The first creamery was on the west corner as you start down Creamery Road, south of Dexter, Iowa. According to Ruby (Blohm) Neal, one farmer had a wagon with low sides and a high seat in front. He picked up everyone’s cream on his way to town. Other’s delivered their own cream and eggs. Some farm women churned cream into butter. There was quite a demand for good country butter.
Mr. Pierce was the first operator of the Farmers Cooperative Creamery. There were four or five routes. Jim Meister, then just a boy, was in charge of one route. Drivers pulled up to an dock where cans were unloaded with a derrick operated by a crank. A hoist kept the cans from falling while milk was poured into a large vat, then run through a huge belt-driven steam operated separator. The separated milk ran into another vat leading to the side where farmers waited to refill their empty cans. Cream was run into another vat where it was churned and stored in big wooden butter tubs. Butter was sold in town, the rest shipped east by railroad. Buttermilk, leftover from butter making, flowed into another vat which had a hose to the outside, if farmers wanted it. Most used it to feed livestock.
A creamery has “a peculiar odor, half sour and half sweet,” according to Iowa author Bess Streeter Aldrich, in her book The Rim of the Prairie. That describes it well.
In 1908 the creamery had 180 patrons. For the month of June, patrons were paid nearly $5000 for butterfat at the rate of 24 cents per pound. The population of Dexter in 1900 795 people, 767 in 1910.
At one time, under the leadership of James Keachie, the creamery became the most important enterprise of the town, and one of the most successful creameries in this section of Iowa. During that period almost all of the butter was shipped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Credits: 1968 Dexter Centennial history, Ruby (Blohm) Neal.
Interesting to read about early enterprises like this.
I grew up on old Creamery Road–still gravel–and my sister still lives there on the farm.
That makes it even more interesting!
Thank you for introducing yourself on my blog. I appreciate your industriousness as an archivist and “keeper of the family flame,” so to speak. We are preserving our legacy for many we’ll never meet!