Creamery board marks the end of an era

This article submitted by Phyllis Holtz on 4/7/98.

History was made on March 23, 1998. The final meeting of the Paynesville Co-op Creamery Board of Trustees was held at the home of Phyllis Holtz, Litchfield.

The board decided to close the account at the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, Paynesville, since all equities had been paid.

The Paynesville Co-op Creamery was founded in 1888. It was the first creamery in Paynesville and in Stearns County. According to a 1938 newspaper article, when the creamery opened in 1888, there were no separators in operation, so whole milk was received in tall slender cans. The fat content of the milk was arrived at by measurement on the glass gauge on the side of the can.

The creamery was built on land leased from the Soo Line Railroad adjacent to the Paynesville Elevator. The present creamery was built in 1920.

Butter production continued until a large percentage of producers converted to grade ďAĒ milk production. Some producers shipped to Paynesville as a holding station and others shipped directly to First District Association, Litchfield. Grade ďAĒ milk first went to the Watkins Creamery, then to First District.

On April 30, 1980, milk operation ceased, and patrons were encouraged to ship directly to First District. The creamery remained an outlet for butter, ice cream, and other dairy products, as well as animal feeds.

On June 1, 1980, all operations ceased. An auction sale of machinery and other properties took place in April 1981. The building was sold to the Paynesville Elevator. The dispensing of equities was placed with a board of trustees.

At the final annual meeting in 1979, stockholders were directed to turn in their stock to verify ownership. Officers serving on the board at that time were Arlie Voss, president; Harvey Miller, vice-president; Dan Holtz, secretary-treasurer; and directors Ray Utsch and Roger Glenz. George Erickson was the manager and Myrtle Hoeft, bookkeeper.

These same directors composed the first board of trustees. Roger Glenz is the only remaining original member. Glenz appointed Phyllis Holtz as secretary and Bob Heitke as director.

As equities were paid to the Paynesville account from Land OíLakes and First District Association, payments were made to stockholders. The final payment was made on March 3, 1997 to 220 stockholders. A total of $125,254 was paid out. After all equities and bills were paid, there remained $89 which was donated to the John Brandt Memorial Foundation as directed by a board motion made years earlier.

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