F. W. Stock—and others—paid “pasture rent” to Robert B. Sutton for the use of what was later to become Stock’s Park. Sutton also owned the 78 acres that included today’s Cold Springs Park.
August Stock, overseer of the building of the mill in Litchfield in 1881, died in early 1883 following a horrific accident at the mill in Hillsdale. Later that same year, his 17-year-old sister, Josephine, died of the dreaded disease of consumption. Consumption also took the life of the eldest Stock son, Alfred, in January 1884. Consumption was an old term for wasting away of the body, usually due to tuberculosis.
Following the deaths of these three of her adult children, Wilhelmina “Minna” Seidel Stock, wife of mill owner F. W. Stock, worked through her grief by developing what had been an overgrown swampland behind their home into a beautiful park that she called Willow Park and the townspeople of Hillsdale came to call Mrs. Stock's Park. It had ponds, swans and a profusion of unusual plantings. She was aided by Margaret Decker Waldner. Margaret met and fell in love with Joseph Waldner, an Austrian who had been brought to the United States by Mr. Stock, on the ship that carried them here. While Joseph acted as Mr. Stock's coachman, Margaret became a maid and gardener for Mrs. Stock. It was Margaret who planted the original loosestrife plans in Willow Park (not such a good idea in the long run!).
For many years, Stock’s Park was the activity center as well as a favorite spot for luncheons, parties and quiet reflection for the Stock family (left), their employees and others.
The mill and park property were sold in 1959, with the gradual deterioration of both. In 2003, the park was deeded to the City of Hillsdale, at which time City Council voted unanimously to form a committee, headed by Mary Anne MacRitchie, to pursue restoration of the park. Sadly, Mary Anne died before the completion of the project.