The Great Butter Company

Probably the most gigantic enterprise that ever agitated Hopkinsville, and which was equal to, if it did not surpass any scheme ever conceived by Col. Mulberry Sellers, was the great butter company. The following explanation is necessary to fully understand the ponderous bubble, and how it ultimately burst: A patent had been secured by a Mrs. D. H. McGregory, of Detroit, Mich., for making two pounds of butter out of one pound, and one pint of milk. This patent she sold to J. H. Fields and R. T. Coffey, of Ashley, Ill., for the United States. These enterprising gentlemen issued a circular which they scattered broadcast over the country, and some of Hopkinsville’s alert business men bit at the tempting bait, and of course were in the end themselves ” bitten.” The circular was as follows: ” BUTTER. An improved method of making butter, for which letters patent No. 68639 were issued to the inventor, dated September 10, 1867, consists in compounding certain well-known and simple articles with common butter and milk, in the following proportions: one pound of butter to one pound (or pint) of milk, producing in from six to ten minutes’ common churning a little over two pounds of  ‘sweet, fresh and wholesome butter,’ appearing like ordinary new butter, proving the same non-adhesive character, so that it will come from the churn freely, leaving nothing behind as a residual product. Nothing is contained in the preparation but simple articles of diet, which are used by every family in the country at almost every meal, and are entirely harmless. As the cost of producing good butter by this method is but a trifle over ‘half the price of common butter,’ and as butter is one of the great staples of the country, costing every family more than flour, wood or meat, it is not difficult to comprehend the utility and great value of this invention. Any one desiring to purchase State or county rights can see samples of butter manufactured on short notice, or can make it themselves under our directions,” etc. This was signed by Fields & Coffey, of Ashley, Ill.

The right for the State of Kentucky was purchased in Hopkinsville, and a company formed known as Brown, Glass & Co. The incorporators were, J. R. Merritt, B. M. Harrison, John P. Glass, James C. Glass, J. A. F. Brown, J. D. Steele, E. L. Foulks, James E. Jesup, T. H. Harned, F. B. Harned, T. F. Brown, H. W. Killen, John W. Mills, G. W. Rives-fourteen all told, which at $250 each amounted to $3,500 for the State. A pretty good thing for Messrs. Fields & Coffey, of Ashley, Ill., but a rather poor investment for Brown, Glass & Co., as it turned out. They sold a number of county rights, and were on the point of selling Louisville and Jefferson County for $6,000, when the thing exploded. Some of the agents of Fields & Coffey traveled South and were about to sell a State right to some large dairy company, but who first proposed to test the matter thoroughly. They did so, and sure enough the pound of butter and pint of milk made two pounds of butter, but upon fully testing and working it, it went back to the original state-one pound of butter and one pint of milk. And upon similar tests similar results were produced everywhere.

When the result of practical tests became known, the great bubble burst, and Brown, Glass & Co. sat down and wept (metaphorically speaking) over the ruins of their castles in Spain. Mr. T. F. Brown, who was the Treasurer of the concern, has a picture-a photograph which he preserves with great care, as a relic and souvenir of the defunct butter company. It represents him in conversation with Mr. L. A. Waller, who is sitting upon his horse in front of Mr. Brown’s store door, and who had 13 purchased a County right for which he had given the horse upon which he sat. What prompted them to have the picture taken we do not know, unless to keep as a memento to the folly of speculation. And if it is a remedy for that evil-an evil that is running riot everywhere, and ruining thousands upon thousands of people-it would be well to have the picture copied, and place one in nearly every house in the country.  


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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