“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Walney Dairy

19th Century Dairying: A Cottage Industry

The Walney Dairy Marker image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2006
1. The Walney Dairy Marker

Before the Civil War, the Machen women and a slave named Sally made butter for the family in this room every week. By 1880 the farm was making butter for commercial sale and men did the work.

In the room to your left, several keelers filled with milk probably sat on work tables in the center of the room. Keelers were shallow so cream could rise to the top of the container within 24 hours. Cream was collected from the keelers in the morning with a skimmer and held in cans in the brick vat until ready for buttermaking. The Machenís probably used a box or barrel churn. After about 30 minutes of hard work, tiny bits of butterfat would stick together and separate from the “buttermilk.” The butter was then rinsed and worked with a paddle to remove more buttermilk. Finally, it was salted, pressed into a container, and decorated with a print from a buttermold.


The room on your right was crowded with cheesemaking tools. Sitting against one wall was probably a cheese vat, a container used to process the milk. A heater or stovepipe under the vat heated the milk to make it curdle. As it curdled, the milk separated into solid curd and liquid whey. Curd knives cut the solid curd to release more whey. The Machenís probably drained
The Walney Dairy Marker image. Click for full size.
June 15, 2008
2. The Walney Dairy Marker
Walney House is visible in the background.
the excess whey from the vat and used it for animal feed.

After a second chopping to remove more whey, the curd was pressed into cheese hoops. These hoops, lined with cloth to absorb whey, gave the cheese shape. The hoops were placed in the four-station cheese press. This device applied equal and increased pressure to the cheese hoops and squeezed out more whey. When pressing was complete, the cheese wheels were removed from the hoops and stored and aged before going to market.
Erected by Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Fairfax County Park Authority.
Location. 38° 51.683′ N, 77° 25.881′ W. Marker is in Chantilly, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Walney Road. Touch for map. Marker is located in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5040 Walney Road, Chantilly VA 20151, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named The Walney Dairy (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named The Walney Dairy (a few steps from this marker); Walney House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Walney Outbuildings
The Cheesemaking Room image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2006
3. The Cheesemaking Room
(about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (about 400 feet away); The Cross Farmhouse (approx. half a mile away); On This Site (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chantilly.
More about this marker. The marker features sketches of all the tools that are highlighted in bold in the text. The marker also has three photos: on the lower left is an uncaptioned photo of the buttermaking room, on the lower right is an uncaptioned photo of the cheesemaking room and also on the lower right (partially overlaying the previous photo) is a photo of a cheese press captioned, "This cheese press was uncovered when the dairy was cleaned out. It was probably used by the Machens to produce cheese for local markets."
Also see . . .  Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. (Submitted on June 16, 2008.)
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & Commerce
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 16, 2008. This page has been viewed 962 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 16, 2008. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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