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Dairy Farming in Longmeadow

Updated: Dec 1, 2022


Jarius R. Kibbe and oxen of Frank B. Allen. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Until the turn of the century, most Longmeadow families made a living by farming. Census records show that in 1880 Longmeadow (which at that time included East Longmeadow) had 155 farms and 7,723 acres of improved land. Most farmers raised crops (such as tobacco, corn, and potatoes) and livestock (cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry). Longmeadow had a strong dairy industry. In 1880, we had 719 milch cows which produced 181,739 gallons of milk and 48,545 pounds of butter. In 1896, trolley service began down Longmeadow Street and agricultural land in town began to be sold for residential housing development. Many farms remained as late as 1910 (after the split with East Longmeadow) when we still had 226 cows in town.


1894 Map of Longmeadow


The 1894 map of Longmeadow shows a neighborhood of five farms near the intersection of today’s Longmeadow Street and Maple Road. At the top of the hill on the west side of Longmeadow Street was Hillbrow Farm, a dairy farm which was owned by H. M. Burt.


Hillbrow Farm May 17, 1920. Image from the Pasiello Emerson Collection.


Springfield Republican, June 18, 1905


South of Hillbrow Farm was the farm of Jarius R. Kibbe. The farmhouse, which is today’s 1390 Longmeadow Street, was built by Gaius Bliss in 1789. Gaius was both a farmer and a tanner. After Gaius’s death in 1843, the house and farm were sold several times. Jarius Kibbe bought the farm from Simeon Simons in 1870 and he and his wife, Abigail, and daughter Julia, age 5, moved to Longmeadow. Jarius was a dairy farmer, but he also grew tobacco and potatoes and had 40 apple trees.


Kibbe farmhouse, 1390 Longmeadow Street. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Jarius R. Kibbe, barn, and farmhouse. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Kibbe farm looking west towards Connecticut River. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


South of the Kibbe farm was the tobacco farm of Gideon J. Burt. Gideon died in 1893 and the 1894 map shows the farm as owned by his widow, Elmira. Across Longmeadow Street south of Maple Road lived another tobacco farmer, Walter Beebe. North of Maple Road and across the street from the Kibbe family was the home of Frank B. Allen. Today we refer to this house as the “Keep House” and it is still standing at 1401 Longmeadow Street. The home was built in the 1700's by Samuel Keep, a farmer. Frank’s father, Britton P. Allen, bought the house in 1864 from one of Samuel’s descendants, Henry Keep. Frank grew up in this house and he took over the farming responsibilities after his father died in 1879. He built it into the largest dairy farm in Longmeadow.


Keep House, 1401 Longmeadow Street. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Community ties became stronger in 1886 when Jarius’ only child, Julia Kibbe, returned from Mt. Holyoke Seminary and married her neighbor across the street, Frank B. Allen.


Julia Kibbe, 1885. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Frank B. Allen. Image courtesy of Stephen Forbes.


Longmeadow farmers sold their milk to customers in urban Springfield. Especially in the days when refrigeration was not commonplace, milk had to get to market speedily before it would sour. Longmeadow dairy farmers collaborated with other Hampden County dairy farmers to efficiently deliver their product to consumers. By 1885, the Springfield Co-operative Milk Association was advertising its wares to Springfield residents.


Springfield Republican, March 5, 1885. Note the telephone connection that was available to Springfield residents.

I

n 1899, the Springfield Co-operative Milk Association became a stock-owned corporation; Frank Allen became one of the first shareholders. In 1901, the Association invested in a “100-gallon Pott’s pasteurizer, because of the growing demand for cream of good quality served in a clean and wholesome manner.” By 1906, the Association boasted that it handled milk from 500 farms. Residents of Springfield depended upon milk delivery from Longmeadow as much as Longmeadow farmers needed its Springfield markets. In 1888, after a heavy snowstorm, the Association plowed a path to Springfield so that the perishable milk could be sold.


Springfield Republican, March 15, 1888. Note that milk was delivered to Springfield before prominent Longmeadow citizens snowed in at the train depot were rescued.


Frank B. Allen was an active member of the Association, serving as President, Clerk, and Director. In 1904, Frank and Julia partitioned the Keep residence from the dairy farm and sold the farm to Howard A. Cleveland. Several years later, Mr. Cleveland sold the land to Bay State Realty Trust and the Trust developed the Greenwood Manor subdivision. The Allen family built a new house on the west side of Longmeadow Street, 1428 Longmeadow Street, and they moved there prior to 1910.


Springfield Republican, Sept. 26, 1904


Today, there are no dairy farms in Longmeadow, but we are fortunate to have some of the beautiful residences in which the farmers made their homes.

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Contributed by Beth Hoff, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member

Originally published October 13, 2022 Resources: Archives of the Longmeadow Historical Society Stephen Forbes Nate Chittenden, Dutch Hollow Farm 1880 Agricultural Census Schedule Longmeadow Annual Report 1910 Massachusetts, U.S., Marriage Records, 1840-1915 Springfield Republican: Mar. 5, 1885; Mar. 15, 1888; Mar. 24, 1899; Mar. 20, 1901; Sept. 26, 1904; June 18, 1905; Mar. 21, 1906

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