AURORA’S CHEESE INDUSTRY
Aurora, in fact Portage County, has a long history with cheese—making it, trading it, and selling it all around the world, from Canada, to England, to China as well as throughout the United States. Aurora is, in reality, the oldest cheese producing town in the state, as men took cheese in wagon loads through forests and rut-covered roads to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as early as 1811 & in 1819 dealers shipped their cheese down the Ohio River to southern cities. Aurora residents did produce their own cheese and dairy products, but the largest part of this industry was produced outside the township & the village of Aurora served as the collection point as well as the shipping point.
1808—Samuel Forward discussed his Aurora farm in his letter to Israel Phelps of Granby, Connecticut, …”The country we live in is good [,] very handsome, but heavy timbered. I have between 50 and 60 acres cleared off smooth and fenced into suitable fields and mowing…Two tons of hay on an acre here is no great thing it is good wheat rye or corn. I picked on our acre 76 bushels of Indian corn…I keep 9 cows. We have made 1000 weight of good cheese this summer and are making yet. Oliver had made five hundred weight of cheese this season. Our cheese weigh from 20 to 30 pounds each. I have a good flock of sheep of about 20… My orchard grows well. I have a 1000 apple trees and a number of peach trees.”
Susannah Forward also helped her husband and commented on the work, ”I must inform you that the summer past I have made more cheese than I ever made before in one year. We shall greatly increase our stock of cows another year, perhaps enough to make 2 tons of cheese which in Pittsburgh will bring $500 in money…” (AHS 10-26-1808–Susanna Forward to Hezekiah Holcomb, Granby, CT)
1808-1810—Chauncey Eggleston and Ebenezer Sheldon took cheese to Pittsburgh and traded for salt, iron nails, etc.
1811– Ebenezer Sheldon quote…”We have made some cheese which I expect to sell for money soon enough to pay our taxes. My team is now gone to Pittsburgh with a load and we shall have made contact to take it here at our house at ten cents per pound…” (AHS 08-19-1811)