Fairmont Foods

The Fairmont Creamery Company was incorporated March 29, 1884, in Fairmont, Fillmore County. The company was founded for the production and sale of butter, eggs, and poultry by Wallace Wheeler, an implement dealer, and by Joseph H. Rushton, a Fairmont attorney. Local townspeople and farmers owned the remainder of the total stock of five thousand dollars. From a small business, the company became one of the nation’s largest food processors, later known as Fairmont Foods.

During 1884 and 1885 the creamery operated only in the summer months due to a lack of raw materials. However, the company was soon a profitable enterprise for its stockholders. Its first product was butter. It was under the able direction of Edgar F. Howe that the butter produced in Fairmont was recognized nationally for its excellence. During the next few years the Fairmont Creamery Company started six new plants in southeastern Nebraska towns, beginning in Crete in 1889.

The Fairmont Creamery Company continued its rapid expansion after 1900. The general offices were moved from Fairmont to Omaha on January 1, 1907. The company eventually opened more than three thousand cream stations throughout the United States that provided a market for farmers’ home-separated cream. The company sold a complete line of dairy products as well as eggs, poultry, fresh and frozen vegetables, and ice. By the mid-1930s Fairmont produced more than thirty products.

The Fairmont Creamery Company was always a leader in innovative products. It was the first creamery in the United States to use the Babcock test (later standard in the industry) to determine the percentage of butterfat content in cream. In 1920 it created what was believed to be the first refrigerated ice cream delivery truck in the country. Fairmont was a leader in the dairy industry for its excellent quality control in production and its progressive ideas.

In the twentieth century the company diversified. Processing dairy products, eggs, poultry, vegetables, and snack foods, it changed its name in 1947 from the Fairmont Creamery Company to the Fairmont Foods Company. By 1959 Fairmont Foods was among the country’s five hundred largest corporations. The company moved its headquarters to Houston in 1974, and in 1980, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of American Financial Corporation.

From 1907 to 1968 the original creamery building was a medical office for Doctors Sherman F. Ashby, who came to Nebraska in 1885, Albert A. Ashby, and Charles F. Ashby. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. 

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