Local resident Bill Baab’s belief that Haskell’s Dairy was the premiere dairy farm in Aiken is jokingly validated by a poem dedicated to the farm.

“When the Lord found babies coming, he knew that they must eat. He made them milk like Haskell’s – results could not be beat,” the poem reads.

Baab spoke Saturday at the Aiken County Historical Museum about Haskell’s and the 15 other dairy farms that are featured in his newest book, “The Retail Dairies of Aiken, Columbia & Richmond Counties.”

According to Baab, dairies supported the economy after many diseases became associated with unclean milk.

“Dairies filled a need and as more and more people got into it, dairy farmers saw a way to make a little extra money aside from crops,” Baab said.

He explained that dairies continued growing through the late nineteenth century into the twentieth century until the 1950s when supermarkets started selling milk everyday versus having milk delivered once a week.

Eventually, Baab added, large companies like Bordens and Pet started buying out small dairies and the dairies transitioned from retail to wholesale.

“Once the dairies stopped delivering, the milk bottles and caps became quite collectible,” he said.

Baab donated his entire collection of 531 bottles – a large amount of them being milk bottles – to the Augusta Museum of History.

Local residents listened closely to the details of dairy farms, including Joe Odum who said he remembers the dairies from when his family moved to the area in 1952.

“Things like these dairies all relate to the history of the area and that’s always been pretty interesting to me,” he said. “Listening to Bill talk about the dairies was really great.

Currently, there is an exhibit that highlights the dairies with stories and bottles and other memorabilia. The exhibit is located on the main floor of the Aiken County Historical Museum and will remain through mid-September.

Brenda Baratto, the executive director of the museum, added, “I remember milk being delivered, and that experience speaks to a time that wasn’t that long ago. So this was just a good opportunity to share a little of that with the people of Aiken County.”

Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University.