A creamery? I didn’t know Hatfield had a creamery. The embossed company stamp notes the company was established in 1880, and the share is dated and signed on Aug. 25, 1880. A little Internet searching turned up a record that said the company was no longer operating as of March 1892. But what of the time in between?
As always, Wells’ A History of Hatfield in Three Parts (1670-1910), easily searched on Google Books, comes through. According to Wells (p. 236), “In 1878 a creamery was established which did a prosperous business for about eight years. It was in the house now owned and occupied by George Saffer. The managers were Webster A. Pease, John W. Jackson, and Nathaniel T. Abels, in that order. Jonathan D. Porter was president of the company and Joseph S. Wells, secretary.” And there’s Porter and Wells on the certificate – though I couldn’t quite decipher Porter. (I wonder if Treasurer Wells was related to one of the book's authors?)
While I might have expected to find mention in that Bible of Hatfield history, I didn’t expect to find anything in the Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics of Nebraska, put out by the Nebraska Dept. of Labor. According to their 1896 report, under the heading of “Co-operative Creameries," there were 10 “co-operative” creameries doing business in Massachusetts in 1886, Hatfield being one of them, with shares worth $60 (a nice jump over the $25 share value at the company’s start six years before).
“The great reason for starting a creamery,” the NE Dept. of Labor explained, “was to furnish a steady market to the farmers for their milk,” but they note that the institution, understandably, was not welcomed by all the milkmen.
The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 85, 1900, (p. 542) does more than just mention Hatfield’s creamery; it credits it with the first creamery in New England in 1879, and with the help of Henry E. Alvord, chief of the Dairy Division of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, with getting cooperative dairying started in New England!
“It [the Hatfield Co-operative Creamery Co.] became operative the following year, and was swift to demonstrate its fitness to be recognized as a pioneer in an important field of economic endeavor.”
Just another example of how a quiet, unobtrusive artifact can lead us down the path of history -- opening doors, raising questions, broadening what we know and care about.
If you find any paperwork or other artifacts relating to the Hatfield Co-operative Creamery that you don’t know what to do with, think of us! Like, I’m wondering what happened to the company stamp? And did they have their own printed bottles?