Century Farms

  5 MAY 1951

Torgerson Farm

Records of past activities on the Clarence T. Torgerson farm, Sprague Hill Road, have been left in the form of building still in use after 101 years in the family of Elihu Gifford.

The farm keeps a herd of 20 milking Holsteins and Guernseys, in addition to young stock, and a flock of 150 chickens.  Of the original 200 acres, 65 are still operated by Mr. Giffords descendants.

The farm was first purchased from the Holland Land Company in 1835 by Melancton W. Smith, who built a small dwelling on the land.  Elihu Gifford bought it from him for $3,000, with the transfer completed in 1850.

Mr. Gifford built the present house soon after he purchased the farm, extending the rear wing to the structure already there.  The original house was probably taken down shortly after, and only a few stones of the foundation are in evidence now. 

It was noted that the rear part of the present house was finished inside with lath split from two-inch boards and plastered.  It is probable that he lived in this part and in the original house while the new one was being completed.

Mr. Gifford, described as a "hard-working man," kept a herd of thoroughbred Durham cattle as well as some sheep.  It is believed he cleared most of the land himself.

Many of the buildings now on the farm were built by Mr. Gifford, including the dairy barn, which was given extensive remodeling, including construction of a new milk house, two years ago; the horse barn, now a garage and machinery barn; and a "corn barn," now used for storage.

Mr. Torgerson says when the new foundation was built for the dairy barn he dug into an old cattle yard under the gravel driveway.

Another old building on the farm was built as a shoe repair shop, and was located across the road from the house.  It is also finished inside with split lath, but it is not know who built and used it.  It has since been moved behind the house and is used for chickens.

Mr. Gifford, who was 41 when he purchased the farm, operated it until his death in 1879.  He and his wife, Mehitabel, had seven children.  The oldest, Maria, married Benjamin Palmeter and moved to his farm at Prendergast Flats, Kiantone.

In a codicil to his will, Elihu Gifford left the farm to three of his grandchildren, with the house and adjacent building and 50 acres of land going to William G. Palmeter, only son of the Palmeters.  The remainder was divided to two grand-daughters and have since passed out of the family.

Mr. Palmeter, who was married at 19, moved onto the farm in 1895, at the age of 34.  He kept a small heard of mixed dairy cattle, and few pigs.  The pig house which he built is now in use as a chicken house.

He had two children by his first wife.  After her death, he married Mrs. Elida Gates Billings, and adopted her 5-year-old adopted daughter, Olive E. Torgerson.

Mr. Palmeter deeded the farm to his second wife, who lived on the farm until September last year.  Mr. Torgerson took over the farm about 25 years ago, and purchased it from Mrs. Palmeter in 1942.

When he began operating the farm, the herd included one Durham cow and a few Holsteins.  He has built up the herd and added 15 acres to the farm by purchase of part of the original land.

Mr. and Mrs. Torgerson have two daughters, Marian Elida, 18, now training in nursing at Buffalo; and Margaret Louise, 16, a student at Falconer Central School.