Mahwah Farms – A Landmark of Yesteryear

This unattributed article was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in December 1979.

Mahwah Farms, once the largest cattle breeding and distribution dairy farm in Bergen County from the mid-twenties to 1944, was located along the southbound lane of Route 17 (now the site of Robbie’s Music Barn).

The late Albert J. (Allie) Winter built the first barn back in 1909. He expanded the dairy farm over a span of many years and won first prizes with his registered cattle at the Trenton State Fair.

Milk was delivered from the Oakland line to Route 202 up to Hillburn, N.Y. and Sloatsburg, N.Y., (including Suffern), throughout Mahwah and Airmont, Ramsey, Allendale and Saddle River. Mahwah Dairy was known in the area for its high quality of raw and pasteurized milk.

The late Charles Suffern, who worked for “Allie”, was the father of the late William Suffern who worked for the Mahwah Road Department. Charlie and his family came off the ridge (area beyond the high school on Ridge Rd. in 1909). Others who worked on the farm included Harold Ackerson and the late Dorrie DeGroat and Ralph Osborne.

In the early days, there were two entrances to the dairy. One was over a dirt lane from Island Rd. that came directly to the northwest end of the barns, and the other was through Moffatt Rd. off Island Rd.

Mr. Winter had three teams of horses that he housed in the barns located on North Railroad Ave. (now the site of the Department of Public Works). He planted his own corn and reaped his own hay from fields located north of the barns and the east side of Island Rd.

After Mr. Winter’s death on March 26, 1944, the dairy was operated for about six months under the supervision of his wife, Annie Winter, who sold it to Mr. Fremont Lovett, president of Orange & Rockland Utilities. Mr. Lovett was killed in an airplane accident, and his sons operated the dairy for a short time.

On July 22, 1946, everything, including the purebred cattle and equipment, was sold at auction. The dairy route was sold to Rockland Milk and Cream and the property to Mr. Fred Wehran, owner of Sun Valley Farm in Mahwah.

For several years after that, the late Martin Cook rented the barns and kept his herd of milk cows in the main barn. They grazed in his fields off Island Rd., now the industrial park area. Mr. Cook and his family lived in the house (once a stage coach stop) now the site of Burger King on Route 17.

9 Comments On “Mahwah Farms – A Landmark of Yesteryear”

  1. Trying to locate a farm in the 40’s/50’s called Mahrape Farms in Mahwah and it was owned by someone named Birch? My father used to work there. He is gone now so we cannot get answers to some questions we have. Any knowledge of the farm?

    Thank you kindly.

  2. Hi Sandra,

    Sorry for the delay in responding== The farm was called Mahrapo, and was owned by Steven Birch. We do have some material on it — drop me an e-mail at archves@mahwahmuseum.org and let me know what you are interested in finding.

    Cathy

  3. David P. Schilstra

    I grew up on Mahrapo Farm, please contact me for any information.3

  4. Donna Sparkman Hamshar

    I lived on Marapo farms as did David Schilstra. I grew up in the Hopper Van Horn house. Please contact me for any information you need.

    • Hello Donna. We went to Commodore Perry together. My name is Bob Adler. I still live in Mahwah and work at the museum as a trustee.

      • Donna Sparkman Hamshar

        Hello, Robert! How often I remember growing up in Mahwah. I have wanted to write some of the memories I have of living on Marahpo Farm, and sending them to the museum. David and I are of the last generation that lived there. After us, no one will know of the intimate goings on there, or of the Birch family. I knew that there was a slave cemetery near the Hopper cemetery. I think all of us knew. It is unfortunate that the professor who “discovered” the cemetery did not try to locate anyone who might have knowledge of potential historical areas on the farm. Please contact me by email, if you have access to it. I would enjoy knowing how life is in Mahwah, now. Also if you would like some stories of life on the farm.

        • Michelle Constantine Buchholz

          Hi Donna! I think of you every time I visit relatives back in Mahwah and drive past your house! Where do you live now? I live in California, northeast of San Francisco. I don’t know how many times I’ve driven part your house and told people my friend in grammar school used too live there:) Michelle

          • Donna Sparkman Hamshar

            Hey there, girl! I am in Oklahoma. I have lived in 17 different places since leaving Mahwah, from Connecticut to Virginia to Seattle on to Alaska and places in between. I often think of Mahwah and friends there. I haven’t been back since 1970.
            Have the fires impacted you? The devastation is unimaginable.
            donnashamshar@gmail.com

  5. Does anyone remember the John Mazurek farm in Ramsey NJ ?
    my grandmother’s brother— he had apple orchards, a real wishing well, lots of farm animals. Last time we visited there was 1958.

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