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Nature and custom limited the extent that Reynoldston was a farming community. The settlers of the 1870’s were few, and unlike the farmers in the St. Lawrence Valley, had no broad expanses of good land. During Reynoldston’s most active years, 1880-1930 land was cleared, and forests cut. The woods receded further and further. No one took advantage of the increasingly cleared land to have a farm larger than a few acres.
It was back breaking labor to clear acres of hardwood timber, and the further back from his house a man cleared the hillier the ground. When his small farm was finally free of trees and stumps a man faced further discouragement: the earth was lumpy with endless
stones and heavy boulders. “This whole country up here was stone – big boulders were left in the field and plowed around.” *
The impossibility of large scale farming was evident to anyone with eyes. Reynoldston attracted a few settlers after the Civil War who would attempt to be serious farmers, the Allen Bordeaux’s and the Joseph Campbells and th Oliver Trushaws. Even with them they were lucky to create subsistence farms at best and had to fnd a varieity of work to provide for their large growing families…The
largest farm other than the Reynolds, was Allan Bordeaux’s, who divided his fifty acreas between pasture land and hop yards. His son Albert had about thirty acres in which to pasture his cows, grow crops and till a vegetable garden. Like that of his neighbors, most of Albert’s land was seeded with stone. For most of the residents of Reynoldston, farming was a small vegetable plot with a few pigs, chickens and perhaps a cow that help these proud lumberjacks feed their families. Women and children took care of the garden and
the animals, while men cut hay, plowed, and butchered in the fall. Because they spent most of their time working in the mill and in the woods as loggers, they could hardly be called farmers and did not see themselves as anything but lumberjacks and mill hands.
*(From oral history taped interview, Eugene Bordeaux, Juan, 1969).
Mr. Langlois: How about your father’s farm?
Mr.Bordeaux: Probably five acres: Corn and oats, potatoes. Yes, my grandfather’s farm was right next to mine. Oh, no my grandfather had more. He raised horses. He had as high as eighteen horses at one time. He raised horses. He had a bigger farm. He raised hops too. He raised hops. He probably had fifty or sixty acres or so. (the other neighbors) They were all small. They were not farms. just a garden plot
Eugene Bordeaux oral history interviews 1969 tape 11 p.21
Mr.Bordeaux: Sheep. My grandfather raised a lot of sheep. Yeah, yeah, we did that in the fall, or in the spring, I guess in the spring we sheared them. We sell it at the below. My grandmother used to send some and had it made into wool. She spun herself, make it up herself. We took it to Malone. A lot places bought it.
Eugene Bordeaux oral history interviews 1969 tape 11 p. 20
Tom & Jenny Campbell
They used to have bees you know to clear land. In the spring of the year. Ten to 15 people. Some people would come with their team and plow , pick stones. They ate in the house yeah…Mostly most one woman. Who ever had the bee they provided.
Of about 3 acres of corn and 15 -20 acres of hay. Potatoes,…when I first bought that up there ( field to the south of Reynolston) I used to raise potatoes, I raised 3 or 4 acres. I ain’t for quite a while….sell them and take them down to Brushton. They used to car potatoes years ago. Take them down there in a wagon and they put them right in a car (railroad).
Holsteins, then I turned to Jerseys. Well once in a while..of course my boys help me
(Most people did haying by themselves) Well old man Shephard down here had some cows ( when he was bringing up his children) Oliver Trushaw , Albert Bordeaux, Old man Bordeaux, Nelson Trushaw, Philias Moquin, up further they might have had a cow at most.
(farming profitable about 1910) no it wasn’t. We got something ..I think it was $1. something per hundred for milk…maybe a dollar and half for milk.
(children working on farm) I was always away up in the woods. One (daughters)…she helped quite a bit.
(Jenny) My boys had to help me a lot. I had to work outside, when they were small. I would work outside ….
I had a mowing machine…horse drawn and I cut the corn with a sickle. It would not take long (to harvest corn) three acres cut that in two or three days…you had to husk the corn for the hens (feed the hens corn) (used the husk for bedding) Stored crops in the barn. The corn as I took it out I took it from he fields and fed it to the cows. Sometimes I would store it in the barn floor. I used the mowing machine (on the lawn) not very often the sides too.
Tom Campbell oral history interviews 1970 tape 1 p.1-2
Making Maple Sugar (Sugaring)
Previous to the lumbering of Reynoldston, the area was rich in virgin hardwood forests. With maple trees one of the dominant varieties in the virgin forest it is not surprising that sugar bushes developed. There were five sugar bushes in the area at the turn of the century, but over time most were logged or burned. Only one survived through the 20th Century. The one that remained contains 95 acres, and was first owned by the Bigelow’s, some of Mrs. Orson Reynolds’ ancestors, and then by the Reynolds’ themselves. The Reynolds’ never sugared there but did cut down some of the great maples for lumber. In 1922 they sold it to Tom Campbell, who still sugars there for almost fifty years.
Besides the sugar bush that they sold to Campbell, the Reynolds had deep in the logging woods a fifteen acre grove across from the Brooklyn Cooperage Railroad spur. The Reynolds let the sugar bush out on shares, asking in return either money or so many gallons of syrup. Tom Campbell’s brother George was one of the men who worked this sugar bush, and their father, Joeseph, sugared in another grove off the center of the Eddy road. Allen Bordeaux and Gilbert Muller also had sugar bushes, and Muller’s was the scene of more parties than any of the other four along the Eddy road.
Maple sugar and syrup were staple sweeteners, perhaps more common than white sugar, especially in Reynoldstons’ early days. Allen Bordeaux’s sugarhouse later served as the dwelling for a handicapped man and his wife, a perfect symbol for the rough and pragmatic tone of the whole community.
It was a mile up the road….since 1922. Well the whole farm is 93 acres… we tapped over 1500 trees (the sugar bush existed before Tom Campbell bought it). They hadn’t run it for a good many years. I bought it from Reynolds and they never made no sugar there. Old Bigelow made sugar there. He used to boil in a pan and he never made no syrup, he had no evaporator. It must have been in the 1880’s. Reynolds took it over from Bigelow. Reynolds’ they cut the timber off of it once.
Well you had to tap the trees. We went around first and scattered the buckets and made the roads around you know. Then we begun to tap. And then we begun to gather the sap for the sugar house and then boil it into syrup. It held 30 barrels….about a day to boil it. I could boil it in a day….syrup ..make about two to three cans and they hold 9 gallons to a can so about twenty five gallons. My sons and then my brother over here and (my wife) When I could get my brother she used to go up and boil it and I used to gather it.. My brother Johnny over here you know. And Albert Campbell over here.
(Sugar snow) Well that’s sugar on the snow. It is almost in sugar. It is (also) heavy snow yes in the spring of the year. When the wind is in the north-east ( knew it was time to sugar) March … (the trees in the sugar bush have been there) as long as I have had them
Thomas Campbell Tape 1 p 3
Mr. Bordeaux: Tommy Campbell…the Bigelow Sugar bush that is right…..and then the Reynolds’got it after them. The Bigelows and the Reynolds were related some way. The Reynolds never made no sugar here in this place, but they had a great big sugar bush way out above the railroad tracks…great big one up there. They let it out either for so much or give me so many gallons of syrup for your share….. Mostly done on shares I think. My uncle run that one…Oh yes , big sugar bush…right across the rail road tracks …big sugarbush…. Approximately 15 (acres)…..
Langlois: Did they ever have picnics up there that you knew of….
Eugene Bordeaux: Well I imagine they had sugar picnics……they called it “sugar licks” Sugar licks…they put wax on snow…Muller??had a sugar bush up there too…..Gilbert Muller…he used to have parties.
Mr. Langlois: And there is one back here too right?
Mr. Bordeaux: That is on mine….who owned it …Reynolds’ sold that. My Grandfather run that for years….Grandfather Campbell. He sugared back there for years…big big pans and built fire under it …I made sugar rather good…up my grandfather (Allen Bordeaux) had a sugar bush up there too….. When he got through making sugar and give it up I and another young fellow around here Moquin. He lived here (same house as Eugene and Daisy lived in later) at that time. I and him went up there.
Mr. Langlois: That is different from Tommy Campbell’s?
Mr. Bordeaux: Yes….
Mr. Langlois: And where was your Grandfather Allen’s sugar bush?
Mr. Bordeaux: Up above here about…you know where Leonard Bombard’s place is ….quite a ways up….they had wooden buckets and wooden spouts at that time they done themselves…
Eugene Bordeaux Tape 5 p. 4-5