Pevely’s Claim to Fame – The Pevely Dairy Company

Casper Heinrich Kerckhoff, son of Peter and Anna Kerkchoff, was born in Prussia, Germany around 1818.

He, his wife Louise (age 24), and their son Peter (1) arrived in the United States in 1845 landing in New Orleans, Louisiana.  In his lifetime he was married to three different Louisa’s who bore him a total of 23 children. 

During the Mexican War, Casper worked in a munitions factory in St. Louis where an accident resulted in the loss of his right arm.

Casper bought 1,200 acres for dairy cattle farming in Jefferson County, near Joachim Township. Three years later he sold the property and purchased 485 acres of prime land in the county, near the town of Pevely. It was here that he established a homestead, raised his children and maintained a dairy farm.

According to Pevely Dairy Company tradition, the Kerckhoff family held the “first herd of registered Jersey cows west of the Mississippi.”

Casper Kerckhoff’s son, Martin, established a butter route from the Pevely farm to St. Louis in the eariy 1880s; by the late 1880s, between 300 and 600 pounds of butter on average were shipped by rail from the family’s Jefferson County operation to the city. A large spring in Pevely, where the Frisco Railroad crossed over Highway Z, kept the milk cold for transport to St. Louis.

STL250_KerckhoffSt. Louis presented a large, emerging market for the Pevely farm milk. Martin recognized the commercial potential of the city and decided in 1887 to open an urban dairy (no longer existent) on South Seventh Street.

The dairy was thus named Pevely Dairy and officially incorporated.

Martin and his son Daniel were operating several milk routes out of Pevely Dairy, but in 1904 things began to change. They were asked to provide milk for the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Casper didn’t live to see the day his early dairy farm would affect his son’s life as he passed on February 15, 1899. He’s buried at the Sandy Creek Church Cemetery in Hillsboro.

29f99a7876cebe5cf4f01380e8a105e6After the World’s Fair, Pevely Dairy outgrew its location on South Seventh Street and moved to a larger plant on Park Avenue. By 1915 the business continued to grow and a new plant was built on Grand Blvd. and Chouteau Avenue. Martin passed away in July 29th, 1915.  He’s also buried at the Sandy Creek Church Cemetery in Hillsboro.

Pevely Dairy continued to grow into one of the most successful companies in St. Louis. It was sold to Prairie Farms Dairy in 1989. In October 2008 Prairie Farms closed the factory. In March 2009 a fire destroyed the ice cream factory built on site. That same year, the complex was nominated and accepted to the National Register of Historic Places.

In August 2011 Saint Louis University purchased the site from Prairie Farms. Even though it was listed on the NRHP, St. Louis University requested permission to demolish the entire site in December 2011.  At first they were denied, but in February 2012 the city’s Planning Commission overturned the denial and demolition began in April of 2012.

History once again repeated itself, as Martin Kerckhoff’s great grandson Arthur died on May 11, 2011 just prior to the end of an era that will forever be connected to the City of Pevely.



Census records and other historical documentation:

1850 Census – District 42, Jefferson County, MO
Casper H Kerkhof [Casper H Kerckhoff]

Age:       34
Birth Year:           abt 1816
Birthplace:          Germany
Home in 1850:   District 42, Jefferson, Missouri
Race:     White
Gender:               Male
Family Number:                636

Household Members (name and age): 
Casper H Kerkhof             34
Louisa Kerkhof  28
Mary Kerkhof    66
William Kerkhof                36
Ann Kerkhof      20
Christian Hesse 25
Charles Stewer 30

1870 Census – Joachim, Jefferson County, MO

Name:  Martin Kerckhoff
Age in 1870:        17
Birth Year:           abt 1853
Birthplace:          Missouri
Home in 1870:   Joachim, Jefferson, Missouri
Race:     White
Gender:               Male
Post Office:        Hillsboro

Household Members (name & age):     
C H Kerckhoff    52
Louise Kerckhoff              31
John Kerckhoff 18
Martin Kerckhoff             17
Jacob Kerckhoff                6
Eliza Kerckhoff  11/12
Peter Steinland 17
Lewis Krachoe   28
Lewis Dean         28
Wm Kerckhoff   55


1880 Joachim, Jefferson County, MO Census
Name:  Martin Kirckhoff
Age:       28
Birth Year:           abt 1852
Birthplace:          Missouri
Home in 1880:   Joachim, Jefferson, Missouri
Race:     White
Gender:               Male
Relation to Head of House:          Self (Head)
Marital Status:   Married
Spouse’s Name:               Henrietta Kirckhoff
Father’s Birthplace:         Prussia
Mother’s Birthplace:       Prussia
Occupation:        Dairyman

Household Members (name & age):     
Martin Kirckhoff               28
Henrietta Kirckhoff         22
Daniel Kirckhoff                2
Walter Kirckhoff               6m
Julious Cattleman            18
By the 1900 Census they were living in St. Louis in Ward 7
By 1910 Census they were living in St Louis in Ward 14

Passenger List:
Name:  Martin W Kerckhoff
Arrival Date:       19 Feb 1914
Port of Arrival:   New Orleans, Louisiana
Birth Date:          abt 1853
Birth Place:         Missouri, Pevely
Age:       61
Gender:               Male
Port of Departure:           Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Ship Name:         Cartago

“History of the City of Pevely” by JoAnne McDaniel (Page 6)

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