An open house will be held Sunday celebrating Noella Hemond, Minot’s oldest citizen, who turns 100 on Christmas Day. Submitted photo

MINOT — Noella Ferland Hemond is the epitome of the word “matriarch.”

Step inside this woman’s home at R.E. Hemond Dairy Farm on 232 Pottle Hill Road and get ready to answer her questions. 

“Who are you and where’re you from?” she asked me during a recent interview, without giving anything away in either step or gaze.

It was obvious who was in charge, yet it was just her way of asking for my name and hometown, which I quickly told her.

Over a hundred relatives and friends from far, near and wide are expected to stop by today between noon and 3 p.m. to celebrate this woman who was born in Lewiston on Christmas Day in 1919.

Her parents were French Canadians, and English was a language they had to learn in Maine.

She relates how her father taught them to some degree.

“My brother, who was two years older than me, went to school and my father taught him, ‘If you are thirsty say water. If you’ve got to go to the bathroom say toilet.’ Well, when he (her brother) wanted to go to the bathroom he kept saying ‘water.’”

Noella and her family moved to Poland on the advice of a doctor because her mother “got sickly from working in the mills” in Lewiston. The doctor said, “Move to a farm and get fresh air.”

Her mother learned how to milk cows and Noella said she was the first one in her family to milk cows with her mother.

Her father was a blacksmith who shoed horses for H.P. Hood.

“During the Depression he always had work,” because the huge number of horses delivering Hood’s milk needed to be shod.

That’s how she met her husband, Roland Hemond, because he stopped by to talk to her father about shoeing horses.

Roland was shy and bashful and 18 when he started “courting me,” Noella said. She was a year older.

They were married in September 1940. Roland also worked for H.P. Hood. Five years later they bought the Damon Farm on Pottle Hill Road. The Hemond dairy farm began with “one little old barn and probably 20 cows.”

The herd increased in number and the Hemonds built their first 100-foot cow barn in 1949 and bottled their own milk until 1987, when they began to ship it to Oakhurst.

According to Noella’s daughter, Rolande, the local dairy market underwent a great change since “it didn’t matter to the supermarkets if you were a local farm with farm fresh milk or if you were H.P. Hood coming out of Boston.”

After Roland passed away on Thanksgiving in 2008, Noella got actively involved in the decision-making on the farm. 

“The boys (Hemonds) know it,” Rolande said. “They run by her what they’re doing, and what they need to do, and what they want to spend money on . . . mother needs to know.”

Noella said, “I do because . . . it’s my pocketbook.”

“No one spends a dollar here unless I know of it,” she added.

There will be five generations of Hemonds at Sunday’s open house, spanning 98 years from Noella’s birth almost 100 years ago to a great-great-grandchild of 2.

Noella and Roland had nine children, 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

And considering it all, Noella said the most significant moment of her life was when she met her husband, who just stopped by to talk horse shoeing with her father.


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