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Dairying In The West

The second group of pioneers arriving in Salt Lake Valley in September, 1847, brought with them several hundred cows. It is believed that a number of good breeding stock were developed from this herd. In the spring of 1848, several hundred cows were purchased in California. Between the years 1865 and 1885 there were a number of purebred dairy cattle shipped into Salt Lake County. As a result of the foundation stock and many other importations, Utah has gradually built up the dairy industry until today it ranks high in the United States. Many fine herds rep resenting the principal dairy breeds - Holstein, Jersey and Guernsey are found in Utah.

In the Salt Lake City Second Ward. The location of the Second Ward was ideal for the dairying business. It was in the southeast section of the city as it was first laid out by the pioneers. This part of the city was low and in the springtime and in wet seasons the water was near the surface of the ground. Vegetation grew in abundance in those early days and the grass at times was so high that the cattle were hard to find. These conditions provided feed in abundance which was necessary for making dairying profitable. The pioneers took advantage of these conditions and started one of their most thriving industries.

Among the first pioneers to settle in the Second Ward was a group of people who were in the Ira Eldredge's Company and arrived in the Valley the 19th of September, 1847. They brought with them a herd of cattle, also horses and sheep. They drew their lots which were situated in the Northeast Block of the Second Ward, better known as Gallacher Block. Among this group were the Bingham Brothers who drove their cattle into a canyon southeast of the city, now Bingham Canyon. One brother Sandford, and his wife, Martha A. Lewis Bingham, spent their summers in the canyon and their winters with Martha's brother, John M. Lewis, who was living in the Second Ward.

Martha says that while crossing the plains, they put their surplus milk and cream in a churn and tied it on the back of the wagon in the morning before starting on the day's journey; then the butter was ready for their supper when they camped at night. The milk business among these families consisted in sharing with the neighbor or exchanging it for other necessities. These pioneers did not remain in the Second Ward many years. The Bingham Brothers went to Weber County where they continued with stock raising and dairying. John M. Lewis was among the first to settle in Mesa, Arizona.

It was not until the pioneers arrived from the Scandinavian countries with their practical knowledge of caring for milk and its products that dairying became a commercial industry in the Second Ward district.

Each family soon secured one cow, which provided milk for their own use and perhaps some to sell to a neighbor. As soon as they were able to get the second cow they started to sell in other parts of the city and became regular dairymen or "milkmen." From these small beginnings many large and successful dairies started.

The dairymen usually kept their cows in corrals in the same lot where they lived. Their pasture land was outside of the city limits or below Ninth South. The care given to the dairy herds in that early day was similar to that of the present day. Different kinds of hay was mixed and chopped that the cows should have a variety of food. Bran and shorts were made into a warm mash and fed in the winter. In the summer malt was brought from the brewery and mixed with salt and fed to the cows. Before milking, the cows were cleaned off and the bag or udder was washed to insure clean milk. After the milking was finished the milk was strained into cans, and was then ready to be delivered to the customers. Delivery of the milk was made twice each day in the summer, as there was no way to cool and keep it fresh through the heat of the day. In the winter once a day was all that was necessary. In the beginning of the dairying business the milk was carried to the customer in a covered bucket and measured out with a cup. A little later the milk can came into use. Milk was sold for 20 cents a gallon and 5 cents a quart.

After the cows were milked each morning, they were turned out to feed on the grass that grew along the streets and in the open fields. They were watched or herded by the young boys in the family. The boys would take their lunch and stay all day and bring the cows home at milking time at night.

As time passed with the thrift and hard work of these pioneers, they were able to get materials about them to help them with their milk business such as a light wagon and mule or horse with which they delivered their milk to their customers. When this work was done by the boys they often shared with each other the use of their horse and wagon. First one boy would use his wagon for one day and then another the next, and so on until they all took their turn. The milk was delivered up town to the hotels and restaurants, also to many pcople whose work was such that they could not care for cows of their own.

As their business increased it became necessary to find ways and means to enlarge their equipment. It was then that the milk can came into use. The tinners were called to make the cans and cups that were used by the milkmen for many years. They were made in different sizes: 1, 2, or 5 gallon cans. The cups were made in the quart size with graduated marks for smaller amounts. Some of the lids to the cans were made to be used as measuring cups, as the part inserted into the top of the can was made deep enough, and became a quart cup with the graduated marks.

The tin smith in the Second Ward was H. Mitchel, who had made the cans and cups for the milkmen of this district. Among those dairy men were some who were remarkable veterinarians for that early day; they recognized the ailments of their cattle and knew the best method for treating them. They also gave their services freely to those in the community who did not have this understanding. Day or night, when these men were called to help in an emergency, they often saved the life of some animal that was a necessary part of the neighbor's livelihood. One man especially with this remarkable understanding was Soren Iverson, who had his dairy at 7th South and 3rd East.

To these men, dairying was their life's work and their profession. Their entire time was devoted to the work. From this work they made their living, built their homes and educated their children. In some cases their sons were sent upon missions and kept there by the money that came from the father's milk business.

The Second Ward was made up of nine square blocks. On each block there were one or more dairies. The people living in this section usually sold their surplus milk to those engaged in the dairy business. In that way the dairying business affected all those living in the boundary of the Second Ward. The following names are among the list of those who owned dairies in this section of the city: Soren Iverson, Bishop Samuel Peterson, James Hansen, Ludvig Christenson, Samuel Smith, George K. Reese, James Johnson, James Jenson, William Husser, George Pope, Soren Jenson, Anton Marker and Peter Nelson. - Vilate Lewis Elggren.


Heart Throbs Of The West

Kate B. Carter

Volume 5, Pages 353-355


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