Monday, January 7, 2013

The NYS Agricultural Society, Holsteins, Pecksport, and the Chenango Breeders Association

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the NYS agricultural Society a group that has helped forward agricultural education over its long history, a history that also includes its promotion of all of our county fairs. (Below a link to a great article on the society done by Debra Groom.)

An important part of that history of course, is the Holstein-Friesian breed of cattle that have become the staple of the milk producers in our rural NYS area.  The Holsteins always seem to be associated with Gerrit Miller of Peterboro, who helped forge the registering of that breed…but the breed has been in NYS in small numbers since the times of the Dutch and the Holland Land Company.

Alonzo Peck son of Josiah Peck owner of Pecksport
who ran the warehouse and was a teacher at
Madison's Colgate.
In the 1870’s a group of businessmen called the Chenango Breeders Association, set off for Holland with the main purpose of bringing back a “breeding herd” of cattle. The trip was successful and this group of men managed to bring over 270 head back.  What is interesting is that not one was lost on an arduous voyage across the ocean and up (the then going defunct) Chenango Canal to Pecksport. 

Pecksport has always been a sort of mystery to some people… as today it is just a spot on the map located in the Town of Eaton…but in its day it had the first actual modern dairy in Madison County run by the Burchard family …a cheese factory...and warehouse company.  One of the Burchard sons, Sylvester Jr. was one of the Chenango Breeders Association members.  Burchard with other members...Charles Payne of Eaton….Alva Cole of Eaton… are actually credited with writing the points by which we judge the breed today.  Sylvester Burchard Jr. himself became a noted judge at the New York State Fair for many years.

These men actually lived and breathed cows, and I have many of the pictures of this early herd in the Eaton Museum with artifacts belonging to this noted family.  It is of course, Holsteins and milk production that helped replace the fading Hop industry in Madison County… as a matter of fact Burchard often referred to the hops plant as “the Devil’s weed”.

PS… Pecksport was also the busiest port on the Chenango Canal located at the end of Leland's Pond and the birthplace of famous baseball player Hooks Wiltse.  Also of interest is that just a few miles below Pecksport on route 46 near Munnsville, is the birthplace of another famous dairyman…William Dempster Hoard founder of Hoard’s Journal for Dairymen.

Enjoy a trip to the area......

Link to Debra Groom's article..

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