The 17th Annual Cheese Heritage Festival
Why a Cheese Heritage Festival?
Around 1875, Wellington, Ohio led the nation in cheese production with more than 40 cheese factories and many large ice-refrigerated storage plants. The Wellington product was shipped in boxes to all points of the compass and abroad until the town was called the “Cheese Capital of the World”
The Horr-Warner Company at one time had 17 factories in Wellington and seven more in Elyria. Convinced of the superior quality of Wellington cheese and with an ever-increasing inexhaustible supply on hand, Horr & Warner Company searched for a larger market. In what perhaps was the peak year, 1878, Wellington shipped 6,475,674 pounds of cheese and 1,100,661 pounds of butter all over the United States and many foreign lands. The value of the commodity exceeded $800,000.
Cheese making ceased about 1912 with the closing of the B.B. Herrick factory. With the invention of refrigeration, dairymen found it more profitable to sell milk to creameries than to turn it into cheese. Not a single cheese plant is operating now in the Wellington area. About the only visible evidence remaining of the cheese industry is a large painted sign, “Cheese,” above the second floor windows of the Flat Iron block.
Next time you drive along South Main Street, you’ll see many beautiful historic homes built by the cheese barons.
The Legend of Molly Baun
Molly Baun, a two-year-old Holstein-Friesian cow, was brought to the Wellington area from Holland by cheese production mogul C.W. Horr. Mr. Horr, who is credited for making Wellington the “Cheese Empire,” was in Europe seeking ways to expand Wellington’s cheese industry when he made a side trip to Holland to view that country’s high producing Holsteins.
With Wellington’s cheese industry growing at a fast pace, more milk was needed to accomplish the job. At that time, Wellington’s dairy cows were producing 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of milk a year while Holland’s Holsteins were producing 8,000 to 10,000 pounds a year.
Molly Baun not only amazed the dairy industry by producing 17,000 pounds or 1,977 gallons of milk as a three year old, but was also the first purebred in Ohio. Molly Baun is credited with the start of Ohio’s excellent Holstein dairy breeding program.