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Wallingford Centennial Committee selling Speltz print

Proceeds will go toward town’s celebration

June 27, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

WALLINGFORD?- The Wallingford Centennial Committee is selling 100 lithograph prints by Armstrong artist J.D. Speltz of the community's first creamery for a fundraiser.

Prints are $35 plus matting and framing and may be purchased by calling any of the following committee members:

n Kris Fay - (712) 260-3245.

Article Photos

Armstrong artist J.D. Speltz created this lithograph. The Wallingford Centennial Committee will be selling 100 prints with the proceeds going toward the town’s celebration.

n Michelle Howing - (712) 209-2965.

n Cindy Bodle (712) 867-4174.

n Jeannie Handeland - (712) 867-4750.

Following is a history of the Wallingford Creamery taken from the History of Emmet County, Iowa Vol. III.

One of the earlier establishments in Emmet County was the Farmers Creamery Company in Wallingford. The purpose of the creamery was to receive and process dairy products from the numerous unit-size farms which kept a dairy herd as part of their farming operation. The beginning in this company dates back to Feb. 13, 1892, when a group of farmers met in the waiting room of the local depot to form a creamery company. Persons present at this meeting and signed the application for Articles of Incorporation were, O.O. Refsell, T.O. Miller, H.K. Groth, P. Larson, P.N. Peterson, Ed. Osher, W.O. Coomes, J.J. Beckwith, Ole Peterson, James Refsell, T.O. Berg, Kreis Bros., N.O. Osher and P.S. Anderson.

Quoting a paragraph taken from the original constitution, reads, "We the undersigned citizens of Wallingford in the County of Emmet and the State of Iowa, do hereby form ourselves into a Company to be known by the name Wallingford Creamery Company, divided into 100 shares of $50 each," "Each of us agree to pay for the number of shares set opposite our name." Even though organized as a stock company, it was truly purported to function as a cooperative; further quotation reads, "The object of this Company is to manufacture butter at actual cost; the milk will be weighed and the product sold, the expense paid out of the gross receipts, the balance to be prorated among the stockholders according to the amount of milk furnished."

In 1910 the first charter was renewed under the same name with capitalization of $10,000, divided into 400 shares of $25 each. Farm-size cream separators had come on the market early in the first decade of the 20th century. This helped to stimulate increased numbers of dairy herds and likewise creamers sprang up in many towns. By 1910, the Wallingford Creamery was enjoying a healthy growth and the future looked bright for the dairy farmers. Then like the calm before a storm, on July 7, 1914 the creamery with all its equipment was destroyed by fire. For the moment it looked like disaster had really struck. Gloom spread over the entire community. The loss, great as it was in dollars and cents, presented also the problem of what to do with the cream when it began to arrive on Wednesday morning deliveries. The venerable J.P. Kennedy, president of the Board of Directors, volunteered a daring solution, so upon the first arrival of cream, he stood in the middle of the street waving with both hands to keep coming with their precious product. With aforethought, Mr. Kennedy had pre-arranged with Mr. J.A. Haring and Frank Irwin to lease a portion of their meat market building as a receiving room on cream delivery days, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Mr. Jensen, the buttermaker, would hire a trucker, wagon and team of horses to deliver the cream to Estherville, where Mr. Jensen did the churning in the factory owned by Spurbeck, Lambert &

Company. The receiving building in Wallingford was later owned by Clark's Hardware & Gas.

Plans for a new creamery structure were made at a special stockholders meeting called for July 17, just 10 days after the fire, the legal time required for calling a meeting. Of the 49 votes cast, 47 voted to rebuild immediately. Plans were laid for a brick structure which from the minutes reads, "It was moved and seconded that the directors be instructed to build and equip a good modern substantial up-to-date creamery with cement floor, brick stack and rebuilding of the ice machine, keeping the cost of the building and equipment as low as possible." This work was carried out to the letter in a most satisfactory manner. The ice machine was relatively new, since to begin with the creamery had been accustomed to cooling and storing butter with ice cut at the nearby lakes during the winter months. The new compressor-type cooler had been installed only six months before the fire occurred. Electric energy did not come to Wallingford until 1919 or 1920 which was not a handicap with the creamery. They needed live steam for sterilization purposes and with a 20 HP boiler they had belt power for the compressor, sterilizing vats, churn and any other machine which required power.

During the 66-year life of the Wallingford Creamery, nine buttermakers were employed. E.W. Reid was the first to be hired, then followed a Mr. Saddler, Ben Lonning, and J.C. Jensen. Mr. Jensen served the creamery 16 years, from 1900 to 1916, then Charles Repien two years until he was called into the armed forces during World War I. Mr. William Helgason was hired November 1918, who gave the creamery its longest service to 1939 or 21 years. The remaining were Gordon Sandvig, Norris Lee and Wallace Grippentrog. The latter saw the consolidation of the Wallingford Creamery, together with many other area creameries, into a large whole-milk processing plant, located at Whittemore, where both butter and dried milk were produced. The sales transaction and the transfer of the property was consummated as of April 1958.

The Wallingford Creamery, like scores of other small creameries that came into being at the beginning of the 20th century, actually was short lived. The reasons ascribed for this short life may vary. Probably the most logical would be to say, the small creamery as we knew them from their beginning until the mid-century, was a continuation of the industrial revolution in America which occurred in the latter part of the 19th century and moved westward to encompass Iowa and her neighboring states.

The dairy herd and the creamery had a profound impact on the economic trend for settlers of the Midwest. They were life-savers during drought seasons, providing a cash income the whole year around. The dairy cow was built to handle great quantities of roughages, such as pasture, hay and fodder from which she produces an abundance of milk, butter, cheese and meat. The dairy cow was rightfully called the mortgage-lifter for a hardworking farmer. This proved justifiably true during the 1930 depression when the chore of daily milking turned out to be golden nuggets like the manna in the wilderness of the Sinai desert.

After the close of World War II in the mid-forties, the Plains states took on a new phase in farming. Two factors which stood out foremost were the shortage of manpower and the greater demand for cereal foods. Tractor power farming was rapidly replacing the horsedrawn equipment which caused farmers to sell their dairy herds and expand their grain production. As this change bore down on the milk production, the consolidation became imperative. The history of the small creamery had lived its course.



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