Butter makers

As soon as I saw the word butter in the Sepia Saturday theme, I knew what I had to do. Let me explain. The photo below shows a portion of my father’s family taken in New London, WI, circa 1937. My dad is crouching on the left and we believe that the person on the other side is Chuck Hennings, his cousin. The people standing are: my 3x great Aunt Lena Carew, great Aunt Rosie Rice, 2x great Aunt Loretta Rice, and the man is my grandfather “Handsome Harry” Rice. Let’s not ignore the dog who looks very similar to my pointer, Daisy. I was over the moon when I saw this pup. I don’t know the name or whose it is but it sure is a handsome dog.scan0026

I am going to turn our attention to Lena Carew. She is the youngest of 10 children born to Patrick Carew and Ellen Sullivan, my 3x great grandparents. Her parents were born in Ireland and while they were young, their families were brought over to Canada in 1825 with the Peter Robinson settlers. This isn’t my focus today but it is easy to find information about the assisted emigration program that occurred with the Irish and I wrote about it here. After living in Canada for many years, the Carew’s decided to move to Mukwa, Wisconsin in 1852. This is where Lena was born on May 23, 1866.
The Carew’s set up many farms in the area and I found the agricultural censuses from 1870 and 1880. In 1870, Patrick’s farm had 8 Milk cows and produced 500 pounds of butter. In 1880, he had 6 Milk cows and produced 600 pounds of butter. What to do with all that butter? Lena’s very long obituary gives us a clue. Here is a portion:

“…she mentioned her recollections of steamboats on the river coming in at the Oxbow and told how the children used to pick berries and take them to the boats to sell. The Carew’s were excellent butter makers too, and she recalled also that occasionally they would take butter to the boats to sell.” (I was given this obituary without the source provided)

I never know what journey these photo prompts will take me on but this one helped me tease out a portion of my family history.

See what others are sharing at Sepia Saturday.

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9 thoughts on “Butter makers

  1. An inspired story to take from the Sepia Saturday theme. My maternal grandfather came from a later wave of Irish immigrants (in this case Northern Ireland) who came over via Canada and then settled in balmy Minnesota. Later this summer my son will get married on a former dairy farm here in NC that is now a rustic event venue. The milking barn has been converted into a reception/ceremony site. I’ll ask about the butter output.


  2. It is so wonderful that this information is retained and shared for future generations. It is the little things (and memories) that are important!

    An enjoyable post!


  3. A big move from Ireland to Canada, Many left at this time to look for “greener” pastures; even twice! It looks like a contented family, with the lovely pup cuddled by a handsome fellow. Great for you to make the connections.


  4. A nice family photo – especially with the dog. When we were first married we had a beautiful Irish Setter who was oft in family pictures. After she passed away, however, we had cats. You don’t see many cats in family photographs, but no surprise there! 🙂


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