Bertha Bottenus - Backyard Poultry Farmer
What a woman can accomplish by raising chickens in a suburban lot has been demonstrated by Bertha Bottenus. In early 1912, she and her husband decided to raise a few chickens for outdoor activity and employment. Bertha soon became thoroughly invested in her chickens and gave up all her social affiliations and devoted herself strictly to the rearing of a flock of White Leghorns.
The little flock grew and grew until it spread over the whole back yard and numbered several hundred. That was quite a record of one year's work of an amateur working within a limited area.
Bertha stated that she owed her success to the application of business principles to poultry raising. She kept an account of sales, expenses, and a record of every egg laid and what became of each. If an egg hatched into a chicken, she could tell just what it cost to raise that chicken.
The Bottenus chickens laid 11,030 eggs in 1913, which paid their board bill and paid for the coops and other equipment with a small profit left over. It was a very healthy flock since out of 1,282 chicks hatched, only three died.
When asked about the secret to her success, she stated, “The laying house and brooders are kept clean and well ventilated, and I have never fed a spoonful or wet mash to young or old. They have a dry mash or ‘chicken chowder’ before them at all times. One way that I can cut down on my feed bills is to buy all my grain and feed in large quantities, thus getting a wholesale price.”
Bertha put up a sign in the front yard bearing the proud insignia, “Puritan Poultry Farm.” She never had to develop a market. Customers came to the house for fresh eggs and broilers.
Mrs. Bottenus also became a fancier of exhibition quality poultry. She purchased a flock of Columbian Plymouth Rocks, a comparatively new breed of showy looking birds. They were the Barred Plymouth Rock's shape and weight and the plumage of the Light Bramah-white, with black trimmings. She showed at some of the nearby poultry exhibitions.
Bertha Stevens was born on June 9, 1870, in New York. She married William George Bottenus, born on April 16, 1865, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Billy Bottenus was a minor league outfielder and first basemen. He began playing during the 1888 season and last took the field during the 1907 campaign.
Billy Bottenus compiled a career batting average of .285 with 31 home runs in his 807-game career. On May 12, 1895, he hit four home runs and a double in one seven-inning contest for the Buffalo Bisons.
Bertha and William came to Bratenahl in 1907 and purchased their home at 89 Burton Road (Now 10109 Burton) on December 5, 1907. William became a lithographer but devoted his morning and evening hours helping with the chickens.
Bertha died on October 10, 1946. William died on March 15, 1956, in Geneva, Ohio. Both are buried at Whitehaven Memorial Park in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.