The Rise of Dairy Farming

Wheat was the earliest and most important cash crop for white settlers in Wisconsin. It required a small initial capital investment and was fairly easy to grow, allowing farmers to harvest two crops a year. The high rate of financial return made wheat an especially attractive crop for homesteaders during the middle of the 19th century.

Wheat provided a way for new immigrants in Wisconsin to farm cheaply and to deliver a product that many people needed. From 1840 to 1880, Wisconsin was considered "America's breadbasket" because one-sixth of the wheat grown in the nation came from Wisconsin. The early... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: An interview with Dr. Babcock (1923)An interview with Dr. Babcock (1923)
Link to article: William Dempster Hoard looks back on the start of dairy farming in WisconsinWilliam Dempster Hoard looks back on the start of dairy farming in Wisconsin
Link to article: Recollections of Old SuperiorRecollections of Old Superior
Link to article: A history of cheesemaking in Green CountyA history of cheesemaking in Green County
Link to article: The legacy of the farm magazine, Hoard's Dairyman (1935)The legacy of the farm magazine, Hoard's Dairyman (1935)
Link to article: A Sauk Co. farmer recalls turning from wheat to dairy in the 1850s.A Sauk Co. farmer recalls turning from wheat to dairy in the 1850s.
Link to article: Cheese-making in Monticello, ca. 1870Cheese-making in Monticello, ca. 1870
Link to artifacts: A quilt made by hand, 1908-1934, from prize ribbonsA quilt made by hand, 1908-1934, from prize ribbons
Link to artifacts: A copper Swiss cheese kettleA copper Swiss cheese kettle
Link to artifacts: The oldest toast in WisconsinThe oldest toast in Wisconsin
Link to artifacts: Racine's malted milk transforms American soda fountainsRacine's malted milk transforms American soda fountains
Link to artifacts: Hoard's Dairyman Farm milk bottleHoard's Dairyman Farm milk bottle
Link to book: A history and statistical summary of dairying, 1860-1931.A history and statistical summary of dairying, 1860-1931.
Link to book: A 1944 cookbook featuring dairy productsA 1944 cookbook featuring dairy products
Link to images: Advertisements for farm equipmentAdvertisements for farm equipment
Link to images: Pictures of the founders of Wisconsin's dairy industry.Pictures of the founders of Wisconsin's dairy industry.
Link to images: Photos and advertisements showing dairy farmers at work, 1900-1950Photos and advertisements showing dairy farmers at work, 1900-1950
Link to images: Picture of Dr. Stephen Babcock with his butterfat tester.Picture of Dr. Stephen Babcock with his butterfat tester.
Link to images: Photos and information about the UW Dairy BarnPhotos and information about the UW Dairy Barn
Link to manuscript: William Dempster Hoard discusses his vision for the dairy industryWilliam Dempster Hoard discusses his vision for the dairy industry
Link to manuscript: A female leader in Wisconsin dairyingA female leader in Wisconsin dairying
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