Birch Hill Farm History
In 1779, George and Sara Lovejoy Lake of southern New Hampshire purchased 200 acres from what was known as the Apthorp tract in South Woodstock. George Lake was known as a master builder, and on this land he constructed what is now the Main House at Birch Hill Farm.
The 1790 Census lists George Lake, his wife, and 8 children (5 of whom were born in this house) residing here on the Loop Road.
George and his family cleared and farmed their land. Because rich and fertile soil had built up for years, the crops of wheat, flax, and vegetables produced remarkable yields. At this time, maple sugar was produced by most Vermont families; it was common for a family to make 200-300 lbs. of sugar during the 3-4 week sugaring season in the spring. Many families raised sheep: “Sheep rams and other animals ran at large and greatly troubled the South Woodstock population until 1819, when the town created boundaries where animals were not allowed loose.”
The farm was transferred in 1808 to George’s son Daniel, who was born in the Main House in 1784. Daniel was a successful farmer and was known for his great physical strength and industry. “At 20 years of age, he tapped 600 trees and made an average annually of about 4,000 lbs. of sugar. He once mowed an acre in 56 minutes using a scythe 5 feet long. He mowed 6 acres a day, yielding 9 tons of hay. He made thousands of sap buckets and tubs, and in his leisure made snare and bass drums, and painted his wife’s portrait.” Clearly, Daniel was a man who made good use of his time!
Lake family descendants sold the farm around 1855, following which it passed through a succession of various owners. In 1929, it came into the possession of Thomas Boyd, and the Main House was recognized by that name for some time. In 1950, the farm was purchased by Peyton and Eileen Wilmot, who owned it for nearly 40 years. In 1986, it was purchased by a new owner and renamed Birch Hill Farm.
Today, Birch Hill Farm flourishes as a diversified working farm, with a focus on horses and sugaring, among many other activities, much as its first owners did over 225 years ago.