This content was written by Marjorie Albee, Essex Resident and daughter-in-law of Harry Albee (circa 1950s).
Take one lumberman from the state of Maine — one hundred white-faced Beef Cows bred in Texas, set them down together on an Adirondack Mountain farm and you are bound to find pioneering spirit somewhere in the lot.
Harry Albee moved from Maine when Harvard University hired him as a timber cruiser to estimate the value of their lumber holdings. That job gave him the reputation of being a top-notch woodsman. He was hired by most of the big lumber companies in the East. He cruised woodlands all through the U.S….Spent years in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia. Inevitably he wound up on a job in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains. And since that time, he has called the Adirondacks home.
At first, he spent all of his time in the woods…scaling logs, estimating timber lots, [and] building saw mills. One of his employers cleared part of his land and started to farm a little. Overseeing the farm was just another of Albee’s many jobs. But soon he was spending more and more time there. The owner bought a herd of purebred Ayrshires and Harry Albee found he had a way with cattle. Old time show ring men still recognize him as a great Ayrshire showman and his collection of blue ribbons and loving cops bear them out.
As the big timber disappeared from the Adirondacks and the State bought up more land for the Adirondack Preserve, prohibiting the cutting of timber there, Albee became less and less and woodsman and more and more a farmer.
The big farm, lying along Lake Champlain just south of Essex, New York, became a show-place and well known all over the country as an outstanding Ayrshire breeding establishment. At the height of prosperity, the owner died. The cattle and farm equipment were sold. And the heirs were ready to sell the big farm.
Harry Albee knew that would undoubtedly mean he would have to move, and he liked the place too much for that—so he bought it.
Then the big problem was what to do with the place. He might have restocked the place with dairy cattle if fire hadn’t leveled the barn.
Albee went to see Ray Bender, the Farm Bureau Agent. He wanted to farm without depending so much on hired labor. Without so many cultivated crops and less outlay for feed grains.
The answer was clear to the two men—it had to be beef cattle. They started to look for foundation stock…about one hundred head of beef cows. The highly bred stock offered here in the East seemed too expensive for what Albee had in mind. He sent to Texas for a bunch of heifers on the feeder order. They were young, and they were cheap and they were hardy. And with the aid of good bulls, the stock would improve each year.
So Harry Albee, the down-East Woodsman became a rancher in the Adirondack Mountains. With the aid of one man he cares for all the cattle—and finds time to serve as Supervisor—Farm Bureau Executive Committeeman, Chairman of the County Fair Board and in numerous other public offices.
The cattle get nothing but pasture in the summer…and hay in the winter. There are no elaborate barns, merely open shed, weather tight on three sides. Some the of the cows and heifers are sold for breeding stock, and the steers and sold for meat at 6 to 18 months depending on their condition and market prices.
Harry Albee doesn’t think of himself as an Agricultural Pioneer. To him, bringing Texas cattle into Essex County was only a means for him to spend more happy years in the country he loves.
See the original document below:
- Prize-Winning Ayrshire Paintings Restored (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)