Lyon Hill Farm

When they came home from their honeymoon, Frances and Leon moved in with his parents at Lyon Hill Farm, in South Sanford, four miles from Sanford (on what is now Airport Road). Soon Leon’s parents, Eugene and Mary, would move to their other farm in Somersworth, New Hampshire, just 20 miles south of Lyon Hill.

Lyon Hill Farm c. 1900; Eugene, Mary, Leon, Ray

Lyon (or Lion or Lion’s) Hill Farm had once been a complex of connected barns and houses. Now, only the central  farmhouse remained, with a new barn nearby. The house had one story, with a big attic for sleeping and storage, a large kitchen with windows and doors, a big kitchen table with oak wooden chairs that were sturdy and strong enough to last for decades.

Lyon Hill Farm 1918

Frances liked in particular the front door, with window panes on each side of it; the huge slab of stone to step on before entering the house; and the towering Maple trees nearby, which they tapped in the spring and hung a hammock between in the summer. The driveway was a convenient oval, so they could drive in one way and out the other.

Frances and Leon with friends at (Lyon or Lion's) Hill farm

They entered the farmhouse through a small hallway, Fran recalled. “Turning left we opened a door into a big parlor and off the parlor a guest bedroom. Back in the hallway, you turned right and opened a door into a combination living room and dining room. Not far from the hall door was the attic door. Then came the Franklin Stove. Then, a door led into a big bedroom with a fireplace. On the same side, another bedroom. Then came the door that led into the large, friendly kitchen where we usually ate. There were two outside doors from the kitchen and four windows. The kitchen, pantry, and washroom were added to the original house long before we came there to live. It was a cozy home.

“There was a cellar door and we always kept a big salt fish hanging on the left side in the cellar way. Anyone that felt hungry could tear a piece off. Downstairs we had a big potato bin, also shelves for my canned vegetables and fruit. We used to gather herbs and hang them to dry in the attic. I had a large closet off from the kitchen where I kept my barrel of flour and corn meal and crackers. My father used to bring us crackers from Hanover, NH on their way back from visiting with his two sisters and their husbands at Croyden, NH. We could not get that kind of cracker in Maine; they were round, not salty. We used to split them, wet them, and sprinkle with salt or sugar for a snack. Then they were always ready for our bowl of crackers and milk.”

1900 Wood Stove

Behind the old black stove was a huge wood box. A copper tank held the “hot box” where the fire was made. The heat circulated around the stove – called “the crown” —  and heated the oven. The kind of wood determined the heat of the oven – dry wood for biscuits (for biscuits and syrup); dry and green wood for cakes and pies. Frances “could tell by the feel of the oven if it was the right temperature.” She cooked pies – fruit and meat — for breakfast and lunch, which were the biggest meals; supper was lighter before they went to bed.

Although she had grown up with “every convenience,” Fran coped well with have “nothing” in the way of conveniences. She lugged heavy pails of water from the well to heat on the stove; boiled the laundry; wrung it through the wringer; hung it out to dry; brought it in to iron and fold and put away.

She and Leon were “equal to each other” as they handled chores. They had a “barn full of cows” and a milking machine. As Frances said, “Cows have to be milked morning and night everyday.” She and Leon were up at 4 a.m. and by 9 p.m. Frances was at the sink washing the milk pails. “Anyone that knows about a farm knows that the work is never done, from morning to night. The man of the house has to be out so early milking and doing chores that the woman of the house has to be up equally as early so as to prepare a big breakfast for her hungry man. Always, three big meals were required and a snack before going to bed — sometimes rosy apples that were in a wooden bowl in the center of the table and sometimes popcorn.”

Leon working at a saw mill

Their workhorse was named Don — a beautiful chestnut bay. Leon and Frances bought him from Grafton in Sanford. Kind and gentle, he pulled the big sled of cordwood from the woods after Leon cut the trees with the help of Earl Tripp, who helped around the farm. “Leon was an expert wood chopper,” Frances said. “He was very particular about his ax handle,” made specifically for him by their neighbor Ed. Then they measured the wood and delivered it to clients in Sanford. “When he came home and had taken care of the horse, Leon was ready for a hot, hearty supper,” Frances recalled.

When she wasn’t cooking, cleaning, or helping with chores outdoors, Frances mended. “My mending basket was always handy so when I sat down I could darn or mend up the unwanted hole. For want of time I had to give up my embroidery work for the necessary darning of socks. It takes skill to weave in and out until the hole is filled and it stays smooth so as not to blister your heel or toe. Quite an art.”

Fran's students at Hawthorne School

During her first year of marriage, Frances continued to teach. As Leon went off to work in the fields or woods, Frances would bicycle to school. In 1914 she was one of the first married women to be allowed to teach at the Hawthorne School in South Sanford. She followed the lessons in the McGuffey Readers, which emphasized a moral and spiritual education.

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3 Responses to Lyon Hill Farm

  1. Bill Klingensmith says:

    Hi :),
    My name is Bill….I grew up at 58 Old Airport Road. If the is the same place that I am reading about, as I was a small boy, Germaine Belodeau and her husband lived on the property. I grew up next to “Allen” cemetery. My folks, other than meme and pepe Belodeau owned the largest parcel. Was the Lyon Hill farm all of this area? My folks house was built in 1869, and had a chicken coop. I am having a difficult time finding who had built this house my folks live in. I have a feeling you might know a tid bit to lead me in the right direction. And buy the way, this story and history is excellent reading. I am finding much information that is helpful.

    • Beth Taylor says:

      Hi Bill. Yes, Lyon Hill Farm is on the old airport road. It sounds as if your folks are neighbors. How cool is that 😊. We got help from the Springvale-Sanford Historical Society. And the town hall in Sanford has maps of properties to show ownership over time. Hope this helps! Best wishes, Beth

      • Bill Klingensmith says:

        Hi Beth,
        Yes that makes us neighbors. I have been speaking to a local historian and I have had much help…I am currently digging and many are curious of who actually built the Allen cemetery. Many things don’t add up so detective mode has been on for a couple of weeks..lol. I found that Hector Dubios’s father had owned some of the land and I am trying to find out how he acquired it..thanks for replying and have fun..
        Bill

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