Glen Farm Memories: the Bedroom Painting

Posted October 7, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized

Portsmouth Historical Society’s Celebration of Portsmouth Women last weekend has been bringing back memories of Glen Farm and the ladies we honored – Edith Bishop Taylor Nicholson, (a pillar of our community and the owner of Glen Farm) and the Camara sisters (Gerry Leis and Mary Lou Lemieux).  Gerry and Mary Lou shared great memories with us and helped us understand what it was like to grow up on Glen Farm.  The stories of the Glen Farm workers are our stories, just as much as the stories of Mrs. Nicholson are our stories.

Camara cousins are gathering their memories.  One of them mentioned  the painting in Mrs. Nicholson’s bedroom.  It was a representation of what she would see off shore in her sailboat.  Mrs. Nicholson loved to sail.

Glen Manor bedroom

Image from 1995



Vintage Image from around 1926



Portsmouth’s Own Glen Farm: The Stone Stables and Percheron Horses

Posted August 16, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized

H.A.C. Taylor moved to breeding Percheron horses instead of Clydesdales in July of 1922. He imported from France a stallion named Tartare and two mares, Tapette and Ure.  An article on Glen Farm from the 1920’s describes their foals as “thrifty” and “growing rapidly”.  The stone stable looks almost as good inside today as it did in 1925.

Portsmouth’s Own Glen Farm: Clydesdales

Posted August 11, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, The Glen

Glen Farm was famous enough in its day to warrant some articles in agricultural journals.  An article in “The Field Illustrated:  A Journal of Advanced Agriculture” in 1915 provided an account of how Glen Farm was breeding Clydesdales horses.  The writer touted Glen farm as “an illuminating example of what may be accomplished by skillful use of rare opportunity, by careful breeding and by wise use of money in buying good foundation stock.”

There were twenty-five registered animals, two stallions, ten mares, and thirteen colts and yearlings in 1915.  The stallions and mares were personally selected in Scotland by William Barclay who had been the manager of Glen Farm.  Apparently he was able to import Prince Cilia (a stallion with a fine reputation) and this gave Glen Farm a great start in their breeding program.

Portsmouth’s Own Glen Farm: Award Winning Guernseys

Posted August 4, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, The Glen

Around 1889 H.A.C. Taylor began breeding Guernseys at Glen Farm.  Taylor wanted to create an ideal farm, and he also wanted to establish a herd of award winning Guernsey cows  Taylor’s manager very carefully selected twenty cows and a bull in the Island of Guernsey.  The wooden cow barn was probably the first barn put up by Taylor on Glen Farm. There were two barns on the property when Taylor bought Glen Farm, but it is unlikely that the previous owner would have such a grand barn.   It seemed to set the style for the other barns in the complex with the iconic Glen Farm cupolas on the roof.

The Glen Farm herd won many awards at national dairy shows and state expositions for butter fat content of milk and as breeders. Taylor’s horses, cows and sheep competed with animals from the farms of other wealthy “gentleman farmers” such as Alfred Vanderbilt and his Oakland Farm across East Main Road. Winning championships was a matter of pride.

When “Missy of the Glen” set a record as a butterfat producer, another “gentleman farmer” from the Boston area protested and claimed there had been irregularities in the testing. The records books were going to list “Dolly Dimple” as the champion butterfat producer. Now H.A.C. Taylor had two good reasons for defending the record of his Guernsey. He was protecting the honor of his workers (who had been accused of cheating) and his cattle would claim their “true value” as champions when he sold Missy’s calves.

Taylor sued the President of the American Guernsey Cattle Club, the publisher of the official register. The suit made its way from one court to another higher court until it finally ended up with the U.S. Supreme Court! Missy was under the observation of the Rhode Island Experiment Station (URI today) for an entire year. This independent monitor found that she was indeed the world champion Guernsey cow!

H.A.C.’s grandson commented that although Taylor received a verdict of $10,000 in damages, the suit cost him $25,000 to win the case. It was worth it to Taylor. He upheld the honesty of his workers and ensured a good price for Missy’s calves.

Glen Farm is part of Portsmouth’s history that we can see.

Missy of the Glen



National Magazine, Vol.35, Bostonian Publishing Company,1911

Luck of the Game: A story of reginald B. Taylor By Cy Kritzer. Artcraft Printers, Buffalo NY 1973 NY Times – December 20, 1910

“Campion Cow Vindicated” read the headline of a New York Times article published on December 20, 1910. “ ‘Missy of the Glen’s’ Record Must Be Published in the Official Records” the subheading goes on.

Portsmouth’s Own Glen Farm: Beginnings

Posted August 1, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, The Glen

Part of the Barn Complex and Glen Farm

In 1989 the people of Portsmouth made a bold move.  They voted to purchase the Glen Farm barns complex and what is now the Gardner Seveny Sports Fields.  Together with the 1973 purchase of previous Glen Farm land around the Glen Manor House and Glen Park area, this gave the town a remarkable piece of open space for recreation.  It also gave the town a special piece of Portsmouth history to enjoy and to preserve.

What were the beginnings of Henry Augustus Colt -“H.A.C.”  Taylor’s famous Glen Farm?  Taylor was one of the wealthy bankers and railroad owners who came to summer in Newport.  The Vanderbilts and others had their Portsmouth farms, but Taylor was sincerely interested in breeding the best animals.  On September 28, 1882 Halsey P. Coon sold his “Glen Farm” to H.A.C. Taylor. The land evidence records note that it was a parcel of land with “two dwelling houses, a grist mill, two barns, two cribs and other out buildings” The tract of land was about 111 acres of land. The “Glen” is a traditional name for the area and Taylor continued to call it “Glen Farm.”  In the hands of the Taylor family, the farm grew in value, prestige and land area.

1885 Map of Taylor’s first purchase and the farms he eventually purchased

In colonial times this land was in the Thomas Cook family.  As the Cook family dispersed, the large tract of their land from the Sakonnet River to East Main Road and from Glen Road to Sandy Point Road, was distributed between many families.  What H.A.C. Taylor did in his land purchases, was to make a large gentleman’s farm from all the smaller farms in the area.  The Taylors would go on to buy the farms or house lots of Howard Smith, Harriet Smyth, Frank Smith, Wm. Ware, Mary B. Field, Frederick Field, Charles Slocum, the Cundall family, Leonard Brown, William Coggeshall, William Chase, William Sisson and the Durfee Tea House lot.  H.A.C Taylor’s son Moses and daughter-in-law Edith Bishop Taylor would continue to grow the property until it was 1500 acres.

Cook Family Lands

After H.A.C. Taylor’s daughter-in-law Edith Taylor Nicholson died in 1959 the property was again broken up and sold. Much of the land is in housing developments. Other pieces are planted with nursery stock but the Glen brook area itself remains in private hands.  Thankfully the people of Portsmouth are the owners of two very special pieces of Glen Farm.


Hurricane Stories: Glen Farm Bull

Posted July 30, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Glen Farm, The Glen

“A storm oddity was a Glen Farm truck carrying a prize bull which had to be abandoned. When workmen went back later, they found the truck had disappeared, but the bull had rescued itself by swimming and was on high land nearby.

Newport Mercury, Sept 30, 1938

Glen Farm Bull

This isn’t the rescued bull, but it is a Glen Farm Bull.

The Demise of Two Glen Barns

Posted July 28, 2018 by portsmouthhistorynotes
Categories: Uncategorized

My husband and I went to Glen Farm to do some photography.  While we were there we witnessed bulldozers tearing down two of the old wooden barns – the Tool House and the Wagon Shed. They date from around 1907.  Hopefully the other barns will be preserved. These two old structures fell into disrepair until they were hazards.  Farm buildings and agricultural landscapes are important to maintaining some of our farming heritage.