Biography of Harry Joshua Tait

President of Tait Brothers, ice cream manufacturers of Springfield, Massachusetts, was born in Chicopee, Massachusetts, August 27, 1867. His father was James and his mother Mary Laurentine (Decatur) Tait. Mr. Tait attended the schools of Chicopee and afterwards continued his studies at Westford Academy for a year. His school days over he engaged in farming for a time and also in market gardening; but did not find either to his liking. His father sold his milk business to another son, George C. Tait, and Harry Joshua Tait entered the employ of his brother, selling milk to private families. Many other lads have sold milk in the retail trade, but few have found in that occupation the open door to a great success and the building up of a large business concern, such as is operated by the Tait Brothers. As soon as Harry J. and James C. Tait became identified with the milk business established by their father they added several routes. The following year, in 1894, they opened a small plant on Greenwich Street, still continuing to retail milk. The business expanded, and in 1899, they purchased several other milk routes. The wholesaling of cream and milk was added to the retail line, and nine delivery wagons were needed to carry on the trade.

In 1898 Tait Brothers began the manufacture of ice cream, and located on Dwight Street at Harrison Avenue. In 1899 they built on Vinton Street, moving the ice cream plant there. In 1913 they built and occupied their plant on Cass Street, still in use. It is forty by one hundred and sixty feet and three stories high. In 1922 it was duplicated by a building which doubled the capacity of the Springfield plant. From a working force of from one to three men the working force in Springfield alone has grown to more than one hundred and fifty, and the business has branches in Holyoke, Northampton, Fitchburg, Worcester, New Bedford and New London in addition to an interest in an establishment in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Another branch is in Willimantic, Connecticut, and a selling agency is in Boston, Massachusetts, while a large factory for the manufacture of condensed milk is operated in Bangor, New York. They make butter, cream cheese and evaporated milk and use more than 500,000,000 quarts of hulk annually in the manufacture of ice cream. One million gallons of ice cream represents the output of the various plants during the best period of the season, one plant alone, that in Springfield, making 400,000 gallons. The output of the Springfield plant for one day, July 4, 1921, was 6,430 gallons. Tait Brothers employ more than two hundred and fifty persons the year around.

The manufacture of ice cream has proved to be one of the most profitable of the various activities of the four brothers. They have produced under the most sanitary conditions together with ingredients of the highest quality and exact scientific methods of mixing and freezing, a delicious wholesome product which has been its own introduction to an ever increasing market. The principal source of the milk and cream used in malting the ice cream is Hoosick, New York. It is clarified and pasteurized just as is the milk for retailing. After having been kept at a temperature of one hundred and forty-five degrees for half an hour it is reduced to a winter temperature, or about forty degrees by coils filled with cold water and brine, then passed to great enameled tank-shaped kettles, where the flavoring, the eggs and the solidifying ingredients are added. Recording thermometers take the temperature of the mixture as it passes through the various tanks in such a manner that from start to finish an automatic chart record of temperature, marked in red ink shows the temperature each minute and each second between given hours. The freezing machines are arranged in battery formation in the freezing room. Some of them contain ten gallons of mixture and some twenty-five. The freezing requires about fifteen minutes. It is accomplished by the brine system, combined with agitating paddles within the freezers. The frozen cream is drawn off into cans of designated size and form, where it is cut up into pint and quart bricks and sent to the trade throughout New England and beyond. The increased scope of the business required not only many horse-drawn vehicles; but it created a demand for motor trucks. It is characteristic of the Tait Brothers that they foresaw the need and resolved to build their own trucks. They manufacture the motor trucks used in their enormous ice cream business at their Cass Street plant in Springfield. This was a long stride from the day when they began business with a milk route which was supplied with a single team. At present the Tait Brothers own besides their Springfield plant and ten branches and selling offices the Franklin County Condensed Milk Company of North Bangor, New York; the creamery at Fort Coventry, New York; and a part interest in the Huber Ice Cream Company. For a time they also owned the Orange County (New York) Milk Company. The business of Tait Brothers was incorporated January 1, 1922, with a capital stock of $1,500,000 under the firm name of Tait Brothers. Harry Joshua Tait is president; Frank D., a sketch of whom follows, treasurer; George G., a sketch of whom follows, vice-president; and James C. Tait, clerk. Fraternally Harry Joshua Tait is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a member of the Encampment of the Odd Fellows as well.

He was married, March 3, 1897, to Susan Blanche Hare, of Springfield, Massachusetts, daughter of Richard Hare, and they are the parents of five children: Richard Hare, born March 10, 1898; Pauline Frank, born December 26, 1899; Raymond George, born July 16, 1902; Henry Joshua, Jr., born October 25, 1904; and Donald Winthrop, born April 12, 1912. Richard Hare, the eldest son, served in the United States Army through the World War. He was stationed first at a camp in Gettysburg, from April to July, 1918; afterwards he was at Camp Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, from July to September. He was sent overseas, attached to the 302d Battery, Heavy Tank Corps, and was made a corporal in the Motor Transport Corps. This required him to do convoy duty in every part of France. He was honorably discharged from the service July 13, 1919, and since that time he has been attached to the staff of Tait Brothers.



Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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1 thought on “Biography of Harry Joshua Tait”

  1. I have an ad my grandparents and parents company put in a booklet as the Evergreen Spa, 68 Mechanic St., Southbridge MA. One of the lines is “We serve Tait Bros. Ice Cream”. Would anyone know when they could have had the Spa as a customer? I do not know the date of the ad. The business started as LaVallee Gaucher in 1910 but I do not know how long they called themselves the Evergreen Spa. It was owned by Elzear Gilbert LaVallee and was LaVallee’s until the 1970s. I would love to know the years of the spa. Thank you if you can help. ANne

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