling machine and a pasteurizer.

I think I was the first to start pasteurizing in Concord, and I was the first to put milk in the schools.

Ralph tried to manage the farm for a few years, but decided he would prefer another occupation.

In 1927 we bought the Prime Farm, originally the Rodney Wheeler place and in a few years we moved over there.

I bought a herd of 60 cows and filled the barn. The milk was put into 40 quart jugs and set into a refrigerator tank of water and then taken to the other farm for processing.

There was a large ell where a couple lived who boarded the help.

We lived there until we built our house on Seven Star Lane.

Our youngest son, Steve, was born there and after graduating from Cornell took over the management of the farm. He has a herd of 160 cows and 125 young stock.

There are only two other dairy farms in Concord at this time.

Now the milk is stored in stainless steel tanks and collected in an insulated truck to be processed.

One of the first things I did after coming to Concord was to try to find out how Nine Acre Corner got its name. When Ruth Wheeler's book came out it stated, "Nine Acres" first appeared in town records of 1677 in relation to having a road built to Peter Bulkeley's cleared nine acres, from that the name "Nine Acre Corner" came into use. It covered an area starting with a house on Sudbury Road approaching Powder Mill Road. The house was built after WWI by Alfred Uhler. It was designed by Mrs. Uhler's brother who was an artist and has been occupied by the William Ellis family since 1927.

The next house was occupied by Douglas Miller on the corner of Powder Mill Road. There were no houses on Powder Mill Road. On the other side of Sudbury Road the first house when we came was known as the Maguire Farm. There was a large barn which later was burned in a severe thunder storm. Then came Rynie Lufkin's with green houses. After Rynie built a new house (now Colonial Gardens) on the Fitchburg Turnpike the Russell Eisenhauers moved in and in a few years took down the top part of the barn and moved it next door and went there to live.

The next house had belonged to Sam Lufkin who had recently died. When his widow and daughters moved away, George Hallett who had been the manager married and bought the farm with its many greenhouses.

During WWII Mrs. Hallett had open house one day a week where the neighbors gathered for hospital mending and war work. Much was accomplished and it was a pleasant way to get together.

On the corner of the Fitchburg Turnpike the Eldridges lived. There was a large barn across the road on the site of the present filling station. It was burned at a time when someone seemed to be starting fires in various parts of town.

Turning left was Esther Anderson's farm with its many greenhouses and

then the Brigham farm.

Turning back to Sudbury Road was the farm we had bought and beyond that an old house occupied by Mr. Carrigan's daughter, Gladys Davis. Returning to Fitchburg Turnpike was the house occupied by Mike Barke, Esther Anderson's foreman. Turning right on Plainfield Road completed the circle with the farm we eventually bought and the Anson Wheeler farm. Mrs. Wheeler was living in the large house and the farm was being run by her two sons, Alden who lived in an apartment in the further part of her house, and Raymond in a house nearby.

There were no houses beyond the farm buildings and greenhouses.

It does not seem possible but I actually named Wheeler Road. It never had had a name and one day after we had moved there, Raymond said they were going to name the road and asked if I had any suggestions. I said I thought Wheeler Road was the logical name since it led to the Wheeler farm. Eventually the farm was sold and dotted with new houses.

There used to be picnics and parties, and if a death occurred, someone would go around collecting money for flowers. Gradually there were so many changes we did not know our neighbors.

Part of the Prime farm consisted of acreage bordering on White Pond.

There were a few cottages owned by people from out of town but it was sort of a no-man's land. One of the cottages was owned by a man from Lexington. He had talked with Floyd about the possibility of buying some land so his sister could start a girl's camp and Floyd had made a verbal agreement of $5,000.00.

Soon afterward a realty development company offered him $10,000 for the same property. Although Floyd was not under legal obligation, he felt duty bound to keep his agreement.

Douglas Miller was living on the corner of Powder Mill Road and had been distressed with the growing number of out-of-town cars that went to White Pond evenings. There was no supervision and it was noisy. When he learned of the proposed sale he acted as a far-sighted and public-spirited citizen and quickly got a group together to form the White Pond Associates and purchase the beach area.

These two so-called acts of God should be mentioned - the flood in March 1936 and the hurricane of 1938.

During the flood there was a vast lake between the two farms. The water came across Route 117 and up to the front of our lawn. There is a picture of Floyd driving a car on Sudbury Road with water up to the floor boards. Ralph is beside him paddling a canoe with Ernest and another child as passengers.

Ned Daniels was our minister at the time and he said it was the first time he ever had heard a truck honk to get a canoe out of the way.

During the hurricane we watched a large elm near the red barn slowly fall to the ground. A number of people stayed at our house that night because they could not get through on account of fallen trees.

The next morning was a scene of devastation everywhere with up-rooted trees all over town. I remember the surprising feeling of freedom I felt because the telephone was out of order.

Esther Anderson's greenhouses were a shambles and probably all the others.

By 1938 I was selling 1000 quarts a day and Jim DeNormandie of Lincoln was selling about 500 quarts daily. We decided to form a partnership and in 1939 opened The Dairy.

I had a herd of 60 guernseys and 60 holsteins and Jim had a herd of 70 gurnseys.

Milk and cream were delivered in Lincoln, Concord and Lexington, and in Cambridge as the business grew.

We bought land on the corner of Sudbury Road and Thoreau St. It was a vacant lot with a path leading to the depot. Just beyond was a small building housing a barbershop which we also purchased.

When The Dairy was built it contained all the latest equipment for processing a large quantity of milk, and there was also an ice-cream parlor which people enjoyed.

In 1941 we added a locker plant which flourished for several years until private freezers were available.

After Ernest graduated from college he became actively involved with the business.

In 1957 Jim sold his share in The Dairy so he could devote full time to being a representative in the legislature. DeNormandie and Verrill became the Concord Dairy.

At the height of the business we were selling 12,000 quarts daily including two hospitals and two truck loads of 40 qt. jugs to Harvard College.

At one time there were 22 dealers delivering milk in Concord, so competition was strong.

During the 60's the retail milk business in general started to decline and 1968 was our last year of operation.

Rising costs had made it necessary to reduce deliveries to 3 times weekly and finally the stores took over.

Today only a small quantity of milk is delivered, and that by outside dealers.

Eventually the building was remodeled to accommodate stores.

In the meantime we had bought the Concord Depot which was remodeled and enlarged to accommodate a restaurant, offices and stores.

The depot is the only property we retained. It is now owned and operated by Ernest and Sandy.

Amy and Floyd Verrill

Text mounted 21st August 2013; image mounted 12 October 2013-- rcwh.