Delaware Agricultural Museum
Delaware Agricultural Museum

Dairying in Delaware Exhibit


During the early nineteenth century, most Delaware families owned at least one dairy cow. Families with extra milk often shared with less fortunate neighbors. Besides drinking milk, families used milk to make butter and cheese, and to feed chickens and hogs. By the 1850’s, “butter dairies” became profitable in northern New Castle County.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century a number of significant dairy-related inventions were introduced. The first American patent for an ice cream freezer was registered in 1848. Evaporated milk and a method for drying milk were introduced in the 1850’s. By 1878, the glass milk bottle had been developed. These and other discoveries led to the marketing of dairy products.

At the turn of the century, when the once-important peach crops were ruined, many Delaware farmers became involved in dairying. In particular, tenant farmers (renters) found dairying to be profitable since they did not have to share with their landlords any money earned from their dairy cattle. As a result, farmers began selling their products to local creameries. By 1901, at least fifteen creameries were making butter commercially in Delaware.

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Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village
866 N Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901

Daily Hours: 

Tues. to Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Closed Sunday & Monday

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