The Newton County Historical Society will mark part of the area's agricultural past, as it holds an ice cream social from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the schoolhouse, located at 101 N. Washington in Neosho.
"The purpose of the event is to highlight the role the dairy industry played in our area," said Mary Ann Jobe, the society's treasurer. "We will have a demonstration of the old-fashioned, hand-crank ice cream, that the kids can work until they get tired."
However, the creamy treat itself will be provided by Tim Mitchell and Anderson's Ice Cream. Other events will feature speakers such as Dick Day, former plant manager with Milnot in Seneca, and Bernadine Sprenkle, formerly with Pet Milk, about the condensed milk industry in the area. State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, himself a dairy farmer, will talk about the milk supplier end, Jobe said.
"Anyone who wishes to share their stories about the dairy industry in the area are welcome to do so," Jobe said.
At one time, Newton County had more milk cows than any other county in the Ozarks, with the exception of Greene County, according to a 1920s survey by the Frisco Railroad's agriculture development department, as noted by local historian Wes Franklin.
"The dairy industry in Newton County really had its beginnings in the 1870s, with the Jersey breed being dominant at first," Franklin wrote in his "That History Guy" column, published in Sunday's Daily News. "It was later replaced by the Guernsey and the Holstein.
In 1912, before the local dairy industry even really kicked off big, Newton County exported 50,947 gallons (not pounds) of milk and cream, 28,913 pounds of butter, and 6,380 gallons of ice cream. Those numbers, reported by the Missouri Bureau of Labor Statistics, did not include any commodity sold or consumed within Newton County, which means the actual totals would have been quite a bit higher."
The event is held in conjunction with June's being National Dairy Month, Jobe said.
The society plans other "show and share" events this summer. August's event will feature antique dolls, while the one in September will focus on antique toys other than dolls. Programs on the Civil War and Vietnam are planned for October and November, respectively.