In the 1890’s Eben Jordan and his son, Eben Jordan Jr., spent a great deal of time hunting and fishing in an area called Chiltonville, Massachusetts, a small area just south of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Jordans were avid fisherman and hunters, and greatly enjoyed the area along with their guide, Nat Hoxie.
The Jordans were the founders of Jordan Marsh, the national department store that eventually became Macy’s Department store.
In 1895, after his father’s death, Eben Jordan Jr. began buying up properties and small farms in the Chiltonville area, and also built a hunting lodge. By 1901 he had turned the hunting lodge into an exquisite Tudor mansion (Chilton Hall) with 23 bedrooms and 13 baths . In 1904 he had built a large barn with 40 head of Guernsey cows (Forges Farm), the Casino that housed a fire department along with a church and social gathering place that seated 400 people, and an indoor riding ring (Tanbark Ring) that stabled 121 of the finest collection of horses in the country. The estate had its own blacksmith shop, which will be discussed later.
By 1907, Eben Jordan Jr. had amassed 2,300 acres to surround his Chilton Hall along with a 60 acre game preserve, Forges Farm, the Tanbark Ring, and multiple fields and ponds, which included Hayden, Howland, and Forge. Besides his estate, Mr. Jordan was also a large benefactor to the town of Plymouth. In1899, he donated the funds to build the Jordan Hospital twice, once when it was built and again when the hospital burned down during construction. He also paid for and built Jordan Road with the permission of the town fathers, in order to replace the public roads of Bump Rock and Mast Road that ran through his property.
By 1910, Mr. Jordan’s health was failing, and the estate was being neglected. The Tanbark Ring burned down, the 121 prized horse collection was sold to Frederick Pabst Jr., the Milwaukee brewing heir, and Eben Jordan put the entire estate up for sale. Mr. Jordan accepted an offer from Sherman L. Whipple, a prominent Boston attorney, who also shared in Mr. Jordan’s devotion to horsemanship, fishing, and open country side.
When Mr. Whipple was asked what interest he had in the heard of Guernsey cows, he responded that Grade A Guernsey milk sold at a higher price per ounce than French Champagne!
Mr. Whipple originally came from New London, New Hampshire, and applied to both Yale and Harvard for admissions. Harvard charged 50 cents for their catalog, and Yale’s was free. Sherman Whipple went to Yale at the age of 15.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Mr. Whipple became a prominent attorney in Boston and had many spectacular cases, but he was mainly known as a litigator who represented the underdog, oppressed, and under privileged. As a staunch Democrat he ran for the U.S. Senate against Republican Henry Cabot Lodge. The campaign was designed to unseat Senator Lodge and his elite associates and strong ties to the banking institutions.
Mr. Whipple lost the election, but continued his law practice. He lived in Boston, but spent the next 20 years commuting to his much loved Chilton Hall, and the surrounding estate. He died very suddenly in 1930, after spending the morning fishing on Forge Pond. Sherman Whipple’s three children Dorothy, Katharyn, and Sherman Jr. inherited the estate but with the country into a severe depression, it was next to impossible to sell such a large piece of land which had become known as “The Forges”.
Charles A. Lindberg was interested in purchasing The Forges, but the depression on the kidnapping and death of his eldest child caused the family too much grief to make the purchase.
The Forges was held by the three children Dorothy Whipple Fry, Katharyn Whipple Withington, and Sherman Whipple Jr. until their deaths, but even to this day, several of Sherman L. Whipple’s grandchildren and great- grandchildren reside on most of the estate.
By the early 1970’s, the 2300 acres had been considerably reduced. 600 acres had been cut off by the construction of Route 3 and sold to the town of Plymouth. The town later built several football, soccer, and baseball fields on the land that are called Forges Fields. They also built a golf course on it called Cross Winds.
Like many New England dairy farms, Forges Farm ceased operations in 1966, Chilton Hall was torn down for safety reasons, as were the Casino and other farm buildings.
But even today there are 3 operating farms on the estate: Serendipity Stables is run by Dausha Campbell, Sherman Whipple’s great-granddaughter; Little Forge Farm is owned by “Lalla” Brewster, a granddaughter, and Whip’s Farm is owned by June and Nathan Withington, a grandson.
Whip’s Farm consists of 200 acres, all within the confines of the Eben Jordan/Sherman Whipple estate. The fields and ponds have been restored to their original luster, but with painful struggles against environmentalist and governmental agencies that try to enforce new and confusing environmental laws.
June and Nathan Withington live in the original blacksmith shop mentioned at the beginning of this narrative. The blacksmith shop has been moved twice. The first time it was moved to become a barn for one of Nathan’s older brothers, Sherman Whipple Withington. “Whip”, as he was affectionately known, who lived in the barn until his death from spinal meningitis at the age of 18 in 1936. The barn was moved once more as a memorial to Whip, where it assumed the name of Whip’s Barn. Whip`s Barn has undergone several changes, upgrades, and additions, but the original part is intact, along with the bellows hanging from the ceiling, and the stone fireplace.
When the fields, ponds and buildings were restored, the farm took the name Whip’s Farm as an adjunct to Whip’s Barn. The farm has 11 stalls, riding ring, and an abundance of open fields and pasture. The ponds are stocked with trout, and the deer, coyotes, and turkeys come free of charge. The 13,000 to 16,000 bales of hay harvested yearly go to the boarding horses and the local farms and stores.
Whip’s Farm is a place of beauty to the Nathan Withington family. The visual rewards make the effort all worth while. It is the Withington family’s fondest hope this area will remain unspoiled for generations to come.