Bedford’s Favorite Ice Cream Stand: From Prescott Dairy to Bedford Farms

Looking south on North Road, c.1900. J.B. Prescott Dairy barn is on the right, the family home is on the left.

J. B. Prescott Dairy Company, founded in 1880, is the longest surviving business in Bedford, though the business has changed hands and names multiple times. Josiah Bartlett Prescott, the founder of the business, acquired a plot of land on North Road in 1879. The next year he founded his dairy company, which he ran from his home for the next twenty-five years.

In 1905, J. B. Prescott acquired the adjacent lot (where Holi and Bedford Farms stand now) and built a dairy plant and a large stable for his horses. According to Williston Farrington in An Awesome Century, after morning milking, local farmers would put their shipping cans in well houses, little buildings that would keep the milk cold (think along the line of an old-fashioned refrigerator). J. B. Prescott dairy would pick the milk up from the farms, pasteurize the milk, then ship them to Bedford residents.

When J. B. Prescott died, he left the business to his son Horace, who continued to run the company until his death in 1929.

Amos L. Taylor acquired the business and renamed it Bedford Farms Dairy. In the 1950s, Bedford Farms Dairy began to produce and sell ice cream.
Dairy operations ceased in the late 1960’s, but Glenn Simm Jr. acquired and continued to operate the ice cream business. Current owner Joe Venuti acquired the business in 1984.

From its humble beginnings as a dairy company operated out of Josiah Bartlett Prescott’s home to a popular ice cream shop with two locations, Bedford Farms is the oldest business in Bedford and remains a popular place for Bedford residents enjoy a cold ice cream on a hot summer day.

Emma Battaglia, Summer 2019 intern

D-Day 75th Anniversary

Photo: Abbott Reed Webber before being deployed overseas, February 1943. From the archives of the Bedford Historical Society

On June 6 the nation observes the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy beaches by Allied forces in 1944 that ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Among those sent into battle that day was Bedford’s Abbott Reed Webber. He was a medic with the 101st Airborne Division that parachuted into enemy territory during the night. He was later wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes forest. His widow, Doris “Mickey” Webber, died earlier this year.i

Don Corey, President

Special thanks to Joe Damery for sharing this memory of Abbott Reed Webber after reading the above blog entry:

“During WWII, Mr. Webber, dressed in combat uniform & wearing his parachute pack, visited us in Grades 5 thru 9 at the Center school – then located in the brick building, now our town hall. Standing on the stage after a brief introduction, he explained how his parachute operated. He actually pulled the rip-cord which ejected a small parachute – his pilot chute, which was designed to pull and deploy his main parachute out of its container.
Not many weeks later he was on the way to Europe, where he did indeed parachute right into the war zone. We pre-teenagers were totally impressed by seeing, first-hand, just a portion of what our men and women in uniform were doing . . . Always through the years I quietly admired Mr. Webber whose actual residence was only a few hundred feet from that school building, where he simply resumed being a civilian-veteran, as so many among us continued to do.”

Women’s Army Corps in Bedford

A company of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) marching at Hanscom in their khaki summer uniforms c.1943; from the archives of the Bedford Historical Society.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established in 1942 to help with staffing shortages during WWII. The Women’s Army Corp (WAC) was established over a year later in 1943 and the name change reflected the Corps new status as part of the Army, rather than an as an auxiliary. Massachusetts Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers was instrumental in the effort to establish the WAAC/WAC and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, located in Bedford, is named in her honor.

For more information about the Women’s Army Corps check out the National Museum of the United States Army website by clicking here.

Kathleen Fahey, Executive Director