In the 1920’s, Arnold Hildebrand left his home in Switzerland for Kansas City. Opportunity was waiting for him, but so was someone else. Rose, his sweetheart from home, was already working in the city and soon after his arrival the young couple was married. They built a home and started a family.
Arnold was working as a skilled machinist for the Union Pacific Railroad and was eventually transferred out of the city to Junction City, Kansas. With the busy streets traded for expansive pastures, the couple started looking for ways to generate more income for their growing family and settle into the country life that now surrounded them.
So in the 1930’s, the family bought four cows, applied for a license to sell milk out of glass bottles, and started on an adventure which is still going strong for the third and fourth generations of Hildebrands who still call Junction City home. The family dairy has changed considerably over the years. Those four cows have grown to 150. Instead of selling to their neighbors, they sell milk in over 40 stores in Kansas as well as from their own storefront at their Dairy. However, an important piece of family history seemed to be missing, and that was Arnold and his original glass bottles. So in 2008, the family dairy decided to go back to its roots and focus on selling the best, highest-quality milk possible in the iconic glass bottle.
Arnold’s legacy now lives on in his grandchildren Alan and David. David Hildebrand focuses on farming the 2,000 acres of land that provide the dairy cows with high-quality feed while Alan focuses on making sure all of the milking and bottling run smoothly. Together with their children they are continuing that family farming legacy that their grandparents started back in the 1930’s.
The operation is a little bigger now than it was in the 1930’s. With seven different flavors ranging from traditional, chocolate, rootbeer, straweberry, or eggnog , the type of milk sure has changed. But one thing hasn’t. Arnold’s legacy and dream of providing for his family through a humble glass bottle of fresh milk is still very much alive.
Scott Stebner is an agricultural photographer who produces agriculture photos that stand out from the rest of the industry.