History of Westfall Farm

 

 

 Westfall Winery is located at Westfall Farm, one of New Jersey’s most historic and dynamic locations. According to the original deed, Simon Westfall purchased the land for Westfall Farm from the Earl of Perth in 1774.

 

 

Elias Boudinot

The lawyer who handled the transaction, Elias Boudinot,  would later serve as a delegate to the Continental Congress, and sign the Treaty of Paris. Simon Westfall built the original stone house and farmed the tract of land.

 

The American Revolution broke out on April 19, 1775 and Westfall Farm was suddenly thrust into the front lines as Joseph Brant and his Tories conducted raids in neighboring Port Jervis, New York.

Joseph Brant

The farm survived the revolution and beginning in the early nineteenth century, Westfall farm became a stop on the Underground Railroad for run-away slaves looking for freedom in the north. The farm passed through various members of the Westfall family until Wilhelmus Westfall purchased the farm from Samuel Westfall in 1826. Wilhelmus lived on the farm with his family until his death in 1843.

 

During a seventeen-year period, Wilhelmus added onto the house, and built a productive farm that traded with Port Jervis, New York.

David Westfall inherited the farm from his father and no single person has ever occupied the farm as long as David Westfall. He was an upstanding member of the community, lived the life of a comfortable gentleman farmer, and a successful business man.

 

During his ninety five year lifetime on the farm, David grew up, raised a family, and watched his grandchildren grow up. Under his leadership, the farm dealt in a wide array of business enterprises, including lumber, produce, and dairy, as nearby Port Jervis exploded into a railroad boomtown.

 

Upon David Westfall's death in 1916, his grandson Dr. Wilhelmus David Westfall, inherited the farm. Dr. Westfall, a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Missouri, was better suited in academia than in the science of farming. He remained in Missouri while tenants worked the farm through the Great Depression.

In 1940, he sold the property to Charles G. Mortimer Sr., and began a new chapter in Westfall Farm's history.  At this time, Charles Mortimer was an eminent figure in the advertising world and would later assume the Presidency of the General Foods Corporation, which was at that time, one of the largest corporations in the world.

 

The 1940's and 1950's saw the resurrection of Westfall Farm as a thriving dairy business. In 1942, CGM  installed indoor plumbing, expanded the main barn complex to accommodate the growing dairy herd, and constructed new buildings to make Westfall a state of the art dairy producer for its time. For his efforts, the Westfall herd continued to break production and quality records for milk throughout the 1950's and into the early 1960's.

The 1940's saw the growth of another Westfall tradition: Morgan Horses. The first of the "legendary" Morgans began their career at Westfall Farm in the early 1940's and to this day, they are an enduring icon of farm. CGM and his wife Elizabeth were horse enthusiasts and horsemanship became both a major family pastime and an integral part of daily life on the farm.

 

The mid 1960's saw a change in economics for Sussex County. The labor pool for the dairy business had dried, and the work intensive dairy herd at Westfall Farm became increasingly difficult to maintain. CGM donated the Westfall Holstein herd to the Bordentown Reformatory in 1966. The following year, Westfall farm became converted to a modern Morgan Horse facility. Van Darymple, manager of Westfall Farm for over sixty years, records this officially on the barn blackboard:

 

               " APRIL 19, 1966 - COWS OUT"

                "APRIL 19, 1967 - HORSES IN"

 

For a decade, the Westfall Morgan Horses won Blue Ribbons captured many accolades as Westfall Farm evolved from a rough and tumble dairy to a refined stately horse farm. Fishing ponds and hayfields replaced the old Holstein grazing pastures. Celebrities such as Ingrid Bergman visited Westfall Farm, and in September of 1974, Westfall Farm celebrated its bicentennial with one of the largest "shindigs" in Montague's history!

Charles G. Mortimer passed away in 1978 and his wife followed in 1982. Both are buried on the farm. Their eldest son, Charles "Duke" Mortimer Jr., became owner of the farm and he and his wife Elisabeth "Bette" Smith Mortimer moved into the farm in 1985. They lived there happily, enjoying the ever changing natural wonders and visits from their children and grandchildren. Sadly, Bette passed away in 1997, but her love of nature and all living things still is a major ongoing theme on Westfall Farm.

 

In more recent history, the farm's business has seen the continuance of the horse breeding and boarding, the return of the cows (though the new cows are Black Angus beef cattle), Christmas trees, and hay.

 

Aside from the traditional farm ventures, Duke Mortimer, a thirty year veteran of the television and film business, brought the Mortimer Dramatic Arts Workshop to Westfall Farm. He converted a portion of a barn into a professional theater and twice a week, young students from all over the Delaware Valley come to refine their skills in the theatrical arts under "Mr. M's" direction.

Duke and Bette's youngest son, Loren, and his wife Georgene opened a new chapter in Westfall Farm's history. Loren and Georgene set a plan in motion in the Fall of 2000 that would culminate in what is now Westfall Winery. Working along side the traditional farm activities, they broke ground for the new grape vineyards on November 25, 2000. The Winter and Spring of 2001 saw the full-scale renovation of an old dairy building into a new wine production facility. They launched Westfall Winery. Today, as Westfall Winery expands into retail selling of it's high quality wines, Westfall Farm's third century appears to be as exciting and dynamic as the previous two.

141 Clove Road Montague, NJ 07827                                                             973-293-3428