Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
June 15,1994, Page 32
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
Good Old Days
By Dee Zimmerman
Shortly after dairying took off at the turn of the century, cheese factories sprang up here and there throughout the county. Every few miles, there would be a frame building, usually at an intersection, which would be a cheese factory. There were also some creameries interspersed among the cheese factories, creameries for butter making. However the cheese factories greatly outnumbered the creameries.
Milk or cream, was hauled by the farmer, using horses and wagons to transport his product to market, daily, so traveling very far wasn’t feasible, and that encouraged the need of a cheese factory or creamery every few miles.
Later, as milk hauling trucks came on the scene, some cheese factories were phased out as the competition in accepting milk became greater with the ability to transport it farther and quicker. As time went on, other factors and requirements in manufacturing milk products brought the need of financial investments to continue operations, which discouraged several to close out their factories. The wane of cheese factories in the County was brought about by a combination of factors.
Looking back, some cheese factories, creameries, milk products facilities in business during the mid-1950s, were as follows:
Milk Condensery in Neillsville – owned and operated by American Stores Dairy Co., a large food chain of the East. Manager of the plant was Morris Blodgett.
Catlin Corners Cheese Factory – located east of Loyal on Hwy. 98, was owned and operated by the Gordon Randts. Amongst the first to modernize equipment for accepting bulk milk, they made cheddar and Colby cheese.
Chili Milk Pool Co-op – owned and operated by local farmers with Harold Geldernick as general manager.
Clark County Central Cheese Factory – was owned and operated by Clarence Liebzeit. It was an efficient plant that produced 40 pound blocks of cheddar.
Dorchester Cheese Factory – Produced Colby cheese by Fred and Jerome Reynolds and Cliff Wetterau
Cloverdale Cheese Factory, Colby – with 40 years of cheese making experience, Walter Rindfleisch operated the large operation during the ‘40s and ‘50s, producing cheddar with the help of his wife, who did the bookkeeping.
Dill Creek Factory – making cheddar, was owned by Laurence Hoernke
Foremost – Blue Moon Cheese, Inc. - a subsidiary of Foremost Dairies, Inc. with headquarters in Thorp; manufactured cheese specialties and assembled natural cheeses.
Greenwood Milk Products Co-op – a cheddar operation was owned by neighboring farmers.
Hediger’s Dairy – owned and operated by Herman Hediger, was engaged in spray-drying of whole milk. It was the first Wisconsin dairy plant to install the Lo-Temp process in producing milk powder.
Hemlock Cheese Factory – a rural Greenwood cheddar factory was operated by Richard Ashbeck.
Lone Oak Cheese Factory – a cheddar operation of rural Withee, owned by Walter Emerson
Longwood Cheese Factory – located at Longwood Community, owned by R. J. Cooper of Marshfield and managed by Lewis Gehrke, produced cheddar.
Marathon-Clark Co-op, Dairy Assoc. – located in Abbotsford, made cheddar and was owned and operated by area farmers.
Neillsville Dairy – milk distributor in Neillsville, also was a maker of ice cream and operated a dairy bar. It had been owned by H. H. Quicker and was sold to Dan Patey in 1958.
Neillsville Milk Products Co-op. – large plant in Neillsville was owned by about 500 area farmers, produced dried milk powder, and Pine Valley sweet cream butter. Manager was B. H. Crissinger
North Hendren Co-op. Cheese Factory – made cheddar cheese and in mid ‘50s was farmer owned. (North Hendren still operates)
Owen Dairy Co. – a large cheddar operation also produced some Italian cheese, was owned and operated by H. F. Gripentrog, Jr.
Pleasant Ridge Cheese Factory – of rural Greenwood, owned by E. O. Franz, made cheddar.
Riplinger Cheese Factory – a subsidiary of Swift and Co., operated by Pauly Cheese Co. that made cheddar
Timothy Belt Cheese and Dairy Factory – near Thorp, made cheddar and distributed milk. It was owned by Walter A. Reinke
Western Condensing Co. – of Owen, made milk powder and sugar from whey collected from a substantial area. It was a subsidiary of Foremost Dairies, Inc.
White House Milk Co. – a large plant at Abbotsford, collected large volumes of milk to produce evaporated milk under A&P food stores label.
John Wuethrich Creamery Co. – a pioneer plant which went on to expand into a major butter producing, supplying a market throughout the United States. Founded by John Wuethrich, later promoted by sons, John D and Allen, and now grandson Dallas
Cloverleaf Cheese Factory – near Stanley, was owned by Norman Western, then Walter Murphy, made barrel cheese.
East Pleasant Ridge Dairy – Hwy 10, Neillsville; Walter Reber made Swiss cheese, later Craig Asplin made cheddar and Italian
Elmdale Cheese Factory – operated by Walter Rasmussen, made cheddar
Four Corners Cheese Factory – on Hwy 29, Curtiss, Hilarion Riedel made cheddar
Hillside Dairy - of Stanley, produced cheddar by its owner, Leo Biel
Hoffman Dairy – Hwy 29, Thorp, processed and retailed milk in Clark County, was owned by the Harley Hoffman family.
Kasper Cheese Factory – making cheddar and Colby, was operated by the Kasper family for many years.
Laabs Cheese Co. – with plants at Willard and Curtiss, also provided cheese storage and retail service, owned by the Laabs Bros.
Lombard Dairy – rural Thorp, was owned and operated by J. N. Biser who made cheddar
Lone Pine Cheese – east of Thorp, owned and operated by J. N. Biser, made cheddar
Mandel’s Cheese Factory – thought to be the factory to make the first real modern Colby cheese produced by Ernst Mandel, first produced in 1908.
North Star Cheese Factory – owned and operated by Vern T. Mech, who was a licensed cheese grader as well as prize-winning cheese maker, packaged and paraffined small styles of cheese ready for distribution.
Oakland Cheese Factory – produced two and five pound loaves of Colby and cheddar under the operation of the Gordon H. Munson’s at the factory’s site near Curtiss.
Pleasant View Dairy – north of Loyal on “K”, was under the ownership of the Edward Millers. They produced cheddar and later barrel cheese.
Reseburg Cheese Factory – near Thorp, operated by the Casmer Boyarski’s, also had a retail store with the cheese factory.
Schilling’s Cheese – located along Hwy 13 near Abbotsford, was started by E. A. Schilling, who relocated when his Thorp area building was destroyed by a June 1958 tornado.
Schlinsog Dairy – located in a large milk-producing area, south of Loyal, was run by the Harry Schlinsog family and discontinued operation by a son, Ted, in recent years.
South Grant Cheese Factory – a long-established business, on Hwy 10, was run by the Walter Schmidt’s in the ‘50s. They also had a retail cheese shop with the factory.
Stewart Cheese Corp. – Greenwood – a large plant specializing in Italian Cheese as well as cheddar.
White Birch Cheese Factory – owned by the Joe Gubeli’s
Wild Cherry Factory – north of Thorp, operated by Laura Natzke after the death of her husband. Her four sons joined with their efforts in getting the work done.
York Center Cheese Factory – established operations in Town of York’s early years. L. B. Gunia rebuilt the plant in the early ‘50s.
York Dairy – Formerly known as the Breseman plant, was purchased by the John Mullins. They made a rind-less cheddar which they also packaged.
Many of the above business are no longer in existence, a sign of changing times. But, we who live here still enjoy and eat our favorite choices of good Wisconsin made cheeses.
Eaton Center Cheese Factory, farmer owned, was operated by the Herman Kalkofen family after they moved to Eaton Center in 1911. Kalkofen purchased the factory in 1932 and continued making cheese there until his death in 1935. After his death, the business was continued by his widow and family until March 1940, when the factory burned. (Photos courtesy of Eva [Kalkofen] Christie)
Herman Kalkofen in the Eaton Center Cheese Factory which was located on the northwest corner of Hwy 73 and County Road 26; the photo was taken in 1932.
Francis Scherer and Herbert Quimbly (Kalkofen’s nephew) trained for cheese making at Kalkofen’s Eaton Center factory. After their apprenticeship, both went to other factories working in careers as cheese makers.
The Spokeville Cheese Factory as it appeared in the ‘20s when it was owned and operated by Gus Voigt. Voigt, as many cheese makers of that time, had taken a short course class offered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduating as a licensed cheese and butter maker. (Photos courtesy of Alan and Jim Voigt)
Gus Voigt and brother-in-law, Ernest Fisher at the Spokeville Cheese Factory: Voigt later worked as a cheese maker at the Pelsdorf Cheese Factory (later Schlinsog’s) and Catlin Corner’s Cheese Factory. Two of his brothers, Adolph and Carl, were also licensed cheese makers. Adolph owned and operated the Globe Factory on County “G”, now the building of Hoppa’s Corner Bar; the Day Corners Factory, south of Neillsville on Hwy 95 and now Jeff’s Roadside; the Star Factory, now Lynn Cheese Factory.
Additional Information (Clark Co., WI Cheese Factories)
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs