Pasteurized Of The Past: Happy Valley

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - by Harmon Jolley

The lifetimes of John L. Hutcheson Sr. and his son, John L. Hutcheson, Jr., spanned the years 1867 to 1980. Each became a successful business and civic leader, and each contributed to the growth of north Georgia and Chattanooga. John L. Sr. was one of the founders of the Peerless Woolen Mills in Rossville, GA. He was also a well-known cattle breeder in Chattanooga Valley.

After the elder Hutcheson died, his son stepped in to manage the family businesses. In February, 1936, John L. Hutcheson, Jr. established a milk-processing plant as an extension of his dairy farm. The brand name “Happy Valley” was familiar to Chattanooga area consumers for many years thereafter.

Happy Valley’s first appearance in the city directory was in 1937, when it advertised that its milk came from “only pure-bred Jersey cows.” The business address was simply “Dry Valley Road, Rossville.” Competitors of Happy Valley included Grant-Patten, the Home Stores Creamery, Cream Top Dairy, and Signal Creamery.

A few years after Happy Valley began operation, two men joined the company to begin long-term careers there. Sam Turner became vice-president, and Sanford E. Leake joined the company as secretary-treasurer. Mr. Leake had worked as the paymaster at Peerless Woolen Mills. In 1946, the management team led Happy Valley through an expansion, as a new $225,000, 33,000 square-foot milk-processing plant was constructed on McFarland Avenue in Rossville. The building allowed Happy Valley to double the volume of milk pasteurized each day to 12,000 gallons.

At the same that his milk business was growing, the dairy cows owned by John L. Hutcheson, Jr. were earning top honors. At the 1948 All-American Jersey cow show in Columbus, Ohio, Happy Valley Farms earned both the premier breeder’s and premier exhibitor’s awards.

Mr. Hutcheson honored the memory of his father by leading the drive that established the Hutcheson Medical Center. He also was a leader in the 4-H program, which helped to pass along his knowledge of dairy farming.

Many area school children remember Happy Valley Farms as a field trip destination. The company invited classes to tour its dairy farm, and set up picnic tables where fresh Happy Valley milk products were distributed. The students were already familiar with the ½ pint of Happy Valley milk that was sold in the school cafeteria.

Like its competitors, Happy Valley operated a home milk delivery service for many years. The last delivery made by a Happy Valley milk man was on August 29, 1972. 6,000 homes had to switch to buying their milk at the store. Sanford Leake, who by then had become president of Happy Valley, noted in a Chattanooga Times interview that home delivery of milk had begun in the days before pasteurization. “In the old days, that was the only way city dwellers could get their milk and dairy products.” Mr. Leake also recalled that grocery stores once delivered all of their products directly to the homes of customers.

In 1973, Happy Valley itself faced changing times, as the milk-processor became a division of Flav-O-Rich. While one cannot find Happy Valley-brand milk at the dairy aisle today, Happy Valley Farms still runs a dairy farm in the Rossville area.

If you have memories of Happy Valley, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net. Anyone have old photos of their school class on a field trip to Happy Valley?


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