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Published November 24, 2009, 09:58 AM

Articles, photos about area creameries sought

Once upon a time, creameries dotted the countryside of Pierce County. None were more than a few miles from the numerous small dairy operations, creating reasonably easy access for hauling the milk to them. Generally, until more recent times, the farmers did the hauling themselves. Production was greatest in the warmer months and far less during the winter.

Once upon a time, creameries dotted the countryside of Pierce County.

None were more than a few miles from the numerous small dairy operations, creating reasonably easy access for hauling the milk to them. Generally, until more recent times, the farmers did the hauling themselves. Production was greatest in the warmer months and far less during the winter.

Today, those local small creameries are gone—only one is to be found in the entire county—in Ellsworth.

In 1908, Melton Dairy Company was located in Morse’s second addition in the east end of Ellsworth. But, long ago, virtually every little village or town had a creamery, mostly before 1920 when they began to gradually disappear.

Because they were not shown on a plat map of the towns, one is forced to depend upon local histories, old photos and hearsay as to their exact locations. A few old photographs in the Pierce County Historical Association collection show they existed.

Many are missing—photos are needed. Anyone who has any is asked to be willing to share a good copy or an original. Look through attics and other old albums to see if there might be photos of whatever creamery might have been nearby. Please allow the PCHA to copy them or have copies made to share.

By the 1940’s, trucks were used to haul the milk, as they could cover a larger territory along set routes (owned by truck drivers) much faster and more efficiently. People who know the names of milk truck drivers and may have photos of them are asked to provide them, as those would also be a valuable addition to the history of dairying in the county.

As a consequence of having trucks pick up the milk, consolidation and closure of creameries occurred.

Dairy herds dwindled in numbers, even though they have increased in total size as to the number of head of cattle in each operation.

According to the county ag agent, 208 dairy producers still do exist here in Pierce County. At one time, nearly every family in rural areas had a cow or had easy access to one. Now, city children probably do not even know what a cow is—they surely have no real idea as to how one milks a cow by hand, which leads to this article.

Last year, a copy of the Lawton Creamery ledger book covering July 1927 to January 1935, as well as a great, large circa 1910 photo of the Lawton Creamery, was donated to the PCHA by a Lawton family. They had found both items in their home’s attic.

These old records offer a great look into the fast disappearing documentation of the area’s past.

For those who have access to such records and really do not know what to do with them, the PCHA encourages the donation of such records and photos. Either originals or good copies are of value.

Bring them to the PCHA office (lower level of the Ellsworth Village Hall), which is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 1-4 p.m. or mail them to the office address, which is: PCHA, P. O. Box 148, Ellsworth, WI. 54011. Please give name and address so proper acknowledgment and accessioning information can be accurately done.

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