Picture a Maple Grove where townhomes are replaced with farms and horse-drawn carriages serve as transportation. This is the Maple Grove of the early 1900s. Caroline Schaefer, vice president of the Maple Grove Historical Preservation Society, remembers a Maple Grove full of farms and creameries.
One of the larger sources of milk in the area was the Maple Leaf Creamery, operated by Fred Rohe on the property of Oscar Ziebarth. Rohe moved to Maple Grove from Pennsylvania with his wife to start a farm.
Luckily, their home was directly across the road from the creamery, making it easier for Rohe to tend his farm and work each day transporting 10-gallon milk containers via horse drawn carts to his customers.
“Fred was a very progressive man,” Schaefer says. Small creameries and farmers were paid inconsistently, so when he saw an opportunity to improve his business, he took it. He gathered area farmers to advocate for better prices.
Rohe was also instrumental in providing Minneapolis with fresh milk. He helped create the Twin City Milk Producers Association, serving as president for many years. According to records held at the University of Minnesota Extension offices, in 1917 the cooperative was attacked for “the offense of representing farmers” to sell their milk collectively. The association no longer exists, but other associations in the state continue Rohe’s goal of fair pricing for farmers.
The Maple Leaf Creamery stood close to where Dairy Queen is today. It seems the love of dairy lives on in Maple Grove.