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Wisconsin Cheese Makers' Association / Proceedings of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers' Association thirty-third annual convention December 10, 11, 12, 1924 assembled in the Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Hubert, W. F.
Early cheese history,   pp. 49-53 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 49

By W. F. HUBERT, Sheboygan, Wis.
In the Program your Secretary stated that this paper was to deal
with some early Wisconsin Cheese history. However, I am going to
start with as early a history of the cheese industry as possible.
In looking over old records, I find that about the year 1775 three
kinds of cheese were made in England, namely: The Cheddar, the
single and double Glouchester and the Wilts. Of these three styles
of cheese the Cheddar was the most famous, being made in the county
of Somerset and taking its name from the small village of Cheddar at
the foot of the Mendip Hills. The name originated from the farmers
of the village uniting the milk of their cows for the purpose of making
a larger cheese. This was done at each other's houses in turn.
Large caves in the Mendip Hills served as excellent curing rooms, and
greatly helped to produce a fine quality product.
The first cheese market was held at Chipperham, England in a,
open court. The cheese were brought in carts, packed loosely in
straw without being boxed, piled on the stone floor and offered for
sale, each lot separately.
About the year 1810, cheese making began in Herkimer County,
N. Y. For about twenty years the progress was slow and the busi-
ness deemed hazardous by the majority of farmers, who were afraid
of over-production. The curds were worked in tubs and pressed in
log presses.
The United States census of 1840 estimated the total value of
cheese, butter and milk for all the states at $33,787,000.
The originator of the American Cheese factory system was Jesse
Williams, a farmer of Rome, N. Y. in 1851, and from this one factory
in 1851, factories increased to 500 in 1866 in the State of New York.
In 1860, Samuel Perry of New York City, a native of Herkimer,
started to contract for cheese and exported same, and to him belongs
the credit of opening up the foreign market. The exportation of
cheese from New York in 1860 was 23,252,000 pounds and increased
to 40,041,000 pounds in 1861. Prior to 1860, Wisconsin was bringing
cheese and butter from New York state for local consumption.
John J. Smith, who came from Lewis County, N. Y. in 1844 and
located on the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Plank Road west of She-
boygan Falls, conceived the idea of commercializing the local cheese
industry, and in 1858 he collected the curd from his neighbors and
pressed it into cheese in his home. Owing to the lack of uniformity
of the curd, this method was not a success and same was abandoned.
It is recorded that when John Smith first exhibited Sheboygan County
cheese in Chicago, the dealers of Chicago would not look at it, so he
offered to pay the dealers for their time if they would examine his
goods. However, he sold his cheese, and it was only a few years later
when Sheboygan County Cheese sold at better prices in Milwaukee
and Chicago than were paid for Ohio and New York State Cheese.

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