(Editorial Note: Part 206 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Preston Booster, 1912; Franklin County Citizen, 1913-1946,1971; Life story of John A. Morrison; Images of America, Preston, by Necia Seamons.)
Judging from the early newspapers published in southeastern Idaho around the turn of the 20th Century there was a consistent flow of information for those striving to make a go of farming in this relatively unsettled part of the nation. Some of those men were ‘city folks’ who were clueless about the hardship of life on a farm with livestock.
In print there were various bits of information on the subject of taking care of dairy cows, the need for harvesting hay in the proper season, irrigation, fencing, etc., things that would later seem quite simple. With distances between the nearest neighbors, most families had at least one milk cow to provide for the milk consumption of their own families. Families churned their own butter. Places to market those dairy products were few.
“The first evaporated milk in Cache Valley was produced on March 15, 1904, in Richmond at the Sego Milk company plant. The plant was constructed under the direction of J. B. Rachliff of Corinna, Maine. Later in the same year, another evaporated milk plant was started in Logan.” Some years later in 1928, the Sego Milk Company started a plant in Preston and farmers could deliver their surplus milk to that plant. ”Originally a receiving and pasteurizing station, it was soon converted to produce butter and powdered milk… Before its construction, milk was taken to a condensing plant in Franklin, until it closed in 1922.”
Listed under the heading of Professional Cards in 1912, the classified ads version of that time, is the Commercial Cream Company, stating that they were cash buyers of cream as well as the headquarters for Empire Separators and other dairy supplies.
A competitor for the cream business was R. C. Peterson, an agent for the Crescent Creamery Company of Butte, Montana, claiming to pay the best price for cream and various grains. These items Peterson would ship by railroad to the nearest processor for the Crescent Creamery. Peterson stated, “Give us a trial before someone starts ‘kickin your dawg around.’”
From the early days of settlement the 1860’s to the 1920’s each farmer rustled for himself to find a market for any surplus dairy products he might have from his farm, milk, butter, cream. Each farmer would separate each milking, save the cream, and the cream would be hauled to Preston once a week. Around the 1920’s some of the smaller communities formed creamery companies of their own and the members would combine their cream, test it to ensure its worth and deliver it to one of the creamery companies in Preston, getting a higher price than what they had been getting as individuals.
The first locally established dairy that catered to the public, as advertised in the Franklin County Citizen of 1913, was the Riverside Dairy Company. The proprietors were Mecham & Tolman. They would deliver fresh milk, cream, butter and eggs to individual households in town. All that was needed was a phone call to order and the milk wagon would call in the early hours of the morning, providing needed ingredients for the making of breakfast.
The newspapers featured agricultural columns. Writers gave both encouragement and knowledge. “ An exchange hit the nail squarely on the head in the following comment: ‘The creamery has brought many a farm up from the give away price to the $100 an acre mark and then had the gratitude of being told that the farmer had no use for it. ‘
“A milk pail that has received a wipe, and a lick , and a milk can that is in the same condition, cannot be excused. Soap and hot water are cheap, washing soda cheaper still and far better than soap, and no dairy man’s time is so precious that he cannot afford to provide clean milk utensils. All this is practical, common, everyday cleanliness, such that anyone has a right to ask of a place where human food is produced, and it is imposing no hardship on the patron.”
In 1915, the author of the Farm Section in the newspaper was John Alfred Morrison, editor, county agriculturist. Morrison was born in Franklin in 1880 on the Morrison homestead. After serving a mission to the Eastern States he received his degree from the Utah College of Agriculture in 1912. According to his obituary he was the first agricultural agent as well as the first Smith Hughes Agricultural teacher in Franklin County. He taught chemistry in the Preston schools and at Ricks College. He was also the Superintendent of Schools in Franklin County for three terms.
Morrison asked that any and all questions pertaining to the farm should be addressed to the editor in care of this department. He was a strong supporter of the dairy industry and believed in its future for the farmers of Franklin County. A bit of his advice was, “Selling the young heifers that are from the best cows is a move backward in the dairy business.”
To Morrison it was a way of life. “The big objection to the dairy business is that it confines you to home. That ought to be the best place in the world for you. You ought to love it for that if not for any other reason.”