When the Pilgrims voyaged to America in 1620, they made sure that the Mayflower was stocked with cheese. It came together with its cargo of goats.
Cheese making in North America and specifically in the United States, remained a farmhouse process throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In 1841, Anne Pickett established Wisconsin’s first cheese factory. In 1851 an entrepreneur Jesse William had built the New York’s first cheese factory near Rome, Oneida County, New York and introduced production in a grand scale. He revolutionized commercial cheese making. The ‘factory’ was simply his farm. He had a reputation for making exceptional cheese, so his neighbors would send him their milk so that he could make cheese for them.
Williams regulated the timing as well as the temperature for converting milk to curds, regardless of volume. By combining the milk and producing large cheeses, he could achieve a uniform taste and texture.
During the early part of the year 1860, Samuel Perry, of New York City, a native of Herkimer, and one of the earliest operators in the cheese trade, endeavored to control the market, purchasing the great bulk of cheese manufactured in the country. In 1867, Robert McAdam introduced the English Cheddar system in a factory near Herkimer, New York. This introduction made Herkimer County famous for its cheese.
For many years during this period, the largest cheese market in world as at Little Falls, New York. By 1875 there were more than 500 cheese factories in New York State alone.
The industry moved westward, centering on the rich farmlands of Wisconsin, where the American cheese industry really took off.
In 1878, a German immigrant named Julius Wettstein started a cheese factory in Monroe, New York, where he produced a fine line of German, French and Swiss types that were traded over the entire length of the Erie Canal.
History of cheese industry in United States