Quintessential Barrington | Quintessential People | Quintessential America

Quintessential Barrington

Milk and Cheese

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story by Barbara L. Benson

Milk cans await pick up at the tracks in Barrington. Children play in the park near the train depot in the early 1920s.

The Cuba Township Road District office is not quite what it appears to be. It has a significant connection to the Township’s beginnings, and later to the flourishing dairy industry that dominated the Barrington countryside. The office, known as “The Grove”, is two joined, very old houses, one originally on the present site, and the other, originally more easterly on Cuba Road, opposite the entrance to West Flynn Creek Drive.

There, in 1851, it was the home of Noble R. Hayes, where the first meeting of the newly named Cuba Township Board was held. Later in the 19th century, the house was moved, across the dirt road that was the forerunner of the Northwest Highway, across the Chicago and Northwestern Railway tracks, and further west to be joined to an existing house on West Cuba Road. According to the late Bill Klingenberg, the joined houses became a boarding house for workers at the Fricke Cheese Factory.

The Cheese Factory stood at the corner of the later named Buckley and Cuba Roads by the creek. Fire destroyed the original factory in 1889, but its production was significant and it was rebuilt. Its proximity to the milk platform at the Cuba and Kelsey Road crossing meant that its products could be readily shipped to market. When production ceased is not known, but in the early 20th century, the building was moved further west on Cuba Road, where it is today a residence, near the railway crossing.

The Cuba Station milk platform was used until 1945, and it supplemented the milk drop at Barrington’s depot. Production was good, as noted in “Tales of Old Barrington”: “As many as three cars of cans of milk were shipped out of here every morning, and the empty cans returned in the mid-afternoon to be carried out by industrious boys and lined up according to the farmer’s name for the farmer to pick up next morning after loading his full cans into the waiting cars for shipment to Chicago. That dairy farming was a hard task. Up long before daylight, milk a lot of cows hot or cold weather notwithstanding, strain it into cans washed by the women the day before, feed and clean the cows and the barn, even though it was far below zero, and had to cut wire fences and drive across fields or in the shelter of hedges when the drifts of snow in the road were impassable (at times horses fell, floundered or wallowed in the snow and had to be unhitched and rehitched to get them out). Then finally get to town clad in a bear skin or coon skin coat and heavy felt boots, icicles hanging from the whiskers on his face and all around his turned up collar.”

Beginning around 1915, some of the new Barrington estate owners maintained dairy herds. H. Stillson Hart leased his herd at Hartwood Farms to the Borden Company. That the Barrington area was a significant producer of milk and its products was attested to by a paragraph in the November 7, 1947 Review: “Milk payments – Dr. D. B. Peck, President of Bowman Dairy Company announced that for September, dairy farmers of Cook-DuPage County received $17,739.97 for milk delivered to Bowman plants. These figures let people of your county know how much dairy farmers add to the financial stability of your community.”

The agricultural and dairy productiveness of Barrington area pioneers gave the foundation to the semi-rural environment that we enjoy today.

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Barbara L. Benson grew up in Kent, England, and later moved to New York. She settled in Barrington and has walked with our history ever since she first arrived here in 1980.