Throwback Thursday: Midwest Dairy in the John Martin Smith Collection

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Milk, butter, cheese. Today we often pick these things up at the grocery store, but it wasn’t too long ago that they were brought to our front doorsteps by dairies, businesses that bought milk from local farmers, bottled it, and then delivered it to people’s homes. One such company was the Midwest Dairy of Auburn


In 1932, brothers Robert and Thaddeus Berkes left their delivery jobs at Auburn Dairy and started their own: Midwest Dairy. They set up their facilities at 305 E. First Street, and started off selling milk at 7 cents a quart. Times were tough, especially since not all of their customers paid their bills.

After a few years, Midwest ended up changing hands, first going to Wilbur Meyers (1937), and then to Vern Rockwell (1942). WWII brought changes as well—because of the fuel shortage, dairies had to cut back to every-other-day delivery, and because many men were off fighting, dairy farms were often short on hands to help bring in the milk.


The ’50s introduced changes in technology and another shift in ownership. Larry Osmun, who had joined Rockwell in 1952, bought the company, and in 1956, he started using a stainless steel tanker to handle bulk orders of milk. Midwest Dairy also remodeled, adding a second story to their facilities, and installing a high-temperature pasteurizer, which cut the pasteurization process from 30 minutes down to 15 seconds.


Gradually, the popularity of supermarkets and the decline in home deliveries brought about the demise of the small dairies. Midwest lasted until 1961, when it was purchased by Allen Dairy in Fort Wayne. The facility functioned as Allen’s Auburn branch until 1964.

To see more of the local dairy industry, click here and search “dairy.”


About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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