By Kris Leonhardt
The property, now home to Marshfield’s Foremost Farms facilities, began as a single family dairy farm, owned by August and Augusta Schrage. August, a German immigrant, was also employed by the Roddis Lumber Company & Veneer Company.
On a Sunday evening in 1922, August left his home at 9 p.m. to do a few hours of work at the Roddis plant. When his wife awoke at 11:30 p.m., she found her husband’s coat but could not locate August.
With the help of her sons, Augusta searched the farm, where they found that August had taken his own life. Augusta and her sons struggled through the next years without August, hanging on to the farm until the early 1940s, when Wisconsin Central Railroad purchased a tract of land for development. The Marshfield Industrial Foundation purchased the remainder of the land for future manufacturing progress.
Development came swiftly, when the Foundation sold the property to the Minneapolis-based Land O’Lakes Creamery Company, Inc.
The following year, the Marshfield Board of Public Works zoned the property and some surrounding land as heavy industrial and work began on a 120-foot by 150-foot brick and tile building. The cost was estimated at $225,000, but finished closer to $300,000.
The building was situated facing East Fourth Street and was set back 300 feet from the street.
The facilities included the equipment needed for processing whey and skim milk drying, as well as what was needed to produce butter.
The Marshfield Cooperative Dairymen’s Association rented space in the facilities to make cheese, moving their equipment from their 801 E. Second St. building to the new Land O’Lakes structure at 1511 E. Fourth St. The Second Street building then became a storage facility.
Western Condensing Company also operated a whey condensing plant in the Land O’Lakes structure.
Approximately 500,000 pounds of milk products per day came out of the facilities, sold under the Land O’Lakes brand, including bottled milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream.
In the summer of 1955, the Marshfield Cooperative Dairymen’s Association and Land O’Lakes merged to form Hub Dairy Cooperative. Six of the nine members of the board of directors were farmers themselves, speaking in the best interest of the dairy farmers.
Under the new merger, the goal was to focus mainly on cheese production, but the coop considered working with butter and powdered milk as well – wherever they could get the most bang for their buck.
Next week: Remaining relevant