Colchester Historical Society

P.O. Box 112
Downsville, New York 13755


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2019 Calendar--Colchester Farm Legacy

Farm Legacy Calendar

The 2019 calendar contains 44 pages of photographs and history of farming in Colchester Township. These
fundraiser calendars are $20 and make wonderful holiday gifts. Pick up your copies at the Historical
Society, Town Clerk’s Office at 72 Tannery Road, the Downsville Diner, Main Street, Downsville, NY or
order here online.  Proceeds from calendar sales will be used to purchase preservation materials for the Society’s collection materials.

Agricultural Heritage
Supporting a farm with just a dairy was very difficult. Milk prices fluctuated and commercial creameries
often set prices so low that farmers needed to look for additional sources of income to avoid financial ruin.
Many farmers added to their dairy operations by adding cash crops of timber, and operating or leasing
Blue Stone quarries. These products were rafted down the East Branch of the Delaware River in the
spring. After 1906 when the D & E built the railway between East Branch and Arkville, trains took over the
shipping of timber and bluestone. Cutting four-foot wood for the local acid factories in Corbett,
Shinhopple, Horton and Cooks Falls also added cash to support local farms. Farmers also raised grains,
cauliflower, hay, hops and tobacco to supplement their dairy operations. Between 1850 and 1883 four
cigar factories operated in Downsville. Most farmers also tapped their sugar maples and made maple
products for home use and for sale to town and city markets. The Town of Colchester also included a
tannery, five grist mills, 25 sawmills, a shoe peg and clothes pin factories and a shingle mill.

Colchester’s Agricultural Heritage
The 1870 New York State Agricultural Census listed 370 dairy farms in Colchester, farming slowly declined
through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The construction of the Pepacton Reservoir eliminated all
of the farms in Pepacton’ s Pleasant Valley. The move from agriculture to factory-based industries during
and after World War II impacted the Town’s dairy industries. Herd buy-out programs also reduced the
local dairy farms and today there are only two operating dairy farms in Colchester, along with a few small
livestock operations.

Shaw farmMattson farm
Shaw Farm-Gregory Hollow Road, Downsville      Mattson Harmonie Farm, Route 30, Downsville


Colchester People Places Remembered, 1792-1992 Paperback Bicentennial Edition

A Project of the Colchester Historical Society

Edited by Thomas A. Flannery, Susan Koon, Arthur M. Merrill

Copyright: 1992 Colchester Historical Society, Downsville, New York, 2011 Paperback edition.

This book contains 413 pages of local history of the first two hundred years of Colchester.  It includes local lore, oral histories, poetry, photographs, maps, pamphlets, statistics, diagrams, charts and an 1986 Inventory of the Colchester Historical Society Collection.

To order your copy, please fill in the order form and mail it with your check for $25 plus $5.75 shipping and handling.
 Copies also available at the Delaware County Historical Association bookstore,



 Interpretive Historical Signs Project Booklet

Copyright 2013 Colchester Historical Society, Downsville, New York

This twenty page booklet provides a driving tour with GPS locations of the twelve interpretive signs placed throughout Colchester Township and a copy of each sign.

To order your copy, please fill in the order form and mail it with your check for $5 plus $3.00 shipping and handling.

Copies may also be purchased at the Colchester Town Hall, 72 Tannery Road, Downsville, New York 13755.

Click to download order form.


  Interpretive Sign Project