While researching the initial location of the Hills Garrison Marker for last week’s photo, I was reminded of this aerial photo of The Garrison Farm at 187 Webster Street. The garrison marker was placed by Kimball Webster in the open field a short distance east (to the right) and down the farm road between the barns. At that time, in 1902, this farm of about 60 acres was owned by Justin M. Sleeper and operated by himself and his son-in-law Joseph Howard Legallee.
Earlier and following some medical issues Joseph Howard Legallee could no longer continue his work as a paper hanger. It was decided that he and his father-in-law Justin M. Sleeper would go into farming together. In 1891 Sleeper purchased a farm from John M. Thompson on what is now the Marsh Road. This farm later became the Marsh Place and the site of the present golf course. Joseph Howard Legallee, his wife Eva, their 2 year old son Howard Sleeper Legallee and his father-in-law Justin Sleeper moved to Hudson. By 1900 they sold the Marsh Road farm and purchased the Hill(s) Farm of about 60 acres on Webster Street at the intersection with Derry Lane. This farm included 20 tillable acres and a house in need of repair. The farm fields were in the river valley and extended on both sides of Webster Street. On the west they stretched to the river bank. On the east was the house, pasture for the family cows, and a year-round brook which provided a gravity fed water source for the family home, the farm, as well as water source to the Ferryall Farm (later the Rowell Farm and now Sparkling River) as well as The Hardy Place at the end of Elm Avenue (now the home of Dr. and Mrs. Brody). The Sleeper/Legallee family remained on and expanded the farm operation for 3 generations until about 1950 when the farm was sold to Colby Brothers.
As a farm it changed hands one more time about 1959 when it was operated by George Colby, Jr and Taze “Mac” McPherson. This weeks photo was taken some time after 1959 but before George and “Mac” built the Garrison Farm Stand just south of the farmhouse. The farm stand became a ready source for locally grown produce. By the late 1980’s and into 1990 subdivision of the farm occurred. The west field became a residential development (Scenic Lane and Shoreline Drive) and the east side became both residential and commercial. Currently a small convenience store and landscaping business has developed from the farm stand.
Prior to the 1900 purchase by Sleeper/Legallee this farm takes its roots back to 1661 as it was the northern most part of the land granted to Joseph Hills by the Province of Mass. Joseph willed this northern parcel of about 89 acres to his son Samuel. In turn 3 of Samuel’s’ sons – Nathaniel Henry, and James built a garrison and settled here about 1710. It remained a Hill(s) farm until 1900.
A number of Hudson locals remember the farm stand under ownership of George and “Mac”. As owners they continued to truck produce to markets but also marketed their produce locally. A few residents may even remember the ownership of Howard Legallee, his wife Phoebe, and their daughters Shirley, Beth, and Frances. It was Howard Legallee who transitioned the farm from a family dairy farm into a productive market garden. This began as early as 1913 when Howard completed a special course in agriculture at UNH Durham. He specialized in potatoes and later potatoes and sweet corn. One year his production reached 4500 bushels of potatoes. With the addition of irrigation and the proper storage barn he was able to sell potatoes year round.
Foremost in what I have read was their participation in the 1939 Old Home Day parade with a huge potato pulled on a flat bed trailer by Howard on his John Deere tractor. The family worked together on this float; constructing a potato from canvas, colored brown with eyes, sewn into the shape of a potato and stuffed with hay. Both photos from the Historical Society Collection.