Rathbun Farms, Eleven Mile Road, Chrystal (PC)
Howard and Melanie Rathbun (and Family)
Farms in picturesque northern Potter County strives to make
high-quality maple products at their family-operated Maple farm in
farm, owned by Howard and Melanie Rathbun, has been producing maple
syrup and other products at this historic location since Howard’s
great-grandfather, Josiah, returned from service in the Civil War.
Rathbun served in Company G with the 46th
PA Volunteers. He was discharged in 1863 after an eight-week
hospital stay, and returned to northern Potter County, where he took
over the land that is now Rathbun Farms.
office was needed in the Eleven Mile area, and Josiah became
postmaster, as was common for retired Civil War Veterans. The
settlement that Josiah lived in had no official name at that time,
and the decision was left up to postal staff. The town was named
Chrystal, but to whom or what that name can be attributed has been
lost to time.
addition to his duties as postmaster, Josiah also produced maple
syrup, using an open arch in the woods to boil sap.
son Howard later took over the post office until its closure in
1919, and continued producing syrup on the property. A sugar shack
was built in the woods for sap-boiling activities.
third generation producer Ernie Rathbun moved the sugar shack from
the forest to the farm, increasing visibility and ease-of-access for
production and distribution.
was then passed down to the current owners, Howard and Melanie
Rathbun, and they and their children live on the century-and-a-half
original post office building and home of Josiah Howard is still a
part of the property, and is now the home of fifth-generation
producer Duffy Rathbun and his wife, Anne Marie. Duffy’s sister,
Paula, and her husband Gerald Webber live in another home on the
property. Their children and grandchildren are the sixth and seventh
generation of Rathbun children to be involved in sugaring.
sugaring business has changed dramatically since Josiah Rathbun
first started boiling in the open air over a century ago.
started as a 75-acre farm, producing syrup and sugar for home use
and trade, has become a nearly 200-acre farm, and maple products are
sold to a wide array of customers.
addition to maple syrup, the Rathbuns produce maple cream, candy,
sugar and cotton candy. Howard and Melanie’s son-in-law keeps bees
and makes honey products, as well, and part of the farm is leased to
Hoffman’s Dairy Farm for growing hay and corn.
new Sugar Shack is filled with modern equipment, including two
natural gas-fired evaporators, a finishing pan, a reverse osmosis
machine, filter press, automatic takeoff, canner and all the
equipment used in honey production. The building also boasts a small
kitchen, and all 1300 taps tended by the Rathbun Family have been
put on a modern tubing and vacuum system.
Rathbuns’ roots run deep in the area. Melanie hails from
Shinglehouse, just a short trip down Eleven Mile Road from the
village of Chrystal. Howard’s family has lived in the area since the
1800’s. His mother taught at the school in Millport which is now the
site of the Oswayo Valley Historical Society, and the postmaster’s
desk used by Josiah Rathbun is on display there.
and Melanie’s granddaughter is the Agriculture Sciences Teacher at
the Coudersport Area High School, and three of their offspring have
been Potter/Tioga Maple Sweethearts, with one being chosen as State
Maple Queen in recent years.
Rathbun Farms offers tours on Maple Weekend, and orders can be taken
for Maple Products year-round. For more information on Rathbun Farms
or to order high-quality Maple Products, call Howard and Melanie at
814-698-2421; Gerald and Paula at 698-2481; or Duffy and Anne-Marie
at 698-2322. Rathbun Farms also has a Facebook page with pictures
and details on upcoming events. The Sugar House is located at 2254
Eleven Mile Road near Shinglehouse, in the village of Chrystal.