Presentation on Clarendon Cheese Factory kicks off season at Historical Society

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Melissa Ierlan speaks last Wednesday evening about the Clarendon Cheese Factory at the Historical Society building in Clarendon.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 25 April 2017 at 9:40 am

This large tool was used in the Clarendon Cheese Factory for production.

CLARENDON – There was a full house at the Clarendon Historical Society last week as the 2017 special program season got underway with a very “cheesy” presentation by Town Historian and Historical Society President Melissa Ierlan.

She spoke about the Clarendon Cheese Factory which was opened in the mid-1890’s by George Tuttle. He had opened the first cheese factory in Orleans County on Telegraph Road in the Town of Murray before opening the Clarendon factory.

He died in 1899 and his son, Elmer, took over the business, but closed the factory a few years later.

In 1914, Herb Keople came to Clarendon, encouraged by William Inman, and built the Clarendon Cheese Factory, which was located on Hulberton Road just north of the Rt. 31A intersection. Ierlan said he ran the factory for 30 years.

Inman was a respected resident and the first who provided milk for the factory, thus encouraging other farmers to do so.  The factory building still stands on the same footprint, Ierlan said, but now is a private home.

She said Clarendon Cheese was known for its quality. Local milk was used and the high quality of local water which the cows drank was given credit for the flavor of the cheese.

Ierlan also explained that cheese factories were a common sight in small towns across New York State from the mid-1800’s on into the 20th century, as cheese production moved away from the home.

“There were more than 1,500 cheese factories (in NYS) after 1850,” Ierlan said.

She also mentioned the “Big Cheese Caper” – an incident in which the cheese factory was broken into and 30-pound wheels of Clarendon cheese stolen. Troopers arrested Medina men for the robbery after they discovered the cheese in the men’s car.

A slide shows the inside of the cheese factory during production.

Keople was very active in the Clarendon community serving as a town justice and member of the school board. He died in 1978 and is buried in Clarendon.

The Clarendon Historical Society has special programs scheduled through October on the third Wednesday of each month.

Appropriately, Clarendon Historical Society members served cheese and crackers during the presentation.

Those include Richard Reisem and Andy Olenick on June 21 discussing their book Erie Canal Legacy; Village of Bergen Historian Raymond MacConnell on July 19 speaking on taxidermist Joseph Santens; Marlies Adams DiFante, author of Queen of the Bremen on August 16; Michael T. Keene, author of Vietnam Reflections – The Untold Story of the Holley Boys, Sept. 20; and Ken McPherson on Oct. 18 speaking about the Charles Howard Santa Claus School.

The programs are free and open to the public and take place at the Clarendon Historical Society – 16426 Fourth Section Rd., at the intersection of Rt. 31A and Church Street.

Return to top