Little River Turkey Farm

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving the owners of Hinckley Hardware, John and Howard Hinckley, would go around their lumberyard and store to ask each employee, “How many kids do you have?” Then they’d send a nice plump turkey of appropriate size from Little River Turkey Farm.

The turkeys were raised by Frieda Landers on Old Post Road in Cotuit. She was born Frieda Hanni at Biberach, on the upper Rhine, in Germany in 1899. Having suffered through the terrible years of the Great War and postwar near-starvation, she left chaotic Germany in 1923. Her aunt paid her passage to America on the new North German Lloyd liner Sierra Ventana, arriving at Ellis Island on the day after Christmas, bound to Catonsville MD as housekeeper for a banker named W .O. Osborne.

Later she was hired as governess to the children of the Crouse family of Utica, NY, Since 1919, the Crouses had summered in Cotuit at the Heman Crocker house in Little River, one of the oldest in Cotuit, next to today’s Cotuit Oyster Company.

In 1928 Frieda married 50-year-old Little River plumber Edward E. Landers, whose wife Lois had died. Mr. Landers had done the plumbing and heating for the Arthur Clements Restaurant at the Cape Cod airport, and the Cotuit parsonage across from the Library.

In 1929, Frieda herself bought the Capt. William Crosby house on Old Post Road where she established the Little River Turkey Farm which extended from the Crosby House, along the ancient cart path Lovell's Lane, north to where Putnam Av. crosses Little River. The Landers moved a horse barn from the McLeod estate on Cordwood Road as a place to raise and process the turkeys. It also served as Edward Lander's plumbing workshop.

Edward Landers died in 1938, and Frieda carried on alone for the next 24 years, through the Great Depression and World War. A neighbor described her as an educated lady and heroic figure who worked like a Trojan, carrying the heavy bags of grain, slaughtering, plucking, dressing the turkeys herself.

Her flock of about 100 to 200 turkeys were bought in the spring as pullets, probably from the incubator at the Hadleys' Clear Lake Duck Farm in Marstons Mills. In 1940 Frieda sold the north half of the farm along Putnam Avenue (where the cherry tree stands) to the Bells, to became Bell Farm, so the postwar turkey farm ended at the northwest corner of the cemetery. The turkeys, who are sociable and curious birds, made an impression. Local people remember funerals at Mosswood Cemetery where the turkeys would gather along the cemetery fence to watch the ceremony.

Frieda raised three children, Elfrieda, Marc, and Edward, who became a Barnstable policeman. She was also a marvellous cook, remembered for her beautiful apple pies.

The Little River Turkey Farm came to an end in 1962 when a fire destroyed the outbuilding sheds. Frieda lived on to age 92, a fine example of a woman entrepreneur.

I'd love to hear from people who remember the turkey farm and Frieda Landers.

Published in The Barnstable Enterprise 30 Dec. 2011.

Frieda Landers was a strong supporter of foreign student exchange.  Shirley (Anderson) Fisher called on Jan. 3 to say that a fellow classmate at Barnstable High in 1952 was a German exchange student named Herman Lindner from Weissenburg in Bavaria, whom Frieda gave housing and food, probably in exchange for help on her farm.  He would ride his bike from Little River to school.  Herman has since died.  Let us know if you remember him.


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8 Responses to “Little River Turkey Farm”

  1. Claudia M. Klein Says:

    my name is Claudia and I´m from Germany. I´m searching for family members, my personally genealogical research for family members. I Know Frieda Landers as a sister of my grandmother. Her name was Irma. I´m glad having found this article about Frieda in the www. Who can give me advice to find more information? Thanks for reading.

  2. Gisela Ross-Shaban Says:

    my name is Gisela from Germany.I am searchin for my aunt Frida Landers, Cotuit, Old Post Rd.

    • jimcotuit Says:

      Someone locally told me that Frieda’s daughter Jeanne married a Mr. Anderson, and lived in this town of Barnstable within the past decade, but has moved away. The son Edward “Eddie” worked in an auto shop in Hyannis. However, I cannot find either one in current phone book. I will check with town registry, but I fear both have moved away. I know nothing of brother Marc. I will continue to make inquiries, and let you know if I learn anything.

      Meanwhile, in the interest of history, I would be interested to know the dates of birth and death, and occupations of Frieda’s parents Richard Hanni and Matilda Beck, about Frieda’s education (Gymnasium?) and her brothers and sisters.

      Mit Herzliche Gruesse, James W. Gould, Historian of Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit.

    • Nancy Manoog Says:

      Hello Gisela, my friend Eddie Landers is Frieda’s grandson. She has been gone for quite some time now. He still lives on Cape Cod. How are you related to Frieda? Eddie remembers the relatives from Germany visiting Cotuit. Nancy Manoog

      • jimcotuit Says:

        Thanks for your comment. The historical society would love to have a photo of Frieda, and photos of the turkey farm at its height. Please ask Eddie to contact me!

      • Nancy Manoog Says:

        Hi Jim, Eddie is putting together some pictures and will contact you shortly. Thank you. Nancy

  3. Ken Alsman Says:

    Thanks for the Turkey Farm info. We live in the former stable – much different now – and have wondered about the farm’s past. A lot of the old timers remember the farm and Frieda and have told us tidbits of its history. We have a couple of artifacts from the farm, a mailing label and a November 1959 bill of sale for eggs, capons and a turkey. We are always on the hunt for more – photos and effemera – but have found nothing else. With your blog as a base we will continue our research.


  4. ken alsman Says:

    Glade to see some items might turn up at the Historical Society. Meanwhile I continue to hunt in local antique stores for anything to add to the house. Will be glad to lend the few items we have if appropriate.


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