A History of STRUM
by Roy Matson
separated from milk by cooling the latter and then skimming the richer part off the top.
Pick-ups were usually made by route wagons twice weekly. The collection man had
several wood covered galvanized 30 gallon cans as final recepticals but there was also a
smaller can into which the patrons’ cream was poured, measured with a stick-gauge, and
credit given.

This era was a significant time in the milk industry. There was no way a creamery operator
or collection man could know the exact value of a patrons’ cream. There was no method
of knowing whether a patron had skimmed his cooled milk carefully or in a haphazard
manner. This chancy situation continued until Stephen Babcock, a professor at the
University of Wisconsin, perfected his butter fat tester in 1890.

As were many others, local people were interested in establishing a butter factory. Lars
Christianson is holder of a receipt for payment of a creamery share of $10.00, given to his
grandfather Johannes by Ole Kittleson who apparently was the treasurer. The date is
March, 1888. It is fairly safe to assume that erection of two small buildings and the
assembly of butter making equipment took place that year. The operation must have been
short lived. Perhaps it was the problem mentioned above, maybe the problem was the
market. 1889 was the year N. C. Foster was heading down the valley with his railroad
crew, a project in which all had a stake and wholehearted interest. In any event the Strum
Creamery (as it was assessed) closed operation in 1891.

It was about this time that most everybody was busy planning to move across the river
nearer the newly laid railroad track. Postmaster Ole Kittleson was one of these men and
had obtained a new partner named Hans Willumson. The latter was impressed by the
economic role a creamery could play in a community, secured control of the equipment,
established some cream routes, hired a buttermaker and began operation as an individual.
This continued for a year or so whereupon he called farmers to a meeting and gave them
his established enterprise, market and all. The farmers were happy and elected Nels
Hagestad, who operated a skimming station in Big Creek, president and Even Holte
secretary. Prices paid seemed to vary from 5 cents to 16 cents per pound of butterfat. No
records of volume or markets are available but an interesting antidote regarding the
buttermaker is worthy of mention. It is noted in minutes that this gentleman had a liking
for strong liquor which was little appreciated by the temperate community. A strongly
worded message (in Norwegian) was delivered: “either change habit or there would be
other change.” Next month appears a new name as operator. It seems his predecessor had
fallen into the churn. An intolerable situation.

The business was nearly broke about 1903 but weathered the storm. Anton Rognlien had
succeeded as president. Paul Moltzau followed him and in 1912 a new block building was
erected south of the river near a railroad spur.
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