Moo News

How Did Graves Dairy Get Started?

Do you ever wonder how Graves Dairy got started? William Charles Graves, Sr. was born in Illinois 1861 and was orphaned at 9 years old. He was adopted into a general store family in Pekin, Illinois, where he started learning about the path from farm to store. W.C. Graves, Sr. married his wife, Arista Rose in Illinois, and then in the early 1890’s, they headed West!

They explored the beauty of Colorado- even going as far as Steamboat Springs! Ultimately, William and Arista loved Bellvue and they bought 160 acres in the valley below Poudre Canyon. One major reason – The beautiful mountains on one side and the Cache La Poudre River on the other. They went back to Illinois and it took a year for them to sell their General Store and return to Bellvue. When they returned, the Graves started farming right away- mainly beets, corn, and alfalfa alongside their few cows.

W.C. and Arista had a son named Charlie who went to Pleasant Valley School, built in 1879 on the farm and then graduated from Cache La Poudre High School in 1913. Charlie grew up and took over the farm, marrying Helen Whiting who had graduated from Colorado A&M and was a Home Economics teacher at Laporte High School. In 1933, they had their first child, Robert (a.k.a. Lil’ Bob or Dr. Bob later in life), through a rather difficult birth.

To help them deal with the mounting medical costs, they started selling and delivering milk! They would separate and bottle the milk entirely in their basement. This was relatively new– milk delivery didn’t become popular until during World War II, so there was a lot of figuring out to do! As their milk delivery took off, Helen and Charlie would expand their bottling process, and their farm. Just goes to show that though life can be challenging, hard work and determination can create something to be proud of!