The farm was started by Judson and Elizabeth Wilcox in 1909. They were colorful people. Judson was an adventurer. He was raised on a farm in Eastern Canada, near Toronto. The farm was not big enough to support the whole family, so he was forced to seek his fortune elsewhere. He came out to the Northwest and then went to Alaska at the turn of the century to try his hand at gold panning. He didn’t strike it rich and came back to Washington where he and his wife opened up a hat shop in Seattle, in what is now Pioneer Square.
Being raised in the country, he didn’t very much like city life. He asked around and found out about a small farm in the Roy area where he could work for his room and board. After a week, he was hooked and traded his home and business in Seattle for the 240 acre spread that is now Wilcox Farms – all without consulting his wife.
Judson, Elizabeth and their two children took the train out to Roy and then hired a wagon to drive their household goods out to the farm. They lived in the green house, still located on the property, which is the only original building still standing and currently used as a guest house. The farm was covered in timber. Nowhere was actual farming land except a small swamp area down by Harts Lake. The family milked a few cows and raised chickens and vegetables, which were peddled to the local logging camps.
After about 10 years, Judson began getting tired of merely making enough to survive so he enrolled in a class on poultry raising from Washington State University Extension in Puyallup. He and Elizabeth took turns going to class. Chicken raising was a very labor intensive profession in those days. Heating was provided by a wood stove which had to be stoked throughout the night. From their first flock of 1,000 birds, half of them died the first night. Of the remaining birds, many were found to be roosters. The little red chicken house, still standing today, is one of the original houses and sheltered the first flock of 400 birds.
In 1931, Judson’s son, Truman, decided to stay on the farm and joined into a partnership. The farm began making a profit, and in 1940, the flock grew to 5,000 birds. A few beef cattle were raised as well, and the farm income reached approximately $20,000.
Years later, Truman and Mildred Wilcox were married. In the years that followed, four children were born: Jim, Barrie, Suzanne and Holly.
The farm entered the dairy business in 1961 when Jim returned to the farm after attending the University of Puget Sound. Barrie joined the farm as poultry manager in 1965 following his graduation from U.P.S. and three years in the Air Force.
In the seventies, the farm began marketing their own products. Up until this time, co-ops bought the product and also marketed it. In 1969, the farm began processing and packaging its own eggs in the newly built Egg Plant. This was followed by the completion of the Milk Processing Plant in 1973, incorporating the latest in milking, processing and packaging equipment. The Milk Plant was packaging 10,000 gallons a week when it started; now this is done in two hours. The feed mill was later built in 1975, thus making the farm self sufficient in feed manufacturing.
Following Truman Wilcox’s death in 1981, his sons Jim and Barrie assumed the family commitment to excellence, quality, and growth. The farm has grown to 1,800 acres at the original Roy, Washington location.
The Roy location is home to over 800,000 laying hens, several hundred thousand pullets, a shell egg processing plant and a liquid egg processing plant.
The dairy division now handles about two million gallons of milk per month. The feed division handles approx. 55 train cars per month, and Wilcox products are distributed in Wilcox trucks from the California border to the North Slope of Alaska. The farm expanded to Moses Lake, Washington, with 500 acres and three–100,000 bird lay houses, as well as an in-line processing plant.
With 90 years in the farming business, Wilcox Farms is rich in history and a “commitment to quality.”
Northwest fresh from your local family farm!