CGP Community Stories

Laurence D. Hansen, 1973


Laurence D. Hansen, 1973


Hop pickers
Otsego County
Hop industry
Migrant workers


Excerpt from 1973 interview of Laurence D. Hansen by James D. Stambaugh. Clip created for Spring 2017 Cooperstown Graduate Program Exhibition "Hop City Pickers" at the Fenimore Art Museum Research Library.

Photo Credit:
Busch Hop Yard, 1906, Arthur J. Telfer, glass plate negative, H: 5 x W: 7 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Arthur Telfer, Smith and Telfer Photographic Collection, 5-02,212.


James D. Stambaugh


Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta


Cooperstown Graduate Association










Otsego County


James D. Stambaugh


Laurence D. Hansen


South Valley, NY


LH: My father had a farm here and [his?] uncle had a farm up there. Through a process of years the farm was sold and now I have it, the whole [indistinct] together again. There was a period when hops was quite [the thing?] for cash crops. I don’t know quite when that started, but I would say probably in the maybe 1860s or somewhere in there, along Civil War time.

JS: So would your grandfather have been growing hops?

LH: Oh, yes. [Indistinct] There’s the hop house still, the buildings are used for other things but they’re still standing. On the hill there, for hay storage. But I can remember when I was a boy picking hops for my uncle who lived up there. It was quite a time of year [Laughs]. There would be--of course the neighbors here, they didn’t import many [indistinct] there were enough local people mostly [indistinct] to pick the hops. But there was times when--hop picking time--when they would--people from cities like Johnstown and Gloversville, they were industrial cities, [glove-makers and like that?], and of course they’re anxious to get out for vacation, earn some money, they had a good time. And they would work [indistinct]. And they would stay for the whole season, maybe two or three weeks or more. And they would go from place to place. And the farm women had to feed all these people, took a tremendous amount of food. And I guess they had some good times too and somebody would have a--

JS: About how long would the picking season last?

LH: Well, I should imagine it couldn’t last much longer than a month, maybe three weeks or so. Unless there were different varieties of hops, I don’t know exactly. But they generally went from one farm to another. This up here was about a five acre yard, it probably would have taken them a week or so to pick it. Somewhere I’ve got some old pictures of the hop pickers. I’ve picked a couple of boxes--if you were in the museum you probably would have seen the boxes. They’re made out of [basswood?] they’re not very heavy but oh, probably two foot by four, and maybe three deep. These hops were grown on poles. Well they would concentrate. They got so they concentrated on this hop growing, so all their effort pretty near, [profit?] went into making the hops grow. And they had a few cows and things like that, but right here they neglected, they didn’t try to make--they had a few cheese factories that would take the milk in the summer. There was a cheese factory down here by the river.

JS: In South Valley?

LH: Yes. (talking about pond for a while)


JS: What were the important crops, after the hops crop failure?

LH: Well, course then we had to go more for dairy, more cows. Then for a time they raised peas. Picked them and sent them to commission merchants in New York. I did that when I first started farming. We picked them and they were rushed to New York market and sold by commission there. Sometimes you got a fairly good price and sometimes you got almost nothing [laughing].

Original Format

Cassette Tape






James D. Stambaugh, “Laurence D. Hansen, 1973,” CGP Community Stories, accessed March 21, 2019,