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H.A.C. Taylor and The Glen Barns

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Glen Farm developed when Henry A.C. Taylor, a successful banker and merchant from New York, began to purchase farmland in Portsmouth. Taylor had vacationed in Newport and owned a house there, but he liked the idea of a working farm. The first purchase was 111 acres from Halsey Coon which included two houses, a grist mill, two barns, and two corn cribs.  An 1885 map shows that this piece of land stretched from the Sakonnet to the barn complex.  In 1885 Taylor bought 700 acres around Glen Road and he officially established Glen Farm.   Taylor began to buy and consolidate the smaller farms in the area into a farm that would at one time reach 1500 acres.  

In 1889 he began to breed Guernsey cows and would later breed Percheron horses and Horned Dorset sheep.  He was very serious about scientific breeding and kept detailed records of milk and fat production as well as the number of calves born.

An October 1911 to March 1912 quarterly edition of National Magazine has an article on Rhode Island farming that details Taylor’s efforts with Glen Farm.  Taylor’s intention was “not merely to develop an ideal farm, but also to establish a herd of Guernsey cattle upon the place that should attain and hold pre-eminance in this country.”  Taylor spared nothing in raising the best.  He hand picked the cattle from the Isle of Guernsey.

The article goes on to explain that the arrangement of the barns and stables and their construction were all specifically designed.  The last of the barns built was especially modern.   “There was an inner wall of brick with a six inch air space between it and the outer wall, which supplies proper ventilation and insures a uniform temperature within.”  Even the drinking basins for the animals have water “tempered by the furnaces in the basement which warm the buildings.”

Mr. Barclay, the farm manager, explained that H.A.C. Taylor instructed him “not to study how to make money, but how to spend money in ways that will conduce to the highest development of his pets and pride, the Guernseys of Glen Farm.”  Even with that instruction, Glen Farm was exceedingly profitable.  The stock raised at Glen Farm was very desirable.

H.A.C. Taylor was proud of his animals.  The walls of the manager’s office were lined with hundreds of prize ribbons. When a friend challenged his claim that “Missy of the Glen” had set a record for butterfat production, he brought a lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Taylor won the suit but paid more for the lawyers than he won in the judgement.

At least twenty-six families lived and worked on the farm. In its heyday there were up to 100 workers.  They raised all they needed for the families and the animals.

If you are interested in more information on the Glen and Glen Farm, you might visit my other blog: glenhistory.wordpress.com

Out of the Attic: Glen Farm Ribbons

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Ribbon

Second Place Ribbon from Newport County Fair 1914

The theme of this year’s Portsmouth Historical Society Museum displays is “Out of the Attic:  Items of Interest from our Collection.” Among the items to be featured is a cache of award ribbons from Glen Farm.  These are a recent addition to our collection and they offer an opportunity to highlight the outstanding success of Glen Farm. The Taylor family, like so many of the gentleman farmers in our town, were very proud of what they bred or grew on their farm.  It was a matter of pride and sometimes a point of contention.   A 1910 National Magazine article reports.  ” In most national dairy shows and state expositions, the Glen Farm stock has taken many of the prizes, both for butter fat tests and as breeders. Perhaps the brightest star in all Mr. Taylor’s constellation of prize winners is “Missy of the Glen.”  But another gentleman farmer claimed that Missy’s butter fat content was not as high as claimed.  H.A.C. Taylor, the owner of Glen Farm,  brought that farmer as far as the Supreme Court.  Taylor won after the state college monitored Missy’s butter fat for an entire year.  According to Taylor’s son Reginald, the award given by the court didn’t cover the legal costs, but Missy and the Glen Farm workers were vindicated.Missy of the Glen