C.H. Dahl & Sons, Sweet Clover Dairy, Roosevelt, L.I.

Charles H. Dahl was a life-long dairyman who, according to his obituary, published in the April 2, 1948 edition of the “Roosevelt Press:”

entered the dairy business at the age of 12 years and carried on until about two years ago (1946) when he received a leg injury which forced him to go into retirement.

According to Sweet Clover Dairy advertisements published in later years, Dahl founded the business in 1888. Originally located in East New York, Brooklyn, Dahl moved to Roosevelt, Long Island sometime around 1910.

Dahl was not listed in the Brooklyn directories during the initial years but census records from 1900 listed his occupation as a “milk dealer” living on Linwood Street in the East New York section of the borough. His obituary went on to say:

Dahl was of the old school of dairymen who believed that the milk in order to be good had to be produced at the source of bottling…

This belief may have gotten Dahl in trouble from time to time. According to a story in the October 15, 1903 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle entitled “Jail for Selling Bad Milk,” that year he was convicted and sent to jail for selling adulterated or impure milk.

…Many of the milk dealers who have been convicted of selling adulterated or impure milk declare the wholesalers are responsible for the impurity and the Health Department inspectors have been doubly watchful in their efforts to trace the guilty one. They managed to get one wholesaler before the court yesterday and he will spend the next thirty days in the Kings County Jail. He was Charles H. Dahl of 860 Liberty Avenue, who was arrested July 8. Half a dozen milk dealers whom Dahl had been supplying for years were on hand to testify against the man. One was a man named Meyer,  who has already paid $725 in fines. Meyer had been convicted three times of selling adulterated milk and once for selling without the necessary permit from the Department of Health. He had been selling Dahl’s milk…

Dahl was convicted on this charge and sent to jail for thirty days, Justice Flemming dissenting. On two other charges sentence was suspended. Assistant Corporation Counsel Wilson said:

“I think the man is a flagrant lawbreaker and he ought to go to jail.”

At least half a dozen dealers who sold Dahl’s milk have been convicted recently in the Court of Special Sessions”

Two years later, the October 4, 1905 edition of the “City Record” announced that two of Dahl’s permits had been revoked. They were:

No. 1165 – A permit to keep 3 cows at the north side of Linwood Street, 165 feet south of Stanley Avenue and

No. 2545 A permit to sell milk at the north side of Linwood Street, 165 feet south of Stanley Avenue.

Dahll remained in  Brooklyn  through at least 1910. That year, census records listed him as a “dairyman” living on Barbey Street, also in East New York. By 1915, the New York State census listed Dahl, along with his two sons, Charles H. Dahl Jr. and Frederick Dahl, in Roosevelt. So sometime between 1910 and 1915 (his obituary says 1910) they moved to Long Island and established the Sweet Clover Dairy, where according to his obituary he operated with as many as 350 cows at one time,

During his early years on Long Island, Dahl’s  troubles with the Department of Health continued. The December 31, 1915 edition of the Nassau County Review reported “Milk Dealer Held for Grand Jury”

Charles Dahl who runs the dairy on Washington Avenue, Roosevelt, was arrested Thursday on complaint of Health Officer Runcie of Freeport on the charge of putting wrong labels on bottles. The case was reported to the State Board of Health and the State Sanitary supervisor, Dr. Overton of Patchogue, made an additional inspection with Dr. Runcie and after an analysis of the milk forbade Dahl using any labels marked Grade A, and gave him one week to get labels marked Grade C. Dr. Runcie states that three days later they found Dahl again carrying milk in the Village of Freeport labeled Grade A, and therefore a warrant was sworn out for his arrest. He was taken before Judge Norton, who held him under $200 bail for examination before the Grand Jury. Bail was furnished by his father.

The fact that his father bailed him out leads me to believe that it was actually Charles, Jr. who was arrested. Despite this early transgression, the company seems to have enjoyed a long and successful history in Roosevelt.

Charles Sr. was still listed as the proprietor in the 1940 census records, but it appears that during much of their time on Long Island, it was Charles Jr. who managed the business. Frederick, was also involved but apparently not at the same level of responsibility.

According to a December 1948 advertisement for the Sweet Clover Dairy:

In 1888, Sweet Clover Dairy was founded by Charles H. Dahl. For the past 30 years, his son, Charles H. Dahl Jr., has built expanded and modernized the plant, facilities and methods of operation of Sweet Clover Dairy.

This would put Dahl Jr in a lead management position sometime in the mid to late teens. It was about this time that the business  began expanding by purchasing another delivery route in the Village of Freeport.  According to a news item under the heading “Freeport” in the April 7, 1916 edition of the Nassau County Review:

A.S. Mott has sold his milk business to C.H. Dahl of Roosevelt, who will operate the route in connection with his present milk business.

One of Sweet Clover Dairy’s advertising slogans was “Produced in Nassau for Nassau Consumption” and by the mid 1940’s, the company was operating a total of 10 delivery routes in the county. In addition to routes in Roosevelt and Freeport, they were also operating routes in the Nassau County communities of Lynbrook, Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Baldwin, Merrick, Hempstead and Uniondale.

Dahl Sr.’s obituary went on to say that in the mid to late 1940’s  the business significantly upgraded their  facilities.

Just before Mr. Dahl took sick, his son Charles H. Jr., decided to erect one of the most modern dairies in the country at Roosevelt, for pasteurizing and bottling of milk. The old milk method of having to have cows at the place of bottling has passed away more and more each day, due to the advancement of science and the help of the New York State Department of Health, until today the bacteria count in your daily milk has been cut to almost nothing.

The open house invitation “to view and inspect the new, modern pasteurization plant of the Sweet Clover Dairy” read in part:

Since last year the Sweet Clover Dairy has constructed the most unique milk processing plant on Long Island. Unique in respect that the complete milk processing operation, (without the touch of a human hand) is done in front of large plate glass picture widows, open at all times to the public’s eye.

The invitation included this rendering of the new plant and from appearances the business had come a long way from their Department of Health issues of the early 20th century.

The plant opened in the Spring of 1948 and continued under the Sweet Clover Dairy name . According tp Dahl, Sr.’s obituary:

It will serve as a monument to a man who gave a life service to his one and only love – the dairy business.

Charles H. Dahl Jr died in May 1971 and his wife continued to own the business for a number of years after his death. As far as I can tell the Sweet Clover Dairy was still in operation at 200 Nassau Road as late as 1979 and possibly longer.

The dairy was apparently located at the terminus of Washington Ave in a triangular plot formed by Nassau Road, Babylon Turnpike and West Centennial Avenue. Today that area is occupied by the Roosevelt Senior Center and there is no sign of the former dairy.

The bottle is a machine made, round quart bottle. It’s embossing includes the Roosevelt L.I. location so it dates no earlier than 1910. Based on this 1940 advertisement, the dairy was still using the round bottle type in the early 1940’s. By the late 1940’s, their advertisements exhibit a square bottle with a cream top.

This range is confirmed and further refined by the makers mark of “A.B.C.2” embossed on the bottle. It stands for the Atlantic Bottle Co., who, according to information on the Society of Historical Archeology’s web site, used that mark between 1918 and 1931.

Post Updated: May 15, 2024…Thanks to Charles H. Dahl’s Great Grandson for providing some additional information after reading the initial version of this post.