The Lost Farms of Sharon
Sarah Coon recently gave us a list of old Sharon farms compiled around 2000 by her father, Morris Paley, and Jimmy Morehouse. There are 89 farms on this impressive list, sorted by the road on which they were located. Not being from Sharon, I always enjoy documents like this because they help me to become more familiar with the town’s history and also with the background of some of the objects in our collection. As I skimmed the list, a few of the names stood out because they were dairy farms and we have milk bottles with those names on them.
Lewis Devaux ran a farm up on Jackson Hill Road, from which he sold milk in clear glass bottles that said, in raised letters, “Lewis Devaux, Pure Milk, Sharon, Conn”. The Highfield Farm on Mudge Pond Road printed a green drawing of a cow on its bottles, along with the words “Highfield Farm, Sharon, Conn, Guernsey Milk”. Stamped into the bottle near the bottom, in raised letters, is “Sealed mTr SS” and several other numbers and letters which might excite a rabid milk bottle collector but are pure Greek to me! The Webotuck Farm, on Low Road, also had a cryptic code “Sealed BB48 Duraglass” on its gracefully shaped quart bottles.
But the oldest (and easily my favorite) milk bottle in our collection came from a farm not mentioned on Mr. Paley’s list – the Per Lee dairy farm. The glass bottle is small, about 7″ high, with an unusual metal cap held closed by a wire clamp and is said to date to 1890. Stamped on the bottle in raised letters on the front is “E.J. Per Lee Sharon Dairy, Sharon, Conn”, and on the back side “This bottle to be washed and returned. Not to be bought or sold”. No nonsense directions, if you ask me. And no cryptic codes.
Where was the Per Lee dairy? I felt like I had seen the name here recently, but where? I finally found it in a letter from Everett B. Per Lee squirreled away in our genealogy boxes. Writing in 1963 at the age of 83, Mr. Per Lee gives a delightful rambling description of his family’s life in Sharon.
My family moved from Ellsworth to Sharon in the spring of 1881 or 1882. There he [my father] operated on a farm owned by Gilbert L. Smith, a little over a half mile from Sharon’s main street on the road to Amenia, N.Y. Soon after that they joined the Congregational Church. A few years afterwards he began supplying milk to the Sharon Inn, also the Bartram House. Later that route was extended to the whole village and still later to Sharon Valley, which at that time was a thriving community… (Here he digresses into a discussion of the Hotchkiss family)…
To get back to the dairy, my father moved to the place on the Lakeville road in 1894. The farm contained only thirty acres so my father rented another from two men, Dunham and Levin, and continued to supply the village with milk until 1908. At that time he suffered a stroke and passed away on November 12th, 1910… (more wonderful rambling) …
I have four grand children and three great- great grandchildren. My great grandmother came over in the Mayflower. She did not practice birth control, had eighteen (18) children.
Are you still reading my ravings? I’ll be 83, Aug 23, 1963,
Sincerely, Everett B. Per Lee
This letter gives me even more reason to treasure the little milk bottle in our collection! Thank you, Mr. Per Lee. If you know anything about the Per Lee farm, or any others in town for that matter, please let me know. The items in our collection mean so much more when they have some real life added to them.