By Mary Lou Montgomery
Retired editor, Hannibal Courier-Post
The hills and valleys of the old Hatch farm in Oakwood, its creeks and wooded acres served as a childhood playground for life-long Hannibalian Bob Yount, who read a Courier-Post story on the history of the farm earlier this week and felt compelled to share his memories.
Bob, who retired from the BN railroad when floodwaters submerged the West Quincy yards back in 1993, grew up playing in the hay barns, wading in Minnow Creek and drinking ice cold milk from a dipper while his father was employed at the dairy farm from 1931 until 1941. The Hatch Dairy Experiment Station operated on the site from the late 1920s until the early 1960s.
The Younts lived in a small house on Westover Road, located on the north side of the 90-degree turn which now exists near the road's intersection with U.S. 61. Two other families made their homes on the farm: the Ralph Livingston family lived upstairs and the C.W. McIntyre family lived downstairs in the old Hatch house, which was occupied by U.S. Rep. William Henry Hatch until his death in 1896.
The 116-acre farm was bequeathed to the State of Missouri in 1923 by Hatch 's daughter, Sara Rhodes Hatch .
"They milked cows three times a day," Bob remembers, "5 a.m., 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Dad (Paul Yount) was a hired hand for the state.
They went to work at 5 a.m., came home for breakfast, went back at 9 and worked 'till 12; had lunch; went back and milked from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; then off till 9 o'clock at night, and worked from 9 to 12."
Bob's dad got one day off a month, and they spent this day traveling to Philadelphia, Mo., where Bob's mother grew up.
"They always had a young man from the University of Missouri working (at the farm); he's the one that washed the cows before they milked them. The cows got a bath before they were milked, every time. They brought the cows out of the big barn into the washing stalls, then washed them, then cows came into milking parlor; three people could be milking at the same time. The cows were on a platform so the men could stand up and milk them. They had little half pint bottles, they checked the butter fat and so forth, and cooled that milk down to 38 degrees. It was cold milk and it was good. Then it would go into 10 gallon cans and put in a water cooler. Once a day then took the milk to Midland Dairy."
When Bob was growing up, the two-lane U.S. 61 divided the farm, with the houses and barns on the west side of the road, and pasture on the east side, where the Missouri Visitors Center is now located.
There was a tunnel going under the highway, Bob said, so the cattle could get to the other side to graze.
"There was a cattle guard at the farm's entrance (where you turn to go into the state highway office today) so the cows wouldn't get out on the highway. You didn't have to open the gate to get in," Bob said. "You'd have to be from a farm to know what a cattle guard is."
Bob and his older brother spent their idle hours playing with the McIntyre kids, including David McIntyre, who is deceased, John, who lives in Las Vegas, and Nancy, of Jefferson City.
Their father was the farm manager.
"We used to play in the hay barns and play in the hay. I can remember exactly how it all laid out. One, two, three, four more buildings to the farm. There was the mule barn and the machine shed. There was a pony that was mean, and two mules. They kept the pony in there with the mules and he had to fend for himself.
There was the bull house, where they kept three or four bulls, and they were always mean bulls. Jersey bulls, really mean.
"West of the calf barn, they put the young calves, across from it was the hay barn."
The barns were two-story structures with lofts. Bob remembers oak hard wood floors in the lofts, where the kids loved to slide.
The old Hatch house had a great big living room, Bob said. "That was our playroom. It had a great big porch that faced south.
There was an office on the north end of the house for Mr. McIntyre. John (Mc-Intyre) and I were the same age, but (the McIntyre kids) went to Mark Twain School. I walked (across the highway) to Tilden school until fifth grade. You wouldn't think of letting a first-grader walk that far nowadays."
Good pay for a hard day's work
"Dad made good money," Bob remembers. "I don't know what he was making when the Depression started, but we got our house, utilities and all the milk we wanted to drink" plus a salary of $60 per month. "I drank milk like water. I remember that real well."
As part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) program during the late 1930s, workers made an addition to the little house where the Younts lived. Included in the addition were a kitchen and an indoor bathroom.
"While we lived there, they had men out there with the WPA clearing brush.
One spring, I found big sacks of mushrooms" in the woods, and brought them home. "I got in trouble and had to take them back," Bob said. They belonged to the WPA workers.
The family left the farm in 1941, when Bob's father found other employment.
Caption: Bob Yount of Hannibal contributed this 1933 photo of the milk room and barn at the Hatch Dairy Experiment Station, which was located in Oakwood on the current site of the Missouri Department of Transportation's district headquarters. Yount, who spent his first 10 years living on the farm, said they brought the cows out of the barn, into a washing area attached to the barn, moved them to the milking station, which was in the middle of the building in the front of this photo. At left is where they processed the milk. Bob's mother, Clarice Layton Yount, had this photo in her scrapbook. CONTRIBUTED Bob Yount of Hannibal lived in this small house on the Hatch farm from 1931 until 1941. He said the WPA built on to the house in 1937 or 1938, adding a kitchen and a bathroom. The house has been torn down. CONTRIBUTED