Sunday, February 11, 2018

McAdam Stock Farm

At the turn of the 20th century, off Gridley-Paige Road  just beyond the intersection with Shanley Road, was a showplace, a farm of about 500 acres where pure Holstein-Friesian cattle were bred. The farm, which started out as a modest 70-some acres, had been owned by generations of Gridleys, from Nodadiah, one of first settlers, whose son Asahel Gridley built the brick main house, to Josephine Gridley, widow of Joseph Gridley. It was Josephine McAdam Gridley who, in 1900, sold the property to her brother, Quentin McAdam. 

Although he grew up in Deansboro in the Town of Marshall, McAdam lived in Utica and was treasurer and general manager of the largest cotton milling concern in the world, Quentin McAdam  & Co., which eventually became the Utica Knitting Company.

Quentin McAdam was an ambitious person - he joined the knitting mill at age 16 and was running it little more than 10 years later - and he started right out to make the Gridley property, which was at that time called the Brothertown Stock Company, the outstanding farmstead it was to become. New barns were built, more land was purchased, and repairs and modernization were made on the old buildings. The farm had its own fire department, compete with helmets, in the first part of the long barn (now converted into a home owned by, I believe, Dave and Tanya Brown).

Once the outbuildings were complete, McAdam, with the help of E.B. Van (or Von) Heyne as business manager, purchased 20 purebred Holstein-Freisians. Among them were four daughters of what was then the greatest sire of the breed; and included the famous Sadie Vale Concordia, who broke the world's record of 7 and 30 day milk and butter production. Many more successful cows came in succession, giving Brothertown Farms world-wide fame. Everything was done on an up-to-date scale, including an automatic watering system for the stock. Nothing was more important than the cattle breeding business. Wonderful care was given to those animals. It is reported that a nine-week old bull, with impeccable parentage, sold for $4,000, a price unheard-of at that time. The farm was one of the best of many outstanding farms at that time, with the land being cultivated as skillfully as the livestock was treated. Eventually, there were 100 head of cattle, young and old. The calf barn was "ablaze with electric light at night...looking like the busy marts of trade."

Over the years the acreage increased, as more and more neighboring farms were purchased. Besides the manor house were about six homes for the workers on the farm, creating a unique community. Once the stock farm was dissolved, the houses became private homes on a dead-end road - McAdam Road. Joanne Bolan, who lived up there, remembers it as a social kind of place where you knew and valued your neighbors.

Early in his ownership of the estate, Mr. McAdam set about to beautify the acreage. Surrounding the manor were acres of tilled, fertile farmland, as well as woodland and parks. At one time there were bridges over a trout brook, and deer enclosures; and today one can see the remnants of what was formerly an orchard of over a thousand apple trees. There were also 21 pools and waterfalls of different sizes, some of which still can be admired. Ed Bennett, who grew up on Gridley Paige Road, told  me that he goes over there often in an attempt to keep the property in shape.

Florist Adelaide Foote of Deansboro had the supervision of the flowers and shrubs around the homestead. A large variety of plants were stocked, and almost every wildflower which can flourish in this climate were planted. Also, Miss Foote experimented with several varieties of orchids.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Quentin McAdam lived on South Street, Utica, during the heydays of the Brothertown/McAdam stock farm, the McAdams spent weekends and most of the summer months at the homestead, overseeing the farm. The farm was a beautiful and successful estate during their tenure there.

Quentin McAdam died in December, 1918, and his sister Josephine Gridley, who lived in the Gridley Homestead,  passed away 18 hours after her brother's death. His nephew, Oscar Gridley, son of his sister Josephine, who was groomed to succeed his uncle, did so. By 1923 he split his time between his home in Utica and the Gridley Homestead; however, his heart was not in the running of the farm: he did not have his uncle's passion for the animals and the land; he spent less and less time there. Eventually, the stock was sold and the farm dissolved. For a while, Mr. & Mrs. John Losee of Richfield Springs (Mrs. Losee was Oscar Gridley's sister) lived there; now most of the land is possessed by the Zwiefels, and the homes are privately owned.

It was a beautiful place, and still is. The sad thing, in Mr. Bennett's opinion, is that no one knows it is there and few remember it's former glory. The pools and the waterfalls, not to mention the existing vegetation, are worth the trip to Gridley Paige Road to enjoy the view, and to revel in it all.

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