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L. B. DeForest (1850-1914)

Registration Sheet October 1989
Revised May 1996


In the rural 1900's, arduous roads made it imperative for every village cluster to have its own general store, blacksmith, carpenter, stonemason … and butcher.

Country butchers tended to be small, farm-oriented slaughterhouses with limited variety. Long Ridge Village, in northern Stamford, Conn., had several over the years, typified in the 1870's by E. B. Hoit at his family's farm off Erskine Road.

Around 1882 Hoit was joined by LeRoy Barlow DeForest, a 32-year old butcher from Westchester. Their alliance may have begun earlier; a route book for Greenwich signed in L. B. DeForest's elegant script was dated Dec 2, 1879.

While working together, each man girded for monumental personal decisions. The big year came in 1885:

L. B. DeForest bought Hoit's Long Ridge business, married Hoit's sister Mary, and purchased the farm and house of Thomas LeVere south of the "East Road" (now Rockrimmon) near Long Ridge Rd. The Stamford Advocate reported Oct. 9, 1885: "He intends to erect a large building on the premises, to be used to slaughter his cattle in, and will also fit up a portion of it as a meat market. He will also erect a large ice house on the premises."

E. B. Hoit, now free to concentrate on a business he had founded about 1880 down in the center of the borough, took permanent residence on Summer St. The business, destined to become a Stamford landmark, was listed in the 1883-4 City Directory as "Hoit, Edward B., proprietor Grand Central Market," at 124 Main Street.

DeForest's up-country meat business flourished. He established wagon routes over all of northern Stamford, extending into Pound Ridge, Bedford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Banksville, with a few customers even in Stamford center. In all kinds of weather his little duck-covered wagon picked its way over rutted, rocky roads right on schedule. In the mid 90's it went to Bedford and Pound Ridge on Mondays. On Tuesdays it would start down (Old) Long Ridge Road, then swing west (over Erskine?) to the Farms area and Riverbank, then south to Roxbury and Bangall returning home (over Den Road?) in late afternoon with a very tired horse.

On Saturdays the wagon went down Long Ridge to Lockwood's Corner at Hunting Ridge Road, then bumped eastward perhaps over Chestnut Hill Road to Scofieldtown and on to High Ridge. On one or two other days, trips were made to Greenwich.

  • In addition to local residents, primarily farmers and tradesmen, DeForest's customers included the estates of wealthy families. (The wagon carried lots of steak.) As the business grew it picked up good institutional customers including:
  • The Town of Stamford. (The Town Farm and Almshouse or Poorhouse)
  • The Stamford Tuberculosis Pavilion
  • Boy Scout Camp at Winnituyk House Farm (1920-21)
  • Stamford Trade School (1923)
  • Sisters of Annunciation Episcopal home for crippled and incurable children in the Farms area. ($40 to $80 per month in 1908, very prompt pay.)
  • Bailey's Hotel

A "Rock Rimmon Farm" was mentioned in one sale dated August 23, 1915, nine years before Rockrimmon Road was officially named. There were several sales to "Western Youmans." Not a maker of something like saddles or jeans, this was clarified (?) in later pages as "Western Youman Telegraph Co."

DeForest expanded to a full line of meats and poultry. Here are some early prices noting a surprising jump from 1889 to 1891:

Meats 1889 1891 Meats 1889 1891
Beef 14-18c 23c Chops 16c 25c
Steak 18c   Liver   20c
Pork 12-14c   Sweetbreads   40c
Ham 14-15c 20c Bacon 16c 16c
Lamb   20c Turkey 22c 28c

At this time, a bag of flour was $1.10, eggs $.25/doz., lamp chimneys $.08, and your choice of a tooth brush or a buggy whip $.20. The price for transporting a horse an the Steamer "Shady Side" from New York to DeForest was $2.00. Long Ridge blacksmith Sylvester Lockwood charged L.B. $1.25 for shoeing a horse, F. L. Brinkerhoff, feed dealer, charged him $.65/100 lb. for 7910 lbs. of hay, and, oh yes, paregoric was $.08/ounce.

The following picture of the business is condensed from a manuscript Once on a Long, Long Ridge by L.B.'s grandson, John L. "Jack" DeForest:

The market and slaughterhouse were set back from the road. There were numerous facilities on the property including a furnace house, smoke house, ice house, many gardens and one of the first artesian wells.

The market [building] looked like an ordinary barn. To the right of the entrance was the slaughterhouse in which a great wooden wheel 10 ft. in diameter was used for hoisting carcasses in the meat cutting process. The floor had a slight pitch to the rear with a drain for carrying off the blood. In the slaughterhouse big sides of beef, etc. were slung on a hook that dangled from a roller which traveled on a track over to the ice box across the hallway. A bench inside the ice box was piled higher and higher each day as orders that had been taken the week before were made ready for delivery the following day.

The market itself was a busy place with its customer traffic and butchers working to fill both walk-in and wagon orders. Big chopping blocks made from the trunks of trees each stood solidly on three legs. The floor was strewn with sawdust.

The LeVere house on the west side of the complex was considerably enlarged at the rear to make room for DeForest's growing family, and for his office which was given a separate entrance. Jack remembers LeRoy's big rolltop desk, undoubtedly the desk he bought on Jan. 30, 1886 from Brady & Chadeayne of 22 Atlantic St. for $23.00. In 1989 it was still in use by Ralph DeForest on Rockrimmon Road.

L. B. DeForest apparently raised little of his own livestock. Local farmers were a prime source, principally for calves, pigs and lambs which he bought on the hoof. For sides of beef, pork, hams, sheep and specialty items he relied on wholesalers in Stamford and Norwalk. Among them in 1887 were Griffin & McElroy, South Norwalk Beef Co., S. E. Merrin & Son, and downtown Stamford's Wm. A. Weed and Co. By 1904 he was using Armour and Swift. Typical beef orders ran $80.00 to $100.00.

Poultry was a major business. DeForest raised some chickens but bought heavily from local growers. Certain days were devoted to chickens. After decapitation they were dipped in a vat of boiling water for easy plucking. The cauldron was a stove built especially for the purpose in the furnace house.

Bartering with local farmers was commonplace. One J.B.Strang, a farmer on Webb's Hill, ran up a huge bill of $106.43 for meats bought from DeForest's wagon between July 13, 1888 and August 29, 1889. But in May 1889, Strang began delivery of 17 calves to the slaughterhouse...2709 lbs. at $.06 per pound. In the end, DeForest owed Strang $56.11.

One day an eccentric lady on Mill Road wheedled the driver into trading a dozen of her eggs for a cut of meat. The peddler sold the eggs down the road, only to face a very irate customer a week later. The eggs rotten? No. They had been sucked dry by that sly lady, who even hid pebbles in the carton to give it the right heft!

Ice, of course, was essential to L. B.'s business. The LeVere farm purchase included an excellent site for an ice pond. This pond and its dam is located east of where the market stood, and is visible south of Rockrimmon between today's Winslow Drive and Pond View Lane. The ice house at the edge of the water was later turned into a studio and now is a private home. DeForest apparently enlisted local farmers for his ice-cutting crew, and also contracted to cut ice for other pond owners.

For the needs of both family and business, DeForest acquired a fleet of carriages, delivery wagons, a delivery sleigh for winter, heavy wagons and other farm equipment, with of course a substantial number of horses to serve them. Surviving check books and invoices show blacksmiths to be a major cost, what with all the horse shoeing, repairs for wagons, wheels and harnesses, and specially forged butchers' tools. He spread his business among Sylvester Lockwood, Peter Lauridsen, John C. Wolfel and E. S. Gifford, all of Long Ridge. Jack DeForest also recalls a small blacksmith shop among the buildings in the slaughterhouse complex.

Around 1902 or 1905, Mr. DeForest ordered a butcher's wagon built right in Long Ridge. A beautiful thing, it was light for the horse, comfortably sprung for the driver, yet built strong for rutty, stony country roads. Its clean white duck top, stretched neatly over a bow and slat framework, sported a large bull's head painted by one of DeForest's sons, John J. It was fitted with hooks, racks, and scales, and probably carried a small chopping block and a bell.

This wagon was replaced by a Model T delivery truck while still in excellent condition. It is now at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The museum lists Peter Lauridsen, blacksmith, and Charles Smith, wheelwright, as its builders.

L. B. DeForest used his prosperity wisely. He invested heavily in Long Ridge land, principally on Rockrimmon Road. He also invested down in the city, including the Park Row building that housed Frank West Hardware. In later years he turned many details over to his sons. When he died in 1914, three of them, LeRoy B., Jr., John J. and Edward B., carried on under the marks "L. B. DeForest's Sons" and "DeForest Brothers, meats & provisions."

On May 19, 1923, the busy driver of the DeForest butcher truck wrote 39 orders on his route, and probably made many more stops that day. But times were changing. As Joyce Pendery wrote: “By 1914 there were fewer farmers in northern Stamford. Farms were becoming estates, developments, or specialized agricultural businesses.”  Most important, Stamford's main north/south roads were paved after World War I, and side roads were improving. As more and more automobiles appeared, door-to-door vending from a wagon became less and less useful to a community.

In 1924 DeForest Brothers closed. The familiar butcher's Model T roamed no more.

Over the years the slaughterhouse/meatmarket building and some smaller buildings were torn down. The big building went when Ralph DeForest planned his house just east of it. The 1870 LeVere house at 1336 Rockrimmon Road, the carriage house, the large original barn and the converted ice house still stand.

Forty-four account books spanning the period from December 1, 1879 to September 8 1923, and a number of old invoices and cancelled checks were preserved in the DeForest family homes which surround the old market site. They were collected by John L. and Ralph DeForest and donated to the Stamford Historical Society on July 8, 1986, more than a century after L. B. DeForest sent his first butcher's wagon out into the early morning mists of Long Ridge Village.


DeForest, John L. Once Upon A Long, Long Ridge. A Memoir of a Connecticut Community. Stamford, CT: Stamford Historical Society. 1995. (Further information received from interviews with Mr. DeForest, May and August, 1989.)

DeForest, L. B., Butcher. Collection of account books, order books, checks and receipts registered herein. At Stamford Historical Society. 1879-1923.

Huntington, E. B. History of Stamford 1641-1868. Reprinted Harrison, NY: Harbor Hill Books. Orig. 1868, reprint 1979.

Majdalany, Jeanne. Early History of Long Ridge Village, 1700-1800. Stamford, Ct.: Stamford Historical Society. 1977.

Pendery, Joyce and Davis, Virginia. Stamford Area History Part I. Reprint from Stamford Architectural Survey. Stamford, CT.: Davis. 1979.

Stamford Advocate. News item October 9, 1885.

Stamford Directories. Editions of 1885-1923. Listings and advertisements. Stamford, CT: Gillespie Bros. 1885-1895; Price & Lee Co. after 1898. Wheeling, Kenneth Edward. Horse-Drawn Vehicles at the Shelburne Museum. Shelburne, Vt.: The Shelburne Museum, Inc. 1974.

List of Records

Box 1
Charge books: Booklets kept by customers for recording purchases and payments on their accounts. Covers printed by vendor.
Date Customer Book Size
Aug. 1889 - December1889 Jean Scott acc't with DeForest. 6 x 3-5/8", manila.
May, 1890 - December 1891 Dainard account 6 x 3-5/8", manila.
May, 1891 - December 1891 James Lounsbury account with DeForest. 6 x 3-5/8", manila.
Undated, ca 1889 L.B.DeForest account with A.W.Searles, a Long Ridge grocer. Among DeForest's purchases are bows, beans, candy raisins, flour, lamp oil, stove polish, and laudamen. Half a yard of elastic cost 3 cents.
August 2, 1915 - June 30, 1916 Town of Stamford purchases. 6-1/8 x 3-5/8", olive.


Deposit Bank Book
Date Bank Book Size
December 10, 1879 - July 27, 1887 Account with First National Bank of Stamford Money was drawn by means of "vouchers." $2,207 balance. 6-1/2x4-1/8"
brown leather.


Stub Check Books of L.B. DeForest business
Date Customer Book Size
January 1887 - November 1887 Bank unknown. Balance over $2000. 3 x 8", black fabric.
January 1890 - November 1893 Ten consecutive books. First National Bank of Stamford. Checks to farmers and wholesalers, blacksmiths, tradesmen, equipment suppliers, etc.
Cancelled Checks
Date Bank
January 9 - November 10, 1904 46 cancelled checks drawn on First National Bank of Stamford.


Invoices from suppliers to L. B. DeForest
Date Customer Amount
9/3/1892 Sylvester Lockwood, blacksmith. Shoeing, meat & ice hooks. $33.30
Undated Steamer "Shady Side." Transport I horse from NYC. $2.00
1/4/1895 Wm. H. Weed & Co. Beef sides, pork, mutton. $55.71
1/5/1895 Sylvester Lockwood, blacksmith. Hooping keg, shoeing. $36.06
1/11/1895 Wm. H. Weed & Co. Sheep, steer, pork, sausage. $178.74
2/23/1895 Excelsior Clothing Co. One suit. $6.00
3/l/1895 Peter Lauridsen, blacksmith. Repair carriage, wagon, shoeing. $12.74
3/8/1895 Begent & Lynch, plumber, tinsmith. Tin sheets. $.32
5/3/1895 C. A. Parker & Co. Grafts for fruit trees.  
5/14/1895 John C. Wolfel, blacksmith. Shoeing & sharpening, 6 months. $30.51
5/22/1895 Getman & Judd. Spruce and pine lumber. $ 21.36
6/8/1895 St. John Wood Working Co. Millwork. $ 2.75
7/1/1895 Peter Lauridsen, blacksmith. Wagon repairs, tires, 2 months. $ 33.18
7/l/1895 F. L. Brinkerhoff, hay & feed. 7910 lbs hay less feed traded. $ 38.43
7/24/1895 Eugene Albin, fish market. Crabs. $1.30
8/21/1895 George A. Ferris, grocer. 58 lbs butter less eggs traded. $4.48
9/l/1895 Peter Lauridsen. Horseshoes and wagon repairs, 2 months. 10. 20
9/4/1895 A. E. Bounty, mason supplies. $5.00
9/4/1895 Henry Lockwood, hardware. Paint, nails, etc. $15.30
10/30/1895 G. R. Faucett, harness. Harness gear, stable sheets. $7.55
11/8/1895 Sylvester Lockwood, blacksmith. Shoeing. $22.88
12/11/1895 C. W. Gilliatt, flour and feed. Oats and corn. Bags extra. $12.06
1/3/1896 Peter Lauridsen. Shoeing. $8.25
1/30/1896 Brady & Chadeayne, furniture. One desk. $3.00
2/26/1896 John C. Wolfel, blacksmith. Rowling iron, shoeing. $7.78
3/3/1896 Peter Lauridsen. Shoeing. $10.36
3/4/1896 E. E. Scofield, flour, grain & feed. Corn, oats, meal. $110.98
5/l/1896 Peter Lauridsen. Wagon repair, shoeing. $26.97
6/6/1896 Wm. M. Terry & Co., wholesaler. Meat, less $9.36 meat traded. $249.76
6/13/1896 Wm. M. Terry & Co., wholesaler. Meat, less $38.35 meat traded. $184.84
7/l/1896 Peter Lauridsen. Repairs, shoeing. $10.35
1/4/1897 Peter Lauridsen. Tools, wagon & harness repairs, shoeing. $33.69


Route Books or Order Books
Earlier books were kept ledger-style, a page for each customer, most of whom were on a charge basis. Later books are taller blank books in which the driver scribbled orders given by customers in the sequence of his route; some contain brief ledgers for charge accounts.
Date Town Book Size
December 1, 1879 - February 1882 Greenwich 7-1/2 x 4-5/8", brown leather.
January 1, 1883 - February 1885 Greenwich 8-1/4 x 5-1/4", brown leather.
January 30, 1882 - August 1884 Long Ridge 7-3/4 x 5-1/4", fine brown leather.
January 1885 - December 1886 Greenwich 8-1/4 x 5-1/4", brown leather.
September 18, 1884 - July 30, 1887 Long Ridge 8-1/4 x 5-1/4", brown leather.
December 1, 1886 - July 31, 1888 Greenwich 8-1/4 x 5-1/4", brown leather.
June, 1887 - January 1882 Long Ridge 7-1/2 x 4-3/4", brown leather.
May 12, 1892 - June 1, 1893 Pound Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/8", tan paperboard.
October 13, 1893 - July 16, 1894 Bedford, NY 11-1/2 x 5-1/8", tan paperboard.
November 14, 1893 - September 15, 1894 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5", tan paperboard.
January 1, 1902 - December 1905 Long Ridge 8-1/8 x 5-l/4", brown leather.
April, 1906 - April, 1909 Long Ridge 8-5/8 x 5-3/8", brown leather.
September 1, 1907 - April 28, 1908 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-3/8", loose manila.
Box 2
Route Books (continued)
Date Town Book Size
1901 - 1907 Long Ridge 12 x 5-1/2", Canvas.
November 1, 1908 - July 13, 1909 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-3/8", manila.
July 17, 1909 - March 1, 1910 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-3/8", covers lost.
March 1, 1910 - October 29, 1910 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/4", red wallet.
July 1, 1911 - February 2, 1912 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/4", red wallet.
December 23, 1914 - September 29, 1915 No. Stamford/High Ridge 6-3/4 x 4", canvas.
March 30, 1915 - May 6, 1916 11-1/2 x 5-1/4", red covers lost.
May 2, 1916 - March 31,1917 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/4", red covers lost.
August 8, 1916 - September 7, 1917 Long Ridge 6 x 3-1/2", covers lost.
April 3, 1917 - April, 1918 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/4", loose red covers.
May 1, 1920 - July 17, 1920 Long Ridge 12-1/4 x 5-l/4", covers lost.
July 20, 1920 - October 9, 1920 Long Ridge 11-3/4 x 5-1/4", red wallet.
October 4, 1920 - January 8, 1921 Long Ridge 11-3/4 x 5-l/4", red wallet.
May 1, 1920 - June 21, 1921 Accounts, major customers 12-1/4 x 5-1/4", olive.
January 4, 1921 - April 19, 1921 Long Ridge 11-3/4 x 5-3/8", red wallet. 18, 1921 - August 27, 1921 Long Ridge 11-1/2 x 5-1/2", red wallet.
August 27,1921 - November 8, 1921 Long Ridge 11-5/8 x 5-1/2", reddish paperboard.
November 8, 1921 - February 7, 1922 Long Ridge 11-5/8 x 5-1/2", reddish paperboard.
July 1, 1922 - October 10, 1922 Long Ridge 12-1/4 x 5-1/4", olive paperboard.
October 10, 1922 - January 30, 1923 Long Ridge 12-1/4 x 5-1/4", olive paperboard.
1923... Special book in which DeForest families recorded their purchases from and payments to their own business. 12-1/4 x 5-1/2", olive.
Box 3
Large Ledgers
Date Subject Book Size
January 12, 1889 - April 3, 1893 Charge Accounts. 14-1/4 x 9-1/8", 506 pp., leather/canvas.
October 1, 1898 - October 1, 1907 Charge Accounts. 14-1/4 x l0", 786 pp., red-brown leather.
Package 4
Paper-wrapped Large Ledger
Date Subject Book Size
December 3, 1907 - August 10, 1914 Charge Accounts. 16-1/4 x 11-3/4", 786 pp. red leather.

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