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Farm History

About the Farm

Farm History

Hilltop Hanover Farm is located on the unceded, traditional, and colonized homelands of the Wappinger and Munsee Lenape people.

Lenni Lenape means 'Human Beings', 'Original People' or the 'Real People' in the Munsee language.  At the time of first contact with European colonizers in the seventeenth century, the Lenape resided in relatively small, decentralized communities consisting of a few hundred people per geographic territory.

Like the Lenape, the Wappinger settled in camps forming loosely associated bands along the lower Hudson River.  The Wappinger were among the first people recorded to have encountered Henry Hudson's ship the Halve Maen (Half Moon) in 1609.

In addition to hunting and fishing for food, the Wappinger people practiced seasonal agriculture growing corn, beans and a variety of squash. The land also provided fruits, flowers, seeds, roots, nuts and honey.

After the conflicts of the Revolutionary War and intensity of contact with the European settlers pushed the Wappinger and Lenape people west and south and into upstate New York and Canada, in the 1860s, the United States government sent most Lenape remaining in the eastern United States to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma and surrounding territory) under the Indian removal policy. In the 21st century, most Lenape now reside in Oklahoma, with some other communities in Wisconsin and Ontario.   The "enchanted wolf," with the right paw raised defiantly, is the symbolic representation of the Wappinger people. 

In the late 1780s, Abraham Underhill established his family farm on 445 acres which was known for raising quality cattle and horses.  The Underhill's farmed the property for over 125 years. Philip Berolzheimer, President of the Eagle Pencil Company of NYC, purchased the farm in 1911 and renamed it Charhelen after his children, Charles and Helen.

In the 1940s, Henry and Molly McMahon Christal owned the farm and named it Hanover Hill Farm where they raised prize winning Guernsey cows and Morgan horses.  After 30 years the Christal dairy operation shut down and the herd was sold.  A group of investors purchased the farm in 1977 for the purpose of breeding high quality Holstein cows.  By 1991 the breeding program for Hilltop Hanover Holsteins ceased and the entire herd of 123 cattle were sold at auction.

In 2003, 187 acres of the original farm was purchased by Westchester County for watershed protection and agricultural education.  In 2010, the Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm formed and manages the farm, develops all programming and organizes events. 

Today, the history of the farm is remembered by all who contribute to working the land and enjoy the beauty of the open space.  Our Historic House is a snapshot in time where our crew of farmers rest and enjoy the view through the hundred-year-old glass. 

Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center