David Melson

Picturing the Past 65: Cheese on the way

Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010, at 11:46 AM
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  • David, Thanks for another great picture from the past. I am a bit foggy on Bedford Cheese offering delivery, however, I well remember their milk trucks running all over the county and bringing milk to the cheese plant. I also remember the mail order and walk-up business dating back at least to the early 50s and maybe even earlier. Several of the milk trucks traded with us at the Gulf station on the corner of Deery and Depot.

    I think that razyn may have the answers you are looking for about the Shelbyville Harness Company.

    As for Missy's inquiry about other places in the area of the Peacock Lane/Nashville Dirt Road intersection. Back a few years ago before Max Logan died I visited with him a little while and he showed me where the Sulpher Springs School had been located. I was interested because my Grandmother and her two sisters had attended that school and I have a newspaper clipping of a picture that was made of the students in 1900.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 1:20 PM
  • I can't remember the Bedford Cheese co. making deliveries either, but I remember when I was young and would visit my grandparent's farm, the trucks would pick up the milk early in the morning from the side of the road. The milking was done about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning so those trucks would do their pickup around that time, also. I remember the tall silver aluminum cans. I don't think that I have heard anyone say what the Company would pay the farmers for a full can of milk.

    -- Posted by cookie on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 6:58 PM
  • cookie, I do not know what they payed either, but I know that they weighed each can, so I am guessing that they paid by the pound.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 7:17 PM
  • I also could never figure out why the farmers didn't put those cows on a much later milking schedule.

    -- Posted by cookie on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 7:28 PM
  • LOL. I think the cows dictated what time "milking time" would be.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 7:39 PM
  • I remember that Grant and Virginia Sewart owned and operated the Bedford Cheese Company through the 50's and 60's. I am not sure when they retired from the business. They were great family friends and we went to church together. They were good Christian people. As a young man I looked up to both of them and respected them. As for Shelbyville Harness Company, I believe Christine Batts was the last of the family owners and operators. If I am correct they made horse and mule collars as well as other harness equipment. I think it was sold in the late 1970's. Again, Christine was a family friend and a very interesting lady. Thanks again, David for bring back some great memories of friends of my family.

    -- Posted by chs61 on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 10:18 PM
  • My grandfather, George H. Hulan, Sr. was the manager (what I guess would now be called CEO) of the Shelbyville Harness Company. It had financing from several partners, but he was the boss and the master craftsman. I wrote it up for that bicentennial book your newspaper is supposed to be issuing in a couple of weeks. Dates of the company (as such) were 1909-1943. I don't know about Christine Batts, and wonder if she might have been at Robinson-McGill, Blue Ribbon, or some other local firm that made harness.

    -- Posted by razyn on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 1:08 AM
  • chs61, you and I grew up in the same church and are almost the same age. Forgive me if I tweak your answer a little! The lady who owned the Shelbyville Collar Company was Christine Hill, mother of our friend Peggy. She continued to run the company after the death of her husband. I have racked my brain for his name and hope someone will jump in here. This was in the early 60's. If I remember correctly, Christine even appeared on "What's My Line" as making mule collars was such an unusual occupation. Cousin razyn was correct that it was not Shelbyville Harness Company. Christine and Gerth Batt were also church members, but not associated with the leather companies in town. The cheese company owners were the Siewarts. First Christian was a wonderful church family and I miss those days. Great youth groups also! Someone correct me if it is Batts, not Batt.

    -- Posted by dianainnc on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 6:30 AM
  • It was Christine Burns whose company made the mule collars--for many years after her husband's death.

    Speculation is right about the trucks. They were trucks that ran daily routes to the dairy farms in the county picking up the raw product (milk) for the cheese plant. Unlike now, the cheese plant made its own cheese.

    dianainnc you're correct that the spelling is Batt, and not Batts. Gerth Batt ran the Madison St. Bowling Alley.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 7:33 AM
  • The most recent issue of the Bedford County Historical Society's quarterly shows an old advertisement for The Shelbyville Harness Co., which took up a rather large parcel of land at the corner of Deery and East Lane St. In fact, the large building facing Deery St. is still standing, as is the building that used to be the R.L. Patterson Const. company building (also a part of the harness company). Look on Google Earth satellite view and you can clearly see the remnants of that company.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 7:46 AM
  • Let me jump in here if I may. dianainnc, I am like you in that I can not remember Christine Hill/Burns husband's name. It is on the tip of my tongue but I can not spit it out.

    In the 1954 Aquila Betty Sue lists her last name as Batte, and that is what I have always thought it was. Also, directly across from the old Madison Street School was Uselton's Pan-Am service station with Restaurant space on the Eastern end of the building. I am a little confused here but I believe that either Mrs. Hayes (Billie Hayes Crowell, June, and Phyllis Ann's) mother, or Christine Batte ran that restaurant in the late 50s. A comical thought came to my mind. One of Gerth's sayings was "I will be so poor that I will be wearing a straw hat and ice cream shoes after Labor Day."

    It is strange but Grant Siewart's name has been mentioned twice now as being the owner of Bedford Cheese. In my recollection I have always held that ownership of Bedford Cheese was a partnership, with the partners being Grant Siewart, Eleanor Lyons, and possibly a third party that I can not recall at the moment. Please remember that I am getting old and my memory is not what it once was.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 8:11 AM
  • marnold1118, By the way, the latest quartley of the Bedford County Historical Society was another great one. I always look forward to getting it as it is always rich in history. The question was asked on pages 79 and 80 "Do you remember these?" I scored 100 on those as I remembered each and every one listed in my lifetime.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 8:30 AM
  • Some flickers of recognition keep flashing into my mind that the other partner in Bedford Cheese could have been the last name of Dalton, but do not try and take that to the bank. Yes, I do know how to spell quarterly but I do not always type as I should.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 8:49 AM
  • leeiii, here's another shot in the dark. For some reason I recall Christine's husband's name as Howard Burns...but I'm not sure. I too think that the name of Dalton is correct in connection with the cheese plant.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 9:03 AM
  • Didn't Christine and Gerth Batte run a restaurant on Depot Street in the early 50's? I think I remember that it was across from the Princess Theatre. I may be having another "senior moment".

    -- Posted by cookie on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 9:04 AM
  • Seems the name "Bill" Dalton wants to associate itself with Bedford Cheese, in my memory, but my memory is no longer just "suspect", but downright decrepit.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 9:08 AM
  • I 'dumped milk' the summer of '57 at Bedford Cheese. Confirming several items above, trucks rolled in from the farms about 6am and 6pm; each milk can had the owner's number on it, and we'd dump, weigh, and record the amount of milk from each farm. Milk was processed, vatted, cheese-making "stuff" added, cut into 50# blocks, wrapped in plastic and heavy paper, then stored/aged in a cooler. Bill Dalton was the 'head man' at the time, the Atnip brothers were shift foremen, and Grant Siewart was the co-owner with (as I recall) the family of the late Gene Lyons. What follows is a partial excerpt from the T-G of 7/18/46.

    "Eugene A. (Gene) Lyons...Found dead beside his wrecked automobile West of Carthage on Highway 70. Buried in Atlanta Ga. Native of Pulaski, Wis. In partnership with G. A. Siewart in the Bedford Cheese Company. Parents; Mr. and Mrs. Michael Lyons of Green Bay, Wis. Wife not named. 2 children; Nancy Lee Lyons age 7 and Eugene E. Lyons Jr. age 9. Died July 12, 1946"

    For those who are not aware, some kind folks have recorded partial obituary information extracted from the T-G for 1928 - 1946, at the following web-site http://www.tngenweb.org/bedford/Obituaries/Obituary_Index.htm

    -- Posted by dkd57 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 10:27 AM
  • Memory tells me the milk for Bedford Cheese Co. was collected in a smaller can called a "Cream Can" ....

    -- Posted by FlaDon on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 10:38 AM
  • FlaDon...at the time I was dumping, they were all the 10-gal, about 26" tall cans. Other times certainly may have used the cream cans.

    -- Posted by dkd57 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 11:37 AM
  • Sorry gang but I had to take a time out to make my weekly trip to Krogers and take advantage of my Senior Discount day.

    There has been a lot of good information presented by dianainnc, cookie, marnold1118, ilikeoldsongs, chs61, FlaDon, and especially dkd57 and I will not try to answer all of it here. dkd57, I am sure that I probably know you or have met you because I came through that delivery line many times, and I agree with you that I only remember the 10 gallon cans.

    I can remember Nancy Lee working in the office in the Summer months when school was out, as well as Gene Dalton working in the plant during the Summer months. Gene Lyons, Jr. and Grant Siewert, Jr. were both a little bit older than me but I will bet that both of them worked there during the Summer months in their time.

    Some of the drivers that I can remember are: Roy Davenport, John Nichols, Joe Norman, and I think that at one time Herman Adcock may have had a route.

    cookie, I do not remember the Batte family being at that location, but it does make sense to me. Christine was a wonderful cook and a wonderful lady. The most contact that I had with Gerth was at the Pool Room, and at the Bowling Alley. Gerth was a dear friend.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 12:17 PM
  • leeiii...please help me straighten out the Siewert family you refer to. While I was in CHS both Natalie and Stewart Siewart (note different spelling..Siewart) were in the band. Were these kids part of the "cheese clan"??

    -- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 12:54 PM
  • steadyeddie, I do not remember Natalie right off hand, but I believe that Stewart is the one that I referred to as Grant Jr. Let me ask you a question. Were both of them a little bit older than you? I can not find them in the 1954 Aquila.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 1:42 PM
  • steadyeddie, Natalie and Stewart Siewart's parents were Grant and Virgina Siewart, and part of the "cheese clan". I grew up in the First Christian Church, and I do remember Natalie and Stewart, but they were a lot older than me. I would think that they probably graduated in the early 50's. Don't know for sure.

    -- Posted by cookie on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 3:04 PM
  • Man I loved that cheese........

    -- Posted by Bjaj1 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 6:30 PM
  • Sorry to be so slow to join in, but I've been hunting all day for a good answer for Cookie on the price farmers got for milk. I found my grandfathers entry from July 1936 which had 62 different weights , which would probably be 62 of the 10 gallon cans. It does not indicate by these numbers whether it is pounds or what,but the bottom line is for the whole month of July my grandfather was paid $54.12 - $7.65 for hauling for a total of $46.47. Then in 1953 we went Grade A and sold to Sealtest in Nashville and prices varied from month to month, but in Dec. 1959 it was 5.58 cents per pound. At some time we sold to the cheese plant, Bordons, and a company in Murfreesboro. We were always up at 4 A.M.and first on the school bus at 6:30. Milking was only the beginning of the day for farmers,because there was planting, harvesting , repairing, and many other chores to do.

    -- Posted by Cal t on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 7:14 PM
  • Yep I just noticed BORDENS.

    -- Posted by Cal t on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 7:21 PM
  • Cal t,

    Thanks for doing your research. It is very interesting. I have more questions. When your grandfather sold to Sealtest in Nashville, or Borden's, did the company run trucks, and pick up the milkcans? Do you remember how many cows that he had? I think that my grandparents did not have but 8 to 10.

    -- Posted by cookie on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 7:26 PM
  • Cookie...When I was a kid, my dad only had 4 or 5 old Jersey cows, and he sold the milk even though it was less than a 10-gallon can full...and the milk truck would stop by and pick it up. Having said that, I can recall on a very few rare occasions he would have to take the milk can by the milk/cheese plant himself, but I'm not sure why.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 8:20 PM
  • Cookie, before 1953 we milked by hand and we may have milked 20, but I'm not real sure about that.The truck came to pick the milk up early because most people had no way to chill the milk, so you had to have the milk cans out early next to the highway on a stand that was level with truck bed. We usually sent 2 cans per day and probably not full. We also kept milk for home use.The driver would pick our cans with our account number on the can and leave 2 empty from the day before. Seems like I remember on the hottest days we went to the ice plant and got 100# blocks of ice to chill the milk. If you missed the truck you had to deliver your own milk to the plant. Then after we went Grade "A" we had to install a large stainless vat to keep the milk cold and large tanker trucks came every other day or so to pick up with a large suction hose. After I was in the Service daddy probably milked 45 to 65 at times.

    -- Posted by Cal t on Wed, Jun 16, 2010, at 9:09 PM
  • Natalie Siewart graduated from CHS in 1951.

    -- Posted by jim8377 on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 7:09 AM
  • Thanks jim8377. Do you remember what year Stewart graduated?

    -- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 7:23 AM
  • lee111:

    Stewart Siewart graduated from Tenn Tech in 1955, the year before I started there...He was leader of the Tech Troubadours Dance Orchestra which I played with from 1956-58....I have tried to locate him in recent times to no avail...

    -- Posted by FlaDon on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 8:17 AM
  • Stewart Siewart graduated from CHS with Bo Melson in 1952.

    -- Posted by jsutton on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 8:42 AM
  • Tech Troubadours! Thanks for the memory FlaDon. One of the highlights of my high school years was being able to enjoy the "Melody Makers", "Moonshiners", "Serenaders" during open assembly.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 8:48 AM
  • Cal t, if your graduating class is celebrating it's 50th reunion this year, then cookie and I are your classmates. If that's the case I remember always looking at your family farm as we drove out that highway. It seemed like a large dairy herd to me. Also, if I'm correct, the Times-Gazette did a story about your father years ago and an unusual feature of the farm -- he had to cross a narrow footbridge to get to the barn! I've enjoyed learning about cheese making in Bedford County. Several years ago when our children were back in Shelbyville, they wanted to buy cheese to carry home with them. They bought the cheese at the place we've been talking about, but were disappointed to learn it is no longer made there.

    -- Posted by dianainnc on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 10:39 AM
  • Dianainnc...there are several of us in that CHS 1960 class that blog rather regularly in David's weekly column--from all across the country.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 11:14 AM
  • marnold1118, I hope they are all enjoying it as much as I do. Should we all add our user name to the bottom of our nametag?

    -- Posted by dianainnc on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 11:30 AM
  • dianainnc and I do a lot of e-mailing across country trying to guess who a lot of you are. It is enjoyable and I certainly look forward to David's blogs because of it.

    -- Posted by cookie on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 12:27 PM
  • I haven't lived in Shelbyville since 1946, but I had a student job as youth director at the Christian Church there in 1961-62. Cookie, Diana and that crowd were still around, some of the time -- but I mostly dealt with slightly younger church members. Emphasis on "mostly."

    After the question of Christine's last married name (Burns) was settled, I must admit at least having met her, around 1970. Her saddlery business on Madison St. had nothing officially to do with the Shelbyville Harness Company; but I think they had some of the original tin (or anyway, sheet metal) templates for cutting harness, that my grandfather Hulan had made around the beginning of the 20th century. An old guy who did shoe repairs around the north side of the courthouse square told me that's where their older patterns came from. He had worked at the Shelbyville Harness Company, and also at Robinson-McGill, at least as early as the 1930s. His feelings toward his former employers were not warm.

    -- Posted by razyn on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 1:28 PM
  • I too have a lot of fun trying to figure out who the bloggers are, but I would not be adverse to revealing my identity to you if we decide to do that. Hopefully I do not say anything on here that could be used against me in a court of law.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 2:23 PM
  • dianainnc, you are correct about the class of '60 and it will be good to find out about the reunion.marnold1118 has my e-mail,and David can share it also. I really enjoy this blog and don't know a lot about some topics but in the back of my crusted rusty mind I have heard Daddy, Deery Eakin, James Scott,Dick Poplin and others talk about things and now that I'm older I wish I had listened more. My dad saved lots of Mr. Poplins stories and I still enjoy refreshing my memory on them. I enjoyed the time on Mr. Eakin's porch video taping the 4 above hearing about the 20's and thru 60's.

    -- Posted by Cal t on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 8:29 PM
  • Speaking of picking up the milk cans, does anyone happen to have a picture of one of the milk stands that stood by the side of the road? It most usually was constructed of wood and stood tall enough to be about level with the door of the milk truck. That is where you left your milk cans to be picked up and empties left for you.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 8:50 AM
  • leeiii, I had to go all the way to Poland to find a milk platform picture, and it is just a dinky little thing, unlike the ones that I remember from my childhood in Maury County which were built for 6 to 8 cans, as best I can recall. And I don't remember them being "boxed in" like the one in this picture, though I might be wrong about that.

    It wasn't unusual, back in the day, to ask the milk truck driver to pick up a plug of tobacco or a sack of Country Gentleman, if you knew him pretty well, and "catching a ride" to town on the milk truck was a routine occurance, leastwise in my neck of the woods. Seems that in later years, however, I recall little "no riders" signs in the trucks. Insurance rules and a sue happy population, I guess.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 10:21 AM
  • Oh well, here's the link to that polish platform.


    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 10:24 AM
  • ilikeoldsongs, Good job. I can always count on you. I am like you in that I remember them being bigger and not fenced in. The ones I remember were more like a platform or loading dock.

    Yes, we did tend to get our money's worth out of the milk truck drivers. That was a whole different age than today.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 10:52 AM
  • One time on late night, foreign-movie cable TV, I saw a really droll (and maybe subtitled) Swedish movie, Midvinterduell, in which a milk stand is the dramatic focus:


    A little far afield from the Bedford County experience -- but if you ex dairymen get a chance to watch it, I guarantee you will relate. Even through several feet of snow.

    My cousin Miller Dement and his family had a good sized dairy operation out toward Normandy. I'm happy to say I didn't have to help him run it, at 4:30 AM or otherwise. But I remember those cans, stands, trucks, etc. And I agree, it was totally a different era.

    -- Posted by razyn on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 11:47 AM
  • razyn, I looked up Midvinterduell on imdb. That sounds like a really interesting storyline, kind of like what all of us are facing today. I am going to try and find that movie for rent. Thanks for the link.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 12:28 PM
  • leeiii, I did not find a picture of our milk stand, but it had 2 cedar posts for support and a square frame deck to set the cans on. My brother and I took an early morning ride with our driver all the way to Sealtest in Nashville before they said no riders. It was a trip to remember for two young boys. The drivers last name was Boyer. That was a real physical job to move all those cans full of milk.Some farmers did not have a stand and the driver would have to do some lifting. I was glad to see bulk tankers .

    -- Posted by Cal t on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 1:10 PM
  • dianainnc, you are correct about me being raised in the First Christian Church and can probably guess who I am. I was a member of the class of 61. I left two weeks after graduation and joined the Navy and did not return when my tour of duty was up. My partents moved from Shelbyville in 1962. I jokingly accused them of moving and not leaving a forwarding address. I think I have figured out most of the bloggers who are my age, but your dentity is still a mystery to me. I stand corrected on Christine's last name and the Sewarts may very well have had partners. Both families were close family friends and as a child I looked up to both. I thoroughly enjoy this blog and past comments about First Christian caused me to locate John Winkler, the son of one of the Pastors, John Park Winkler Sr. David, keep up the good work, I enjoy every blog.

    -- Posted by chs61 on Mon, Jun 21, 2010, at 4:12 PM
  • We had a dairy when I was a young man. My Dad sold to Sealtest for years. I am thinking Sealtest went out of business and he started selling to Bedford Cheese. I used to carry the milk to town when I was 14. We carried it every other day. I drove a 53 Chevrolet pickup with usually ten to twelve 10 gallon milk cans. James and Jake Atnip worked there and they dumped the milk into a vat and weighed it. Dad would send me while he was getting things ready to do in the field. I would sometimes stop by Martin-Price hardward and sneak a peak at the rifles before coming home.

    -- Posted by cordell on Tue, Jun 22, 2010, at 11:16 AM
  • Thanks for the kind words about my Grandparents Grant & Virginia Siewert. Someone was looking for Stu Siewert and he now lives in Knoxville, Tn. As a kid, I always enjoyed going to the cheese plant with Grandpa. Alot of good memories!!

    -- Posted by brobling on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 2:41 PM
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