(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
In the 19th century, in a ritual that continues in many areas today, farmers exhibited the biggest and best of their livestock and produce at regional fairs. The proud owner of this giant ox celebrated his animal's tremendous size by posing for this whimsical photograph. Raising enormous oxen like Jerry was a specialty among farmers in the mid-Connecticut River Valley. Farmers bought oxen in the fall and fattened them through the winter. By spring, a carefully chosen diet and extremely limited exercise produced extremely large animals. The oxen were then driven to the cattle markets in Brighton or New York. After the Civil War, a growing network of railroads began transporting western range cattle to the east. Although farmers continued to raise large oxen, the coming of the railroads signaled the end of the heyday of the stall-fed ox.