Cream Hill

According to Theodore S. Gold–19th century Cornwall historian and proprietor of Cream Hill Farm–Cream Hill received its name “from the superiority of its soil and the beauty of its scenery.” James Douglas and his family first settled it soon after the first division of the town in 1738. In the great snows of that first winter, lacking other feedstuff, he is said to have fed his cattle on venison soup. He also kept Cream Hill’s first school in his farmhouse.

The Gold family, descendents of James Douglas and the daughter of Samuel Wadsworth, another early settler, became the principal farmers on Cream Hill. (Other prominent farm families included the Harts and the Hubbards.) The Golds became important leaders and innovators in the development of Connecticut agriculture. Cream Hill Farm was particularly well known for its apples, which won awards at national as well as state fairs. From 1845 to 1869, Dr. Samuel W. Gold and his son Theodore Sedgwick Gold (later to become the Secretary of the Connecticut State Board of Agriculture) ran the Cream Hill Agricultural School in an addition to their farmhouse. It was an academic boarding school for boys, but it distinguished itself from many similar academies by its program in science and agriculture.

 

 

 

T. S. Gold wrote, “What gymnasium can surpass in privilege the hills of Cornwall–pure air and water, with continual inducements to exercise all the powers of the body and mind….? The lesson to be learned on the farm from the corn crop alone, that king among cereals, exceeds all that the boy can pick up in the city streets in his whole boyhood.”

Cream Hill became a favorite location for the artists and writers who inhabited Cornwall in the 20th century, claiming among others Lewis and Ruth Gannett, who respectively wrote and illustrated the book Cream Hill: Discoveries of a Weekend Countryman, based on their experiences there. Lewis Gannett described the reforestation process that transformed the look of Cream Hill and much of the rest of Cornwall as less and less of the land was farmed. “I have watched what twenty years can do in my own hill pasture. In 1924 I took a snapshot, looking down across an open fern-and-boulder-strewn pasture slope to the house and barns. Today, from the spot where I stood with my Kodak in 1924, you cannot even see a roof. The pasture has become the kind of dense, poor forest known here-abouts as ‘sprout land.'”