When I was a small child, my grandfather, Fred Freeman, had
a small milk route in Edwards village, and supplied bottled
milk to Frandy Dulack, who had a meat market where the diner
is now. I rode with Grandpa on the milk wagon one day when he
delivered the milk on Island Steet before climbing Eastman Hill.
There may have been other customers, but those few houses are
the only ones I remember. He had a wooden box in the front of
the milk wagon with an assortment of milk pails, one or two
quart in size, made of gray enamel, or blue and white enamel.
The customers had matching sets of these which were on a telephone
pole at one house, to be replaced with a full pail, or at the
next place it was a box on a post which held the pail, and so
on for the other customers. He knew each one's pail; it was
a very personal service, but he didn't have to disembark from
the wagon; he simply pulled up to the waiting empty pail. He
sold tickets that said "One quart - F. B. Freeman".
They were stamp size of light blue cardboard so that customers
didn't have to leave change. The bottled milk was delivered
in orange crates with newspapers between the bottles. Grandma
filled the bottles with a pitcher and slipped the caps on by
In the mid-twenties, my father, Oswald Freeman, bought a
milk route from George Soper. At first it was a very small operation;
our dairy supplied the milk, Mother washed the bottles at the
kitchen sink, boiled them in the washboiler on the kitchen stove,
fished them out of the boiling water with an S-shaped heavy
copper wire, filled them with a pitcher, and capped them by
hand. Trixie, our gray horse, pulled the milk wagon in summer
and the sleigh in winter for delivery. My mother told of their
great disappointment on the first day of business when they
had 100 quarts of milk packed in orange crates, and sold only
Gradually the business grew to include the mines- there were
families "on the hill" and "by the creek",
as well as beyond the cave-in. The Inn was still operating in
the twenties, and the company houses for management were all
full. In the summer there was a route to Trout lake, supplying
fresh vegetables, fruit, and eggs as well as milk and cream.
Wanakena Ranger School phoned in their orders, and picked them
up once or twice each week.
By that time there was a bottler of sorts set up on the back
porch. It was a square vat with four little openings on the
front side. Four levers opened the taps, and I placed four bottles
under the taps, pulled down the levers until the bottles were
full, capped them and set up four more bottles. It worked fairly
well on quarts, but the pints had to be lined up precisely.
It was a rather crude arrangement, but an improvement over the
two-quart pitcher. The drawback was that the back porch was
frigid in winter, in spite of the heavy canvas covering the
Soon our '24 Chevy touring car was converted to a small delivery
truck, and then bigger changes were demanded. The state mandated
a steam boiler for proper sterilization. Obviously, the kitchen
and back porch were outdated, and, about 1926-27, my father
contracted with Elmer Payne to build a new milkhouse, grander
than any other milkhouse in Edwards. The ground floor had a
boiler room, and a bottling room with a walk-in cooler and cream
separator. The new bottler had angle iron guides for the milk
crates, and a crate full of empties was filled with three operations.
A hand-operated capper meant that we no longer touched the caps
by hand. It was a big improvement, but it was still a cold job
on a winter morning. The second floor of the building had room
for a truck, car, and other storage. The milk was upgraded to
Grade A. By that time we were buying milk from other farmers
to supply the extended route. High school boys worked part time
washing bottles and doing other chores. Two of them remembered
were Wells Patterson and Carlton Burnett.
In 1929 my father became ill. His uncle, Arthur Freeman,
filled in for several months, and after struggling for more
than a year to keep the business, my father sold both farm and
business to E. J. Williams in November 1930.
In 1940 Williams was ready to sell it back. His wife had
died, his boys were in the service or moved away, and help was
hard to get. While he was there, the village water line had
been extended to the farm so the well and the big spring in
the meadow were no longer vital. In 1937 the state had demanded
pasteurization, and the pasteurizer was added to the equipment.
There was some grumbling among the customers who didn't like
the taste of pasteurized milk, but except for the ones who bought
milk directly from farmers, they all soon became accustomed
to the change.
And so, in 1940, the Freemans were back at Sunnyside. The
next few years were a time of expansion as routes were added.
In 1941 the Hermon route was purchased from Leonard Ells, and
later DeGrasse and Russell were added, purchased from a man
named Backus. Then Star Lake, Fine, Oswegatchie, and Wanakena
were added from Guy Wood. Still later, the Hockey route in Gouverneur
was acquired. Sometime along the line, Balmat was added. Improvements
were made in the plant also. In 1941 a new walk-in cooler was
built. In 1942 a new automatic bottle washer was installed,
and in 1943, a dump station, can washer, and cottage cheese
vat were installed on the second floor.
ca.1926 milk plant being refurbished in 1948
During these war years help was scarce, and for a time a
conscientious objector from Illinois worked in the plant. My
younger brother, Lellan, worked before and after school - and
missed school on numerous occasions. By the end of the war,
my father was unable to take care of the business and farm,
and after selling the cattle and farm machinery, sold the business
to Randall and Boni. They used the same buildings and equipment
for a year or so, before building the dairy processing plant
on Trout Lake Street, beyond the schoolhouse.
Some of the farmers who supplied milk were Charlie Cooper,
Harrison Lumley, Bob McFerran, Ralph Perry, Willis Soper, Ralph
Ingraham, Wally Poole, Bill Patterson, and Tom Brayton (who
lived in the brick house).
Some of the people (not already mentioned), who worked in
the plant, were Harrison Lumley, Mohan Porter, Pierce Evans,
Keith Hickok, Wayne Fuller, and Earl Noble.