, Derry, New Hampshire


December 6, 2012

Column: Gone are the days when milk came right to your door

Derry used to be home to almost as many cows as it did people. Some — like Robert Frost — had a single cow to provide milk for the family. Others — like the Hood Farm — had dozens of milch cows that were producing milk to be sold locally or shipped by rail express to distant cities. During the 20th century there were 22 commercial dairies in Derry and five in Londonderry that sold milk in bottles marked with their names. Some of these are quite rare and worth hundreds of dollars; others are worth only a few dollars. In the latter category are those of the Ross Corner Dairy of Derry.

The origins of this dairy farm of blessed memory began in Boston in 1907. Eugene W. Ross, 47, of Cambridge, Mass., was a route supervisor for the H.P. Hood Dairy Co.; his 25 year-old son Bert was a receiver of dairy deliveries and butter maker at the Hood plant in Charlestown, Mass. One day they heard from a man on the Hood milk train that there was a neat little milk farm for sale in Derry. And it was being offered at a price they could afford. They bought the farm sight-unseen from Chandler Knights. The house was on McAllister Court and they bottled their milk in a barn directly across from the present library on Broadway.

In 1909, the E.W. Ross & Son Dairy rented the John Folsom farm at the corner of Folsom and Manchester roads. In April 1910, they began bottling their milk from this new location. They began to buy modern processing equipment and were the first local dairy to steam clean their milk bottles.

Soon this 12-cow farm became a local landmark and the area became known as Ross Corner. In 1909, the Ross Dairy was one of six commercial dairy farms in town. The others were the Atwood, Eaton, Elwood, Hood and Ring farms. In time, as their business grew, the Ross family owned three local farms.

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