Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Skipper cheeseCharlotte Rice’s grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Warren County. She has donated several items to our museum, including a milk test kit along with the following story:

    “This box contains one milk test set and was owned and used by my great grandfather, Josiah Mitchell and grandfather, Philip Hamilton Mitchell. They both made and sold cheese. The Mitchell family and everyone that I personally knew were great cheese eaters. My own family is very fond of good cheese.

    I remember my father, George Franklin Mitchell telling of them all making cheese together and selling "wheels" of it to the miners in Appanoose and Davis Counties, Iowa.

    P.H., as grandfather was called, was ridding (sorting) out his cheese aging shelves, always a chore, especially in the spring Cheeseand found some "skipper cheese" so stacked it on a box beside the door. (The cheese skipper is a small fly that lays its eggs on cheese and other human food.) A miner stopped by for cheese, counted the cheeses and tried to pay for it.  Grandfather explained that it was spoiled and he could not sell it. Grandfather intended to feed it to his hogs. The man argued "such a waste" and went on and on that his children were hungry, his wife was hungry and he was hungry and they loved it and had money to pay. So grandfather became disgusted and said "take it and go home" which the man did. When grandfather was done and turned to go out the door, here on the stone step was a neat pile of silver money, 50 cents for a wheel, the usual price, for each of the skipper cheese he'd taken. The same story was repeated often until Grandfather moved on to greener pastures, Warren County, Iowa.

    CheeseGrandfather and Great Grandfather butchered and sold cured and smoked pork. Grandmother raised chickens, churned butter, quilted and made rugs and carpeting on her old loom all these years for a living for all their family, even after Grandfather died in 1896. They sold fruit, garden produce and many other things and $2,000 a year was big money so I doubt they ever got much together, but they always managed to save and buy railroad land which was farmed or used for pasture. P.H. kept horses and raised them for others. Some were eventually trained for race horses but grandfather never raced.”

    Juanita Ott, Warren County Historical Society