About William S. Teator
In 1767 Hendrick Teator, a German Palatine, purchased 164 acres of land in Upper Red Hook from Peter Van Benthuysen. The land remained in the family for three generations. In 1860, the grandson of Hendrick, Andrew H. Teator married Ruth Monfort. Their son, William Seward Teator was born in April and eventually inherited the farm from his parents. William created a legacy for the Teator family that was immortalized by an extensive collection of photos, letters, and artifacts.
William Teator married Nevada Myers. The couple had two children, Roscoe and Marion, who were photographed extensively by Teator. Teator was educated at the Upper Red Hook Academy and well traveled before taking over as head of the farm. Under his control, the newly named Blue Ribbon Farm flourished. Teator’s success was of course due in large part to his initiative, but it was also a product of the time period in which he lived. This country was experiencing rapid industrialization and economic prosperity between 1860-1930. Teator saw farming as an art; in a manuscript written about his grandfather, Jon Losee claimed that he “designed apples rather than cultivated them.” His methods were widely successful. The apples Teator designed won prizes both locally and nationally. He shared his methods with other farmers publishing papers and giving speeches at the local Grange. Beyond that, he would personally ship apples to anyone who asked, and he would not charge shipping fees to customers. The farm had a strong labor infrastructure which allowed Teator to pursue other interests.
Teator was an artist, a collector, a writer, and a traveler. He was one of the only educated members of his family. He valued exploration and experimentation. These interests manifested themselves in all areas of his life. He was a collector of shells and Indian artifacts; he was a photographer and avid traveler. Teator was a local figurehead with global ties. He exemplified the nineteenth-century Renaissance man. Being born into a position of privilege as a white educated male from a landowning family facilitated his success and he quickly became a local figurehead with global ties. Teator shared a mentality with other elites in the Hudson Valley aristocracy who sought to show the valley’s global capabilities. However, he remained socially distant from the established riverfront families of the upper class: socially, Teator was a farmer. Teator died in 1930.