South Green Grove

Cooperative Dairy Association
& Mandel's Cheese Factory


Harold, Howard and Halbert "Bud" Hardrath Remember.........



Mandel Cheese Factory (ca. 1915)


Left to Right: Alfred Mandel, Selma Klessig (hired girl), Barbara Mandel, Leo Mandel, Arnold Mandel, Dave Mandel



Dave Mandel owned and operated a cheese factory on the north east corner of his father-in-law Frank Brecker’s farm, about ¼ mile west of the Herman Hardrath farm where the road came form the east and stopped. A logging road from the Hardrath farm west was used to get to the factory. The factory was built about 1912 and began operating in 1913. Dave died in 1917 at age 38 from the flu during the epidemic in WW I. Dave’s wife Barbara and son Alfred operated the factory until they sold it in 1929, as per Alfred Mandel.


About 1920 a group of neighborhood farmers organized the South Green Grove Cooperative Dairy Association (SGGCDA) and built a cheese factory on the south west corner of Herman Hardrath’s farm, across the road from the Mandel factory. The first cheese maker was Oscar Bragstead. The factory operated successfully at that location until in 1929. The neighbors were at a party at Ernie Alexander’s, when the factory caught fire and burned. The Coop bought the Mandel Cheese Factory and continued to operate there until about 1940. In about 1934 Eph Oman bought the vacant lot where the original coop factory burned and moved a store building on it and operated a grocery store. There was no electric service in the area and Eph used a gas refrigerator. In 1938, when REA brought electric service to the area, Eph began selling beer along with groceries. Eph put a water pressure system on his well and cooled the beer with well water flowing through a tank where he placed the beer. He also sold pop. My father and I were in the store one forenoon when the distributor for Pepsi Cola came. He bought my dad and me each a Pepsi. That was the first time I tasted Pepsi. Pepsi had a jingle that was sung and played on the radio. It was as I remember, “Pepsi Cola hits the spot. Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot. Twice as much for nickel too. Pepsi Cola is the drink for you.” Can you imagine a 12 ounce soft drink for 5 cents?  In later years the store was converted to a tavern. Subsequent owners were Carl Knecht and Mary Belding. When Mary died, the tavern closed and later burned.


In about 1940 the factory at the second location burned when fire started over the boiler room area. The fire broke out in the early evening when we were milking. Ernest Looser was the cheese maker at this time. The SGGCDA bought the Atwood Cheese Factory located ½ mile west of Atwood on the corner of the County Hwy N and North Sparrow Ave. At the time of the fire Charley Witt was President of the Coop. Prior to Charley, Herman Hardrath had been the President for many years. Adolph Molle was the Treasurer. He wrote the farmers their twice monthly “Milk Check”. The Coop operated at this location for several years but due to changing processing and marketing of dairy products they joined the Medford Cooperative, a much lager cooperative, and closed the Atwood location. The Medford Coop later joined Land O Lakes. Fred Becker bought the Atwood Factory property and opened a tavern in the former cheese factory building. The building burned and another building was moved in and remodeled into the tavern that is there today.


             The Cheese Makers were:

                        Oscar Bragstad

                        Ferdinand Marx

Art Reineking    [Harold Hardrath worked for Art in the

   Cheese factory in the years 1932 -1936

   and learned the cheese making trade.]

                        Ernest Looser

                        Harry Witt



This is Oral History. The places, events, dates and people as we remember them.

Halbert “Bud” Hardrath; May 2005



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