During the turn of the century, when Roseau county was in its infancy, many of the early settlers had a few dairy cows. They soon discovered an abundant supply of good grazing and hay meadows. As their herds grew, there came a demand for marketing their surplus butter. They were bringing their home churned butter to merchants for groceries, merchandise, or cash. The merchant would then rework, salt, and color and pack in containers until they had enough for shipment. Olaf Holdahl said to himself that “he was the first buttermaker as in his store he bought butter and it was his duty to rework it and pack it.” Soon a few farmers began to organize to build creameries where they could bring their cream to be sold turned into butter and shipped to markets in the East.
The North Star Creamery in Badger was built in 1902 and was perhaps the first such in Roseau county. It was steam-powered with wood and water. The first operator manager was Olaf Stomsvik. Then came Mr. Larson, Ira Ellington, Olaf Gustafson, who was there 42 years, Leonard Larson, and Frank Randall, who was the last operator before the creamery was closed and the building sold to Land ‘o lakes in 1971.
The Greenbush Farmers Cooperative Creamery was organized in 1904 by Ole Hereim, Carl Heltne, C.J. Dahl, and Torjus Lundwall with 18 charter members. The building and equipment cost $2,200 and began operation on May 29, 1905. Andrew Benson was the first buttermaker making $40 a month. A new creamery was later built in 1925 opposite the depot for $20,000. In 1927 a new and more considerable churn was installed. They also went into the feed and ice cream and egg buying. In 1944 they started buying whole milk, so three milk trucks and a garage had to be added. In 1947, milk bottling equipment and local delivery service began.
They built a fertilizer plant in 1969, which they still have, but the creamery was sold to Land ‘o lakes in 1971 closed a year later. The managers and churnmen were R.V. Anderson, Richard Huggett, Gordon Sillerud, Paul Lundmark, Wendell Swan, Ernest Johnson, and Gordon Anderson.
In 1907 the Wannaska Creamery Association was started by farmers in the community. They hired Chris Thoen as the first operator. Unfortunately, the entire building burned in 1921 but was rebuilt the same year. They also added a warehouse and started a feed business. In 1934 they added an oil station with August Olson as manager. The following served as operators of the creamery until it closed in 1978 R.V. Anderson, Walter Peterson, Alton Strandlie, CliffordSkime, Harlan Hams, Ole Fladeland, Duane Torfin, Arnold Lanes, and Dwayne Edberg.
Little is known about the Strathcona Co-Operative Creamery. It opened for business in 1908. At one point in time, it had closed but reopened under the management of Herman Spjut. Also, known H.C. Elseth was a buttermaker there in the 1930s. In 1948 the stockholders voted to sell the creamery and liquidate the assets of their association. The Strathcona Creamery quit business several years before when the going became difficult. The area had slowly transformed from dairying to grain farming, which played havoc with the creamery.
The Ross Co-Operative Creamery was one of the first commercial buildings in Ross. It was built in 1907. In 1910, the board of directors was E.D. Brovold, G. Braaten, Edward Erickson, and M Erickson at their annual meeting. Anton Stomsvik was a buttermaker. In 1930, the association built a warehouse to accommodate the growing feed business. In 1933 a new and modern creamery was built. This creamery was closed in 1961. Ned Dunham had been a butter maker for several years, as Bill Lindahl before him.
In 1905 some farmers started plans for a creamery in Roseau. It was a long frame structure located on the bank of the Roseau River just East of the fairgrounds at a point known as Pelcher’s Crossing. The first butter maker was August Holmberg. This building became inadequate with the increase in dairying, so the board accepted a gift of land on highway 11 from S.T. Holdahl and built a brick building there in 1923 at the cost of $14000. The creamery made many expansions and equipment purchases to keep up with the growing industry. Refrigeration machinery and buttermilk dryer were added in 1929; a produce building in 1933; a milk pasteurization department in 1936 and a modernized retail milk department; and a butter box printer in 1950. The association added another addition to the creamery (1955), and a new produce building (1956) was added to replace the old one. During the 1950s, farmers were going into bulk milk storage tanks, so bulk milk trucks owned by the creamery drove to farms and hauled milk. Before that, farmers brought in their milk and cans. Many farmers went to Grade A milk production at this time.
The Land O lakes milk drying plant started operating on November 1, 1945, with A.O. Standlie as operator. Roseau Coop. Creamery sold their skim milk there until it closed in 1960. By this time, the creamery needed more space, so they bought the drying plant from Land O Lakes and moved their operations there on highway 89 in 1962. They operated there until 1972, when the farmers sold their business to Land O’Lakes. Following Homberg, the creamery managers were Charles Olson, William Lindahl, J.W. Standlie, Richard Huggett, Clifford Skime. The last board members were Albert Brandt, Chester Snow, Curtis Skrutvold, Sheldon Erickson, Jerome Miller, Robert Brinkman, and Art Amundson. In addition, the Roseau Creamery had
three churnmen who were named State Buttermaking Champions: Clifford Sime (1953), Oscar Nelson (1966), and Roland Wold (1970).
As early as 1903, a need for a creamery was recognized in Warroad. The Warroad Co-operative Creamery Association was formed in 1908. The creamery, a small-framed building, was created along the Warroad River and opened on June 1, 1909. On October 12, 19019 the creamery burned down but was rebuilt soon after.
In December 1911, the Lake of the Woods Creamery Association was organized to succeed the Warroad Creamery Company listed board members were T.H. Roundy, T.J. McCagherty, J.W. Person, Thomas Lawson, Wm. Boox, N. E. Nelson, B.Bo. Hamlin, M.N. Landin, and Ambrose Engle. A month later the association was leased to Lou Bueche and Charles Braf (B&B).
Local farmers in the eastern portion of the county organized the cooperative association, Warroad Co-operative Creamery Association in April 1923. As dairying increased, the board decided to build a modern brick building, it was in operation by 1931. The first board members were Harry Sanders, Elmer Brandli, E.F. Kennetz, Adolf Olson, Bert Myers, Martin Landby, and William Gould. Fred Schultz was the manager,
followed by Emil Schultz and Carroll Hanson. Finally, Leonard Bloom was the churnman. The Warroad Co-operative Creamery ceased operations in 1971.
All 7 Roseau County creameries formed the Roseau County Creamery Association peris association. In addition, many organizations were influential in helping the farmers and managers produce top-quality products: Northwest Breeders, cow testing programs, Red River Valley Dairy Shows, Dairy Days, Dairy Processors Inc., Dairy and Food inspectors, and Land o lakes incorporated and participation in the merit many dairy products contests.
Written by Clifford Skime
References Roseau County Heritage Book, Northland Book, Warroad Creamery 1903 to 1971 by Heather Comstock, and Strathcona Heritage