BLACKFOOT — The other day my friend Berniece Hoskins called me and said, “I have a question for you. Did a long time ago, we have a creamery that people took their cream to? My folks had a a small milk can and it was called, the cream bucket.”
Well, guess what! There was a creamery! In my family, we had a Jersey cow and her name was Sue Snowflake Murdock. She gave lots of milk and mom would put it in pans in the cellar so the cream would come to the top. Mom would skim it off, put it in a cleaned lard bucket with a handle, and I would walk to the Blackfoot Creamery. Both my family and her family [Berniece’s] did it for the same reason ... we traded our cream for eggs and butter.
It is interesting about what people in those days felt about butter. There were two kinds of butter: “creamery butter” and the more expensive, “ranch butter”. It was explained for the creamery butter that they take the milk fresh from the cows and remove the butterfat by means of a separator and said it is churned while sweet and fresh and never exposed to odors that might be absorbed by coming in contact with vegetables or anything that might reduce the excellence of the flavor.
The separator gets all of the butterfat out of the milk, which cannot be done by letting the cream set and rise in the pans and the use of ice for this purpose is quite expensive.
Where different persons churn and work the butter it is not of uniform color and varies in quality and merchants find difficulty in handling the mixed product, but by handling the milk in a creamery these difficulties are alleviated.
Then, too, creameries brand each roll of butter, which is a guarantee to the merchant and to the consumer and it can be returned to the proper source if not satisfactory. A creamery in a community makes a steady cash market for dairy products and enables the farmer to use his hay, grain, and some kinds of vegetables on his own farm at a profit.
It gives farmers employment at home. And if a hundred families furnish milk for a creamery, it saves a hundred housekeepers the work of looking after a hundred cream jars, a hundred butter ladles and molds, and a thousand milk pans.
The creamery simplified the work and gets more cream and butter from the same milk. The committeemen who are looking after the creamery interests here report “substantial progress, and much interest is being shown by the community.”
A meeting was held March 7, 1898 at 1 p.m. at Blackfoot for the purpose of organizing a creamery company and all who may feel any interest in the establishing of the interest of the important industry requested to be present.
After the usual formalities of the March 7 organizational and stockholder meeting, the board was adjourned and the board of directors held an executive session. Isaac Erickson was elected president; B.A. Trego, secretary; and Dr. J.. W. Givens. Treasurer. Other board members were L.M. Capps, W.A. Sample, and H.P. Christensen. They discussed the different types of work to be taken up and adjourned until the following Friday.
President Erickson informed the news that without unexpected trouble and delay, the creamery would be in operation within the next 30 days. They were looking for suitable building to rent in town. A permanent site could be selected later near the Snake River.
The latter part of March Mr. Jones wrote, “Before May Day, all of Blackfoot will be using the creme de la creme of creamery butter and all from its own creamery. How appetizing the thought.”
Being a city girl, I could never figure out how the separator was so smart to separate the cream from the milk. My sister-in-law, Erma Bird Bates, a country girl (now deceased), explained the following : “The warmed milk was strained into the cream separator each morning and right after the cows were milked. Then the handle was turned just at the right speed. The speed was most important because if you turned too fast there was a vast quantity of cream, hardly richer than the milk. If you went too slow, the stream coming out of the “cream spout” was thick and very rich, but hardly big enough to see. Turning the separator took a practiced hand. I loved to take my turn, but not for long because I would get out of breath.”
“The cream was put in a cool place, usually down in the cellar, to cool thoroughly before being poured into the cream can with the other cream. Everything had to be washed and it was a very unpopular job. When it was cool weather they could run hot water through it at night, but in the morning it had to be all taken apart and washed in good soapy water. The milk pails, strainer, and separator had to be washed right after it was used. You had to be sure that every one of the dozens of thin, metal, steel disks were washed individually and replaced in the right order. (Each had a number on it) or the separator wouldn’t do its work properly next time.
“After everything was washed and scalded they were left to dry. Just before milking time, all the pieces were put back in their proper place, ready to separate for the next milking.”
Erma also said, “The making of butter is fun, if the temperature of the cream was just right, but in the hot summer days, sometimes, it would take a long time for the butter to come.”
The Bingham County Historical Society Museum has a cream separator, butter molds and a butter churn displayed for people to view among other relics of the past at 190 North Shilling.
Lee Herbst of Lee’s Amoco reports that the Blackfoot Creamery used to be next to his business on NW Main Street.