Billings Farm and Dairy in the 20th Century

May 26, 2010

in Woodstock

Billings Descendant Brings a Rockefeller into the Fold
With help from George Aitken and others, Julia Billings carried on Frederick’s work for many years after his death. After her death in 1914, the children of Frederick and Julia Billings, maintained the estate in the tradition of stewardship that they had inherited from their parents. Mary Montagu Billings French and her sister Elizabeth Billings carried on the farm and the forest. During the Great Depression, the Windsor County Fair fell on hard times and its commissioners finally sold the fairgrounds to Billings Farm. By that time, the farm itself had been much reduced from its former glory. In 1936, the herd was dispersed, leaving just a handful of purebred Jerseys on the farm. During the Second World War, a large part of the fertile acreage of the Ottauquechee meadow became forty plots of Victory Gardens for Woodstock residents.

In 1943, in the midst of the war years, Mary French and Elizabeth Billings made a bold move that would ensure the future of Billings Farm. They pooled their resources and hired Harold Corkum, a professional manager, with a plan to rebuild the farm as a modern dairy operation. With new barns, milk-handling facilities, and a reestablished herd, Billings Farm joined the post-war boom with a fleet of milk trucks and local delivery throughout the Woodstock area. In 1954 the Billings Dairy was incorporated. It later merged with Woodstock’s Starlake Dairy and built a new bottling plant in Wilder, Vermont. Through the 1970s, Billings was well known as a local producer of outstanding dairy products, including a holiday egg nog that many said could not be beat.


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