Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Historical Society met on March 19, 2012 at the historic Mott Building on Garrettsville’s Main Street to hear a tale of modern-day sleuthing through nearly ninety years of local history, both personal and business-oriented. Researcher/historian Scott Lawless outlined his trek through a wide variety of sources, from cemetery plots to county recorders’ offices and court records, newspaper snippets and obituaries, travel itineraries and milk bottle collectors. The internet was a vital tool but interviews with local individuals added color and substance–as well as mystery– to the final outcome. It all started with a milk bottle retrieved from under the floor of the barn behind the Lawless Garage on North Street, Garrettsville by a young fellow–fifth grade maybe–not in school for reasons not bearing much closer scrutiny. As was the custom of the time, it had embossed on its front the name of the dairy which sold the milk that had been contained in it : Beardsley Dairy, Barkrest Herd, Garrettsville, Ohio. No such dairy now exists. What happened to it? It existed (beginning in 1922)–pre-pasteurization–in an era of local dairies which supplied local consumers. It was probably doomed by tightening health regulations and their increased costs, as well as improved transportation facilities, allowing the shipping of raw milk to larger population centers for processing, distribution and consumption. Other such local enterprises included Rand Dairy and Spencer Farms in Hiram…all gone now. So…. It begins with David J. Beardsley moving from New England to the Western Reserve, as did many others. His first son was killed in the Civil War and is buried in Freedom West Cemetery. The second son–married to a daughter of the founder of Drakesburg–ran the farm but came to an untimely end. HIS son–Orsimus Drake Beardsley went to OSU and married Jessie Sykes of Girard, whose family made money in metal products; they moved to Chicago, where they made more. O.D. and Jessie did well for themselves and traveled extensively, often spending summers at the farm in Freedom(which couldn’t have been all that comfy, considering that he suffered from asthma). Then O.D. died in 1917, leaving the farm in Freedom to Jessie and the plant in Chicago to his sister Hazel. The large residence still on the property, known as the Manor House, was built in 1918 and the big dairy barn on Asbury Rd. was built in 1922 by Stamm Construction, the first modern concrete barn in the area, perhaps in the state. The place had all the mod cons : bottling plant, walk-in cooler, manure disposal, etc….quite the operation. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the metal billiard tables manufactured by the Sykes Co. had fallen out of favor and the farm was mortgaged to the hilt to prop up its operations. Alas! Fifty-eight acres. were sold off in 1927 (The dairy had an ad in the county school yearbook, the Speedometer, in 1927); the dairy continued for two more years then the entire remaining acreage was sold to the Nelsons in 1929. Jessie, who by then had married a decorated veteran of WWI named Manville J. Barker, Jr., moved to Massachusetts, where she died in 1950. The farm went into foreclosure in 1935 then was purchased by the Jones family who continued farming and dairying for a number of years, with Sam Fields (His son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Phrania Fields are remembered locally) as manager and caretaker. Most of the land was sold again in 1972; Burrows (at the Manor House) and Brookover names figure in continued operations there. Currently, Gallagher is the name to watch. All that from a discovery in a grandpa’s barn! Unless you have one in YOUR attic or basement or barn, there are only three bottles in existence. Quite a tale…and local residents in attendance at the meeting added colorful notes and recollections of the most recent operations there, personal and public knowledge that researchers find invaluable (Art Whitney said that one of the dairy workers “boarded with” his mother out in Freedom. Maxine Brookover Flint knew the plant inside and out. Elaine Duffield had the Speedometer.) in fleshing out a coherent story. Well, maybe now it’s on to Spencer Farms.