Century Farms

  26 MAY 1951

Ryder Farm

The Maple Boarder farm of Walter T. and Charles W. Ryder, on the Laona-Hamlet Road in the Town of Arkwright, has developed through its 103-year history into one of Chautauqua County's foremost Guernsey farms.

Now embracing 256 acres, plus an additional 100 acres of rented land, the Ryder farm was established April 8, 1848, when two brothers, Theron A and Deloss Ryder, purchased a 93-acre plot from Nelson Vanners for $1,050.

They had come here from the eastern part of the state with their father.  Mr. Ryder says Deloss Ryder probably never lived at the farm, but his father Robert Ryder, first moved into a house on the George Sager farm.

When this house burned, they moved into a log cabin on the present farm, about 500 feet to the south of the present house.  The first section of the present house was built about 1850, and in 1853 the moved into it and burned the log cabin.

The other part of the house was first built across the road by Plimpton Jenks, Theron's brother-in-law, who had purchased a small plot of land.  Three years later he sold this section back to Theron Ryder, and in 1856 his house was moved across the road and joined the original Ryder house.

This house is still the farm homestead, although it has been kept modern by periodic improvements.  Part of the present barn is probably the original barn on the farm.  The roof was raised in 1918 and a new addition was added in 1938.

The next member of the family to operate the farm was William A. Ryder, son of Theron Ryder, who was born in 1854.  One of his brothers, Charles Ryder, went into the oil business in Pennsylvania, later returning to become a peace justice in the Town of Villenova.

William Ryder married Clara Weaver, a neighbor, and took over the farm when he was 20 upon the death of his father.  He was active in its operation until his death in 1943.

His son, Walter T. Ryder, present senior partner in the farm, was a half-partner of the farm with his father from the time he became 21. In 1905 he married Mrs. Ryder, the former Mary Butcher, Villenova.

Charles William  Ryder, 34, their son, has been in partnership in the farm since he was in high school.  He married Alice Nobles, South Dayton, in 1942, and their three children, Ann, 4, Charles Jr. 2, and John, 11 months, represent the sixth generation of Ryders on the family farm.

The original purchasers of the farm surveyed several plots, but much of the land around Laona was then swampy and they wanted higher, well-drained land.    Walter Ryder remembers when parts of the farm were being cleared, by pulling up tree stumps with a team of oxen.

The Ryder farm has always been principally devoted to dairy.  Originally they kept a mixed herd, but converted to Holsteins in 1910.  The present Guernsey herd originated in 1932, with a project heifer owned by Charles Ryder, and an excellent production record for the breed has been set on the farm since that time.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Ryder remembered a butter churn, used on the farm about 40 years ago, which was powered by a dog running on a treadmill.

The original farm was expanded in 1920 and 1932 by purchases of two entire neighboring farms, to a total of 256 acres.   A new house was built in 1949-50 to accommodate the Charles Ryder family.