Bio: Stewart, Arthur (Stewart Cheese Corp.)



Surnames: Stewart, Bolf, Brux, Bayuk, Dyre, Franz, Goodbrand, Johnson, Markee, Moore, Ormond, Scheuerman, Schwarze, Walter, Welsh



The Stewart Cheese Corporation

Contributed by Mary (Stewart) Humke.



Stewart's Redville Dairy (circa 1960)



The origins of the Stewart Cheese Corporation can be traced back to the small community of Redville, which was located 6 miles north of Withee, Wis., about 1 mile inside Taylor County. At that time Redville consisted of a lumber mill, a general store and the Redville Cheese Factory.

Arthur Stewart bought the cheese factory in 1920 and produced American cheese. During the 1930's he became aware of the demand for Italian cheese, especially in the eastern states. He then hired cheese makers from Italy to come teach him their methods and thus became one of the first to produce Italian cheese in the state of Wisconsin. Thereafter the main product of the factory was Italian cheese, except for the early summer months when the cows first went out on grass and the milk had too much carotene (yellow color) for the light-colored Italian cheese. During those months cheddar cheese was produced. That pattern continued throughout the years.


With the outbreak of World War II the men working in the factory were being drafted into military service and there was a severe shortage of help. It was at that time, 1942, that Arthur asked his brother Wilbur, to help out in the factory. By 1945 the business had outgrown its facilities and a search had begun to find larger quarters, preferably on railroad tracks. A vacant pea canning factory was found in Greenwood, Clark County, on railroad siding. It was purchased and remodeled into a cheese factory. In last 1945 the move was made.


Also, at that time another brother, Robert Stewart, and Harlan Brux, both experienced cheese makers, joined the business and the Stewart Cheese Corporation was formed.


With the new location on railroad siding, shipment of cheese via refrigerated rail cars was now possible, a vast improvement over the previously used over-the-road trucks. The business continued to grow as the demand for Italian cheese grew.


By the late 1940's, their products were beginning to receive recognition. Harlan Brux received the Governor's Trophy for Excellence for their Italian cheese, and for two consecutive years, Wilbur Stewart took top honors for their cheddar at the National Dairy Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa.



Stewart's Redville Dairy in 1951


Many changes took place in the cheese industry between 1920 and 1984. With the advent of the large refrigerated holding tanks, the work week went from 7 days to 5. The range of territory from which the milk was hauled now included 5 counties: Clark, Taylor, Wood, Marathon and Jackson. At the peak of operations between 30 and 35 people were employed, and on occasion, the daily intake of mile reached 120,000 lbs. Since it took 10 lbs. Of mile to produce 1 lb. of cheese, that meant that 12,000 lbs. Of cheese were produced on those days.


In 1984 the business was sold to Professional Managers Corporation, and by 1985 it had ceased to operate.


Stewart's Redville Dairy produced over 4 million pounds of Italian Provolone cheese a year (9% of Wisconsin's total output) and approximately 1 million pounds of Cheddar.  Producing two varieties provided full-time employment by off-setting the 6 mo. aging process for Provolone.  Costly traces of antibiotics from the farms would occasionally show up in the milk and became a "terrific financial drain" because the unprocessed milk would have to be dumped.  In 1984, the plant was sold to John Plantan who operated it until July 1985 when it went out of business after he was charged with numerous felonies and two misdemeanors of operating without a license, forgery and embezzlement which led to his imprisonment. (circa 1960)


January 1950
For two years in a row Clark County has run off with the national championship in American cheddar cheese.  The factory which has brought this honor to the county is that of the Stewart Cheese Corporation at Greenwood.  The men behind the factory are the three Stewart brothers, their associates and workers.
The personnel of the Stewart Cheese Corp. are Arthur, Robert and Wilbur Stewart, Harlan W. Brux, John H. Lesneski and Nettie E. Miller. The entries which made the national championships were made in the name of Wilbur A. Stewart, who is secretary-treasurer of the organization, but he passes the honors around, not only to his associates in the corporation, but also to the workers in the factory.  It takes a lot of cooperation to produce championship cheese, and that cooperation is given in the Stewart organization.
This accomplishment of the Stewart Cheese Corporation has not only brought the award of victory, as given at the National Dairy Congress at Waterloo, Iowa, but has also won for them the attention of the Milwaukee Journal and of Lewis C. French, feature writer of that newspaper. French wrote the following article:
Wilbert A. Stewart, 42, of Greenwood is the repeat cheddar cheese champion of the Waterloo, Iowa, Dairy Congress.
If there is such a thing as a national cheese championship, this is it. You don’t win by accident, especially two straight years.
Once again, the Wisconsin vat Maestros showed up those upstarts from distant Oregon, the Tillamook craftsmen who sneaked in for a victory two years ago.  Forthwith the west coast cheese makers proclaimed that Oregon had succeeded the noble Badger State as the makers of the finest cheese. They crowed like a fence hopping rooster at dawn.
So a year ago some of the first string cheese makers of the dairyland state sent down some cheddars and galloped off with the top three places, with W. A. Stewart the champion.
Stewart did it again this year, making the cheese from Oregon, Iowa, Ohio and Illinois look like the kind that one puts in traps or uses on a trot line to catch catfish.
Wilbur is one of the three Stewart brothers, all cheese makers, and good ones.
Wilbur is a modest man.  He’s got that clean cut look square jaw, a glint in his eye and a Yankee snap. The day after winning the championship, he was swishing the mop under the vats, wearing rubber boots, spotless white pants and shirt, the rubber apron of the trade and a skull cap, set at a cocky angle.
He’s a bit bored about the fuss and feathers, pats on the back and interruptions when he should be helping with the curd.
Two of the Stewart brothers, Arthur and Robert, had more experience than Wilbur.
The family was reared on a Wisconsin farm and spent some time in South Dakota. The brothers agree that it was their mother, Hannah Stewart, who really laid the foundation for winning championships. She was a Dane and had been trained by Danish standards on dairying.
Until her death the mother made the finest butter and kitchen cheese.
“Everything had to be just right,” said the brothers.  “If we youngsters slighted the milking or were careless in feeding the cows, we heard about it from mother.  She took pride in even the prints in her butter.  We wanted to hurry along the churning or making the cottage cheese.  Not mother.
“’Do it right,’ she would say.”
None of the brothers attended a dairy school. They learned vat cheese making from the old-timers through experience and observations.
There is nothing spectacular about the Stewart’s plant. It has four vats and intake of around 50,000 pounds of local milk a day.  About a million pounds of cheese a year are sold in New York.  They have proved that you do not have to have super duper equipment to turn out a championship product.  Look over the records of the winners of the state fair sweepstakes championship, those at the cheese makers’ convention – where the vat boys really pitch in at the interstate shows. Almost without exception, the winner is from one of those snug crossroads or village plants where there is determination plus skill to produce cheese just a little better than the top-notchers of the trade.  Seldom does a championship come out of a costly flexible plant handling up to 300,000 to 500,000 pounds a day.
The better crossroads plants take their time watching the milk, the action of the rennet, the curing and salting.  They strive for perfection or close to it. The Stewart brothers never forgot the training their mother gave them.  There’s true taste in the golden cheddar cheese.
Funny, how Yanks can produce something from the old world better than the natives if they set their mind to it.
The Stewarts produce cheddar only two months of the year.  When the June grass is lush and the milk full of carotene and color, the milk goes into cheddar for that golden yellow natural color from new grass.  But when the farmers switch their cattle to silage and dried forage when the pastures brown up the factory makes Italian types.
“The Italians do not like yellow cheese, preferring white paste color,” say the brothers.
Just to prove that the cheddar championship is no accident, this moderate sized Clark County factory won the Italian type championships at the state fair, the centennial year competition at the Fond du Lac makers’ convention show, at the Chippewa fair and in 1949 at the Central Wisconsin Cheese Makers’ Association in Marshfield.
Cheese scoring around 96 is generally good enough to be in the prize winning class at Waterloo. That is strictly bush league, as compared to the scores made when the Wisconsin cheese makers stage their own “dog fight” competition.  You had better be above 97 ½ if you want any blue ribbons in that competition. The Stewarts have won both at home and abroad.
Stewart says there are 14 men working in the factory, each with an important job and all share in the winner’s award.  Two of the employees, Craig Asplin and Fred Wilhelm are the other vat craftsmen.
Three years ago the Stewarts were rankled a bit reading the puffs from Oregon.  When the entry tags came in the mail the next year Wilbur, grinning a bit, went back to the shelves where the June grass cheese was curing, picked out a cheddar and shipped it down to Iowa.
A week later Clarence Gorsenger, Greenwood city attorney and Clark County District Attorney, whacked Wilbur on the back and said he had won the national championship.  That was the first he knew of the contest results until he received the certificate and cash prize.
The year he did the same thing, maybe using a little more care in selecting the cheddar, and won again.


(The Stewart Cheese Factory was located in Greenwood, west of Main Street, on Cannery Street. D.Z.; Source: Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI, January 12, 2000, Page 20.

The ad above appeared in the 1967 Greenwood Gleaner Christmas Insert.


Memories (Please contact us if you have additional memories to share)


Both of my parents worked at Stewart's Redville Dairy for around 12 years during the 1960's and early 1970's.  It was a non-union plant with wages typical of a small towns in the mid-west and very few benefits.  I worked there for two summers, as well as on weekends during my senior year of high school.  My hourly wage nearly equaled that of my mom and dad, despite their many years of seniority over me.  Full-time work amounted to 45 hours per week and I grossed around $240 per month.  Preparing, smoking, storing and packaging Provolone Italian Cheese was the normal daily routine.  Some of the 100 lb. "rounds" made there were a good foot  in diameter and stood some 5 feet high.  A plug of cheese was removed for tasting to test it for proper aging.  Most of the production was shipped either by rail or by truck to the sizable market in New York.  Very few local people, including my family, ate the cheese produced here, because it had a very strong smoky taste.  I really enjoy a good piece of provolone cheese today.  It just tastes milder than I remember as a kid.


The best time of each day when I worked there was at morning break when we would have some fresh goodies (especially carmel-pecan rolls) from the Greenwood Bakery.  My father, Ewald, worked in the smoke room and the  shipping department and he often smelled of a strong smoky cheese odor even after bathing.  He was a strong man with large hands and the heavy lifting his work required, kept him in good shape.  My mother, Sally, molded cheese balls while standing on a cold, damp, cement floor, in a windowless room.  I always felt this contributed to the arthritic condition she developed in later life and her eventual need for hip replacement.  One of the summers I worked there, I painted the inside of the building.  I really got my fill of painting, and it was years before I picked up a paint brush again.  Today, I rather enjoy doing it. 


After this business changed hands, the new owners were convicted of tax fraud.  My brother, Don, was working as an auditor for the Dairy Industry of the State of Wisconsin at the time and he took part in the ultimate investigation. Stan Schwarze--April 2004.


As a young bride my aunt, Leora Dyre, told me she worked in the cheese factories whenever she wanted something special for the house and the Redville Cheese Factory of Greenwood, WI  was which hired her.  She said that neither the Greenwood Co-op or the Redville Dairy sold anything other than Milk, Cheese, and Cream.  But, that the Greenwood Co-op also was a canning factory. (This would indicate that some of the products were shipped out.) This would most likely be in the mid 30's and into the 40's.  
She remembered my Uncle Ken, as was typical of the men of that era, was a bit embarrassed that his Wife had to go "out" to work, so he went into the Redville Factory and told Art Stewart to treat Aunt Leora "like a baby",  thus regaining his "man of the house" image and pride. 
Judy Hansen--Sept 2004.



(Please contact us if you have additional employees to add)

Bolf, Theresa

Brux, Harlan

Bayuk, Frank

Dyre, Leora

Franz, Ferdinand "Fritz"

Goodbrand, Julia

Johnson , N. Arnold

Markee, Lucille

Moore, George

Ormond, John

Scheuerman, Robert Lee

Schwarze, Ewald

Schwarze, Sarah "Sally"

Schwarze, Stan

Walter, Francis

Welsh, Ted



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