Bethel Maine History – The Bethel Journals
1892 - The Bethel Dairying Company
“The Bethel Butter Factory”
Updated: May 30, 2014
Before 1892, dairy farmers in the Bethel area did not enjoy the same kind of marketing middle-man that the beef farmers enjoyed through the buying agency of John Philbrook. In 1891 and possibly at the initiative of Samuel B. Twitchell, efforts to form a dairy co-operative and central creamery (butter making plant) began. Twitchell, a dairy farmer himself, had held about every public office there was except to represent the area in Congress. In other words he got around. Practically all of the towns south of Bethel had butter factories supported by the town’s dairy farmers. So, in early 1892, steps to form a dairy association took concrete form.
February 2, 1892: A movement is on foot to start a butter factory here. Over $2,000 has already been pledged and the full amount required will be easily obtained.
February 9, 1892: The necessary amount of money for a butter factory has been pledged and now all that remains to make this industry a success is the pledge from the farmers that they will keep the number of cows sufficient to furnish cream.
February 16, 1892: Our people are all interested in the proposed creamery which seems to be a sure thing now. It will be located at Bethel Hill. A meeting of the signers of the articles of association executed for the purposes of organizing a corporation for carrying on a dairying business at Bethel will be held at the lock-up in Bethel Hill village Saturday, Feb. 27th – they will adopt an association name and by-laws.
March 15, 1892: Parties are now canvassing the Bethel area for cows for the butter factory. Quite a number of cows have been pledged. The factory is to have the capacity to handle the cream of 1,000 cows and 500 must be pledged before the company will proceed. The contract with the patrons contains a clause to the effect that whenever the subscribers shall organize into an association for conducting the business and will guarantee a certain per cent annually invested, then the company shall turn to such association, etc. leaving it all in the hands of the farmers.
West Bethel: S.B. Twitchell is canvassing this part of town in the interest of the prospective butter factory. He doubts success in securing enough cows. (Twitchell, who lived in Mayville, became a long time president of the association.)
June 21, 1892: West Bethel: The butter factory is said to be a sure thing in this town. The required pledge of 500 cows to supply the enterprise has been reached.
July 21, 1892 Bethel: Preliminary work of the Bethel Dairying Company has started and the butter factory seemed to be an assured thing.
August 9, 1892: The Bethel Dairying Company purchased a lot from A. Ward on Church Street (below the Gould Academy athletic field) where Benjamin Bryant is at work putting in the foundation for their (butter) factory.
October 11, 1892: Bethel: Machinery is being installed at the new butter factory. Many of our farmers are buying creamers (separators). A fine building has been erected and it is hoped that this industry will be in operation soon.
October 18, 1892: West Bethel: Farmers are investing in Cooley creamers (cream separators) preparatory to furnishing cream for the Bethel butter factory which is scheduled to start up November 1st.
October 25, 1892: The factory is completed and machinery in process of being installed. It will be ready for operation next week. 500 cows (from neighboring farms) have been secured to furnish cream.
November 8, 1892: Mason: Farmers were getting ready to furnish cream for the (butter) factory (in Bethel). Several have bought Cooley creamers. West Bethel: The four inches of snow that fell last Wednesday brings all the young cattle home from the back pastures. Some (farmers) are waiting to shift their young cattle for cows to furnish cream for the butter factory which is about to open in Bethel.
November 15, 1892: The butter factory has started operations. Not so many cows are represented now as there will be later. We dropped into the Bethel butter factory and found everything in running condition. The finest of butter is manufactured here and sent away. The farmers seemed pleased that they can dispose of their cream at satisfactory prices and obtain money for it. Mr. Tilton is the manager of the butter factory. He has moved into the house on Park Street recently vacated by C.H. Adams. Mason: The cream gatherer for the Bethel (butter) factory has commenced to gather cream in this town and vicinity.
November 29, 1892: Praise for the butter factory: The butter factory is turning out some butter that is pleasing to both the eye and the palate. This factory is a grand thing for this section. Mason: Cows seem to be what we want here now; we are interested in the butter factory in Bethel. Albany: The creamery gatherer of the Bethel butter factory makes two trips per week to Albany. The farmers in the south part of the town sell to the Waterford creamery.
December 6, 1892: Albany: Abel Andrews of Albany is collecting cream for the Bethel butter factory.
December 20, 1892: Mr. Tilton is the manager of the Bethel Dairying Company. He came here from the butter factory at Buckfield. He is credited with the factory turning out some of the finest butter. West Bethel: The fine butter made at the Bethel butter factory from the cream of these farms is creating an interest among the farmers in that direction. We understand that the butter factory cannot keep up with the demand for its fine product.
April 1897 News - W.K. Hamlin of Waterford has leased the Bethel Creamery building for a term of years. He has an enviable reputation as one of the best butter factory managers in New England.
May 1897-The Bethel Creamery: W.K. Hamlin from South Waterford took possession of the Bethel creamery on May 1. He has successfully managed the creamery in South Waterford for the past five years. He has met with the patrons of the Bethel creamery in Pattee’s Hall to explain his operating procedures and what must be done to improve the prices producers will get for their butter. High production and high quality must be maintained if we are to be competitive. Our inability to operate the separator system efficiently due to our sparsely populated districts from which the cream is gathered is a major problem to overcome.
Butter Factory – standing in the left rear.
Building in foreground is Crockett’s Garage
Yellow push pin marks the place where the Bethel Butter Factory once stood.
In 1904, the Bethel News described the Bethel Creamery on Church Street near Railroad Street as follows:
It was established about a dozen years ago and operated by the Bethel Dairying Company which was reorganized last May (1903) with the following officers: Samuel B. Twitchell, president (Mr. Twitchell photo left) ; E. L. Bradford of Auburn, treasurer; Chester Wheeler, manager.
Mr. Goodwin R. Wiley who lives only a short distance from the Creamery on Church Street was one of the original stockholders of the Bethel Dairying Company, and its clerk until it became the Bethel Creamery Company.
This institution is of much real value to the farmers living within a radius of fifteen miles, as it pays cash for what cream they can produce and deliver at the factory, and it also gives the village people and opportunity to obtain at reasonable prices, the purest and best of cream and butter. The Creamery is equipped with a water power churn, with the capacity of producing two hundred pounds of butter at each churning, with an average of three churnings per day.
A portion of the product is molded into pound cakes, neatly stamped and wrapped in paraffin paper. That not intended for home consumption is packed in boxes and crates for shipment. Connected with the Creamery is a model refrigerator and an ice house, with a sufficient capacity for the use of the Creamery, and the supply of town patrons, during the summer season. This Company is also agent for and dealer in neat stock and poultry medicinal preparations the product of Our Husbands Manufacturing Co. of Lyndon, Vt. These are very highly recommended by poultry keepers, dairy men and stock raisers all over the country.
It also takes orders for the Common Sense Calf Feeder put out b y the same company. Any practical person will on inspection, see the value of this devise, which Mr. Wheeler will be pleased to show. Mr. Wheeler, manager of the Creamery is an experienced dairyman, and holds a certificate for competency in testing cream by the Babcock system, the result of practical knowledge acquired at the University of Maine.
Sources for this article came from the Oxford County weekly news papers and the 1904 Special Illustrated edition of the Bethel News.
The Bethel Journals
Donald G. Bennett
PO Box 763
Bethel, Maine 04217