Friday, December 10, 2010

Ducks for the Military, 1944

"Quackalackadingdong", photograph by
Erlend Schei, June 22, 2010, republished
under a Creative Commons license.
During the height of World War II in 1944, Merrill Sampson of Lakeville devoted the production of his Main Street duck farm towards producing both ducks and chickens to ease growing food shortages.  Though considered a luxury food and typically not standard military fare, duck produced on Sampson's farm was sold to for use by both the army and the navy in that year.  The operation of the Sampson farm was documented for posterity just seven weeks after the invasion of Europe by a correspondent for the Brockton Enterprise:

With the memory of the mad scramble of Middleboro folks for food the past few months, the activities of N. Merrill Sampson, South Main street, just over the Lakeville line, to help out the food situation are worthy of note.

Sampson is a duck raiser. It was his custom to grow ducks in the spring, fatten them up, put them in cold storage, and then make plans for another year. This year he is hatching throughout the year, as fast as the duck eggs are available. He plans to raise 23,000 birds this year. The demand for them is so great that so far none has been placed in cold storage. The army is taking vast quantities of them, and the navy is getting many more.

The duck farm has been operated for a great many years, and from the start Mr. Sampson has been connected with it. Recently he took it over from Frank H. Conklin, who operated it for some years.

Mr. Sampson also hatched 150,000 chickens during this spring. One incubator handles 21,000 eggs at a setting. He has many smaller one also, but in spite of the tremendous chicken production he still devotes his attention principally to ducks.

Source:Brockton Enterprise, "Ducks Big Food Item", July 26, 1944


Anonymous said...

Mike, I live on Cedar Street in Middleborough. My lot used to be part of the Soule Farm. In 1949 my lot was willed to two sisters who sold it out of the Soule family.

There are two slab foundations, each about 14x120 feet and also a large barn foundation about 24x60. None of any wood structures remain.

I spoke a few years ago with Mr Guidibone (sp) regarding the foundations. He really could not recall, but he thought that years ago there was a duck raising operation going on at my property.

There is a large man made pond (dries up some summers) with iron pipes for gravity diversion, several wells, and numerous stone foundations where sheds were located. One iron pipe is actually "through" a tree as the crotch of the tree enclosed around the pipe.

I was also told that there appears to be evidence of "bog iron" production on my lot.

I've never persued the issues as I don't really want any hysterical er,...historical committee overly interested in limiting my ownership. But history is interesting

Mike said...

Thanks for the information regarding the “ruins” on your property on Cedar Street. As indicated by Mr. Guidoboni, they are indeed the remains of a former duck farm. The farm was operated by Charles H. Soule during the early 20th century and was known as Valley Farm. Click here to read more about it.

Post a Comment