Logan County History: Hopewell Dairy

By: Mary E. Mortimer
Hopewell Dairy began in 1907 when John Fredrick “J. Fred” and Lydia Wish began selling milk from their cow. Mr. Wish, who worked as a machinist at the Big Four Railroad Shops, took extra milk to work and sold it to his coworkers. Soon he began selling and delivering their extra milk with his horse and buggy to other customers.
The Wish children, Frank, Paul, Mary, and Eula all worked with their father on the family dairy farm. In the 1930’s, they increased the family’s herd to 30 dairy cows. In 1941, they opened the Hopewell Dairy retail store and restaurant at 1100 Carlisle St. in Bellefontaine. The dairy was a large operation that processed and bottled milk and made ice cream for their customers in their store and on their dairy routes. They also sold their products wholesale to outside retailers. Hopewell Dairy also provided milk to Logan and other county schools until about 1976.
In the early 1940s, Frank and Martha Wish took over the management of Hopewell Dairy. When their children, John and Judy, were old enough, they worked at the family dairy business. In January of 1949, Hopewell Dairy, Bordens, and Startzman’s Dairy instituted a six-day milk delivery program. Customers could receive their milk on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but not on Sundays. The plan made it possible for route salesman and plant employees to spend every Sunday with their families.
J. Fred Wish passed away in December of 1949. The Wish family incorporated Hopewell Milk Co. and Hopewell Ice Cream Co. in 1952. They further enlarged their dairy in 1959 with the purchase of the Miami County Dairy in Covington, Ohio.
Hopewell Dairy was known for its banana splits, frosted malts, “Humdinger Milkshakes”, sherbets, and their many flavors of ice cream including butter pecan, peach, chocolate almond cluster, and chocolate chip mint. Their bananas all had hidden prices taped on them ranging from free to 50 cents. When you picked your banana, whatever price was on the paper was the cost of your banana split. For the more adventurous, you could try a “Pig’s Dinner” banana split served in a wooden “hog trough” that featured five flavors of ice cream and several toppings. If you could finish it, you received an “I was a pig at Hopewell Dairy” badge.
During the summer months, many of the campers from Camp Willson walked the 2.5 miles to Hopewell Dairy for ice cream cones. Hopewell Dairy was a popular place for lunch or an after-dinner dessert. During the school year, many children toured the facility and enjoyed an ice cream treat.
In May 1956, Frank Wish established a $1,000 continuing scholarship in dairy technology at Ohio State University. The scholarship was effective that year and was payable for $250 per year to a Logan County student selected by the University’s Dairy Technology Department.
Hopewell Dairy purchased the wholesale and retail milk routes of the Maple Drive Dairy, West Liberty in February 1957. Their routes served Springhills, St. Paris, Urbana, North Lewisburg, and West Liberty. Maple Drive Dairy routemen Evan Blosser and Gary King were retained.
In July of 1958, a fire destroyed the 120’ x 40’ Quonset building they used for supplies, equipment storage, and maintenance. Consumed in the fire were quantities of milk cartons and ice cream boxes as well as ice cream and refrigeration supplies. Several compressors and motors were also destroyed. Plans were made to construct a new storage building right away.
In 1961, the Wish family sold their dairy to Hawthorn Mellody Dairy of Chicago, Illinois, but Frank remained president and general manager until his death in 1962.
Hopewell Dairy continued its operation after Frank’s death. Minor renovations were made in 1966. Manager Paul Blair said, “The walls have been paneled to the ceiling, and a new soda fountain has been installed, including two modern dipping cabinets.”
In 1968, Hopewell Dairy shut down its milk bottling business and shipped its raw milk to Royal Crest Dairy in Dayton, Ohio, also owned by Hawthorn Mellody Co. of Chicago, Illinois. At this time, Hopewell Dairy had 62 full and part-time employees, 23 delivery routes in Logan County, and 13 more in Covington. A that time, Hopewell Dairy had been distributing approximately 162,000 gallons of milk per month. The plant was still used as a distribution center.
Hopewell Dairy was a popular location to purchase dairy products, and enjoy a meal or a delicious ice cream treat. Despite its popularity, the Hopewell Dairy retail store and restaurant closed in the mid-1970s.
Visit the Logan County History Center to learn more interesting aspects of Logan County history.
The History Center is open for tours Wednesday – Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.