Content Tools


Wisconsin is 'Dairy Land'. In our moving, a lot of material got disca-bobulated and now we don't know Who sent us this article nor who 'Jamie' is but the article is worthwhile, historical and interesting, and we are sure will be of great interest to many of our readers. The man who sent it will tell us about our carelessness.-Elmer.

WHO AMONG our readers remembers driving along Wisconsin roads in the early 1900's and hearing insistent blasts of steam whistles?

Not to be confused with the easily identifiable train whistles, these whistles were distinctive, each having its own personality to the initialed. They were the whistles of the creameries, urging tardy farmers to hurry up with their cream.

The weary farmers, like the day, not quite yet awake, would slap the reins on their horses' backs and gid-dap them into a trot in order to get to the creamery before the day's churning began.

And if the roads were rough and rutty, which most of them were, the cream would be partly churned by the time they arrived. This is merely a city man's' conjecture, but we don't think we are too far from fact.

THE ABOVE IS the result of a letter we received from Scott McCormick of Princeton, Wis., advising us that his father Edgar C., a pioneer creamery operator in Portage County had passed away.

The McCormicks helped to make history in the creamery business in Portage County. Scott's father started the Eau Pleine creamery near Dancy in 1902 for the farmers of the neighborhood. Apparently the farmers were apt pupils. At the end of six weeks he moved on to Buena Vista to operate a creamery there until 1913.

Uncle Fred came to Portage County in 1899 to operate the Hetzel creamery near Almond. He also ran the Arnott Creamery from 1909 to 1917.

Uncle Otto came in 1903 and learned the creamery trade from Uncle Fred. The following spring he went to Bancroft to run the creamery there until 1912. He also operated creameries at Stockton, Buena Vista, and Plover.

Another McCormick, George, learned his trade under Scott's father at Buena Vista and then moved to Plover to operate a creamery there. He died in 1915.

Uncle Fred died in 1949, Uncle Otto in 1955, and Scott's father passed away on May 29th of this year. So, a generation of Mc Cormicks who made history in the creamery business in Portage County has gone to greener pastures.

WE VENTURE A GUESS that every time Scott McCormick hears a steam whistle he will remember his father and uncles pulling the whistle cords to hurry the tardy and often tired farmer.

Scott McCormick remembers 'when my Uncle Fred was at Arnott. I heard him blow six long blasts on the whistle one morning for a farmer who was lingering. This creamery had a high-pitched chime whistle. There was another creamery to the south of us that used to blow its low-pitched chime whistle quite a bit.

'My father had two whistles on the creamery at Buena Vista for a while. These froze and burst one winter. Then he used a single whistle from an old threshing machine that he bought from the owner of the machine.'

THE OLD-FASHIONED creamery with its whistle to hurry the farmers along is a thing of the nostalgic past. Milk is now picked up at the farms and rushed to large and modern dairies in fast trucks over hard-surfaced roads.

The only whistles left in the dairy industry are the horns on the milk trucks and a few whistles on the dairy and cheese factories to announce the time to begin work, to knock off for lunch and the time to quit. Even the morale shattering whistle of the old steam locomotive has been relegated to a memory of 'the good old days.'

Incidentally, the creamery business according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, got its start in Switzerland in 1820 when Swiss farmers sent their cows to the sweet upper pasture where most of the milk was made into cheese. Each small farmer was paid in due ratio according to the yield of his few cows.

The modern creamery may be said to date from 1866, when the first distributing society was founded in Denmark. The number of creameries advanced in Denmark between 1882 and 1914 from two to 1,503.