Local News

March 12, 2014

Do you know what this is?


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a butter churn.

No one this week ventured a guess as to the identity of the artifact.

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “This charming little canister is an unusual example of a labor saving device – it is a convenient butter churn. Named the “World’s Champion Churn” was invented and manufactured in Oskaloosa by the Oskaloosa Manufacturing Company. Daniel W. Davis, inventor, and William T. Hall, partner, were awarded the patent in 1922; Nelle A Hoyt of Beacon owned the rights.

This handy churn claimed to be the “Cleanest, Quickest and BEST” churn on the market. It was designed to agitate the cream in order to create butter globules in the most efficient manner. Ideal for the “busy housewife,” it hung in a kitchen doorway by a spring at the top and bottom. All it needed was the occasional push downward to keep it shaking and agitating. Inside the churn canister was a coil that added to the motion, breaking the butter into small pieces, facilitating the process.

The history of butter is unexpected; today we think of it as a food, but historically it was used more for medicine or face cream. Considering the work required to consistently make a good tasting butter, it is not surprising. Modern methods such as refrigeration, cleanliness and freshness produce a good tasting product. However, since these conditions were not readily accessible in pioneer times, butter making was a difficult chore. Churning was physically tiring, and it took a long time. Wooden churns harbored germs and flavors that resulted in different flavors and rancidity in the butter. It was only during the mid-19th century that butter making became a reliable business.

Davis, Hall and Hoyt came up with a novel and useful tool for home butter maker. It never became a best seller; most farm kitchens relied on the glass four-paddle churns still popular with the homesteader supply stores today.”

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