W. A. Gordon
A MERRY, little man, whose twinkling bright eyes belie the accuracy of his estimate that he is "physically sound but mentally bankrupt,'' is Theophilus Levi Haecker. Deep furrows line his face, but they are joyous wrinkles-the wrinkles of a man who has laughed much, even while arduous labor of mind and body was leaving its impress.
They call him
the "Father of Dairying" in Minnesota, where 664 nourishing co-operative
creameries now pour a golden stream of butter into the consuming centers of
America, and a golden stream of dollars into almost, every farming community
in the state. Those co-operative creameries stand as testimonials to an indomitable
will for this man Haecker was a stubborn individual who would not let discouraging
conditions swerve him from his determination to see a prosperous creamery
in even- locality where farmers could be prevailed .upon to milk cows. He
must have been somewhat of a fanatic, too, for who but, a fanatic heedless
of self would have traveled on foot enduring hardships and insults, without
personal reward, when others less equipped with intellect and training were
prospering from the development of a new industry in a new country? But if
fanaticism it was, it was the kind of fanaticism which brought happiness,
America is still
young enough to look upon its pioneers as the products of log cabins, and
Mr. Haecker is not disappointing in this respect. The fourth child of a family
of 12, he entered the world in a little log cabin in Medina County, Ohio,
on May 4, 1846. He was 7 years old when his family moved to Wisconsin to settle
on a farm at Cottage Grove. Typical of the times, his first schooling was
received in a. deserted log cabin. It was in 1860, when the clouds of a war
which was to rend the country in half were hovering over the land, that his
father sold the farm and rented another on the east shore of Lake Monona,
four miles from Madison.
Back in a German
border town, years before, the grandfather of young Haecker had resolved to
leave the homeland and seek a country where the curse of militarism did not
hang like a cloud over every farm and hamlet. It was primarily this thought
that impelled his migration to the United States with his family. Yet it did
not deter the grandson from offering his services to his country during the
great Civil War. No call to arms at the bidding of an ambitious monarch this,
but a war which involved the very existence of the Union. It need only be
said that young Theophilus served his country well, for history is too much
a chronicle of wars and, after all, it was in pursuits of peace that Mr. Haecker
made his greatest contributions.
It was at Cottage
Grove that he had his introduction to dairying, and his mother was his teacher.
However, it was not until some years later, when hack at Cottage. Grove he
commenced farming on his own account, that the dairy cow began to receive
the earnest attention of the man who was to contribute generously toward her
elevation to the, top rank of America's agricultural industry. In the meantime,
following his return from the war, lie worked for a short time among his old
neighbors in Wisconsin before joining his family in Franklin County, Iowa,
where it had moved while he was in the army. He went back to Wisconsin to
attend the state university in March, 1867, and divided his time between teaching
and being taught, until 1871, when he entered newspaper work for two years.
he farmed for a while at. Cottage Grove, but on May 11, 1874, entered the
office of W. R. Taylor, governor of Wisconsin, as private secretary, a position
which he retained for 17 years, although each succeeding governor, before
election, intended another person for that; position. Meanwhile he continued
developing his farming enterprise, and later returned when his connection
with the state capitol was severed. He had already acquired fame as a dairyman,
and had been entrusted by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin
with the task of selecting the purebred stock for the university farm. By
agreement, with the regents he purchased some for his own farm at the same
time and later, when he returned to Cottage Grove, started the first of his
co-operative activities in the organization of a. farmers' creamery and a
co-operative fire insurance, company.
activities were later to make him famous; so were the feeding studies which
had their birth upon the Cottage Grove farm. But seldom mentioned is Mr. Haecker's
contribution to agricultural education made at this time. Nevertheless, it
was because of his constant preaching of the need of practical agricultural
education and the pressure he brought to bear upon the regents of the university,
that. a short course was offered in agriculture at Madison. Farmers who boasted
that they were "practical" showed the same discouraging attitude
then that the farmers of Minnesota were to demonstrate later, but then, as
later, Haecker's eyes twinkled and his lips smiled and his jaw set, firmly
as he alternately cajoled, and pleaded-and accomplished his purpose.
Contrary to the
generally existing belief in agricultural circles, Mr. Haecker was not a young
man when he joined the staff of the Minnesota College of Agriculture, which
marked the beginning of his memorable career in dairy investigation. It was
in 1891, when he was 45 that he went to Minnesota, and at least a year later
before he was actively launched in the studies which brought fame to him,
and fortune to Minnesota.
But if his work
prior to joining the staff of Minnesota had brought him only local fame, it
was the groundwork which enabled him to make such rapid strides in his new
position. Starting with the purchase of a college herd, his work carried him
thru almost the entire gamut of dairy subjects.
The field for investigational work was almost unlimited. There was so much to learn, so many problems to solve. Production, manufacturing, marketing-this trio necessary to the dairy farmer's prosperity represented a fertile field for his analytical mind. It is difficult to estimate in which of the three his greatest contribution was made. Perhaps the manufacturing phase of the work received less of his personal attention, or perhaps because it received more attention from others, his contributions to our knowledge of dairy manufacturing earned less lasting fame than those dealing with the production and marketing angles.
he has done in manufacturing can compare with his work in formulating feeding
standards, nor with his accomplishments in marketing which the co-operative
creameries of his adopted state represent. His works dealing with the care,
feeding, and management of dairy cows are classics. Basic principles evolved
thru those years of painful study influence many a later work today.
The famous Haecker
feeding standards, the first devised in America, recognized one factor never
before considered in formulating such standards. Haecker recognized that more
feed is required to produce a given amount of rich milk than the same amount
of lower testing milk. So his feeding standard for dairy cows took into consideration
the size of animal, the amount, of milk, and its content of butterfat. His
keen observation and study with the university dairy herd also showed him
that the old Wolff-Lehmann and the Kellner standards, both developed in Germany,
required too much protein, Haecker's feeding standards, are substantially
the same as other standards now being used.
there has been no other who has worked with equal success in that field, Ins
organization of co-operative creameries stands as his greatest contribution
to the dairy industry. He had visioned the value of the farmer-owned factory
as a young man, but few in Minnesota shared that vision. At Clarks, Grove
he encountered a successful creamery of this type and occasionally he would
find one in his travels in the southern part of the state. Usually, though,
not only did he fail to find co-operative creameries but, harder to combat,
no co-operative sentiment. Where farmers were interested in cows at all, they
had been stung by promoters and were not anxious for any more experiences
which would cost them money.
But Haecker stuck
to his guns. Aided by a few creamery supply houses which were interested in
seeing creameries organized on a fairly sound foundation, and were willing
to extend credit to make this possible, Professor Haecker went, about the
state preaching the gospel of co-operative creameries. Whenever lie could
find an audience he would mount a soap box and, often in the face of a hostile
reception, would tell the, farmers that it was thru this type of organization
they must work out their financial salvation. Often he was forced to walk
long distances between towns because the funds available for such work would
permit the. use of no other kind of transportation. But to him it was his
mission on earth, and neither indifference nor weariness could swerve him
from his purpose. Eventually his sincerity and his common sense won farmers
to his cause, and one new co-operative creamery after another was organized.
It was his sound
pioneering in the co-operative field and his work of making Minnesota dairymen
appreciative of the possibilities of working together that made the Land o'Lakes
creameries a possibility. This immense co-operative selling organization is
handling the product of most of Minnesota's co-operatively owned creameries
and is building a reputation for butter of high quality. In 1928 it did a
business of $47,000,000, marketing more than 86,000,000 pounds of butter.
Today Mr. Haecker
is Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota, and has the leisure
to visit, his widely scattered family or to go over the scenes of his achievements.
Upon thousands of farms the principles of feeding which he evolved years ago
form the basis of good dairy practices.
Each day sees those thousands of farmers; served not, only by the 664 co-operative creameries which are the fruit of his early work, but by 226 other corporate or proprietary factories owned, for the most part, by men who have learned Haecker's doctrine that a successful creamery must serve the farmer well. Those 226 total creameries which last year manufactured approximately 275,000,000 pounds of butter that brought, to the farmers of Minnesota more than $125,000,000.
Other farmers in other states have also profited by the life and work of the gentle old man who smiles as he reads the name "Haecker Hall" upon the dairy building of a great university-the same modest smile with which he reads the announcement of every new honor heaped upon him.
W. A. Gordon is editor of The Dairy Record of St. Paul, Minnesota. For years his work has placed him in close touch with the development of the co-operative movement in the Northwest of which T. L. Haecker is well styled the "Father:' These contacts have placed Mr. Gordon in an. ideal position to sum up the results of this pioneer in co-operation.