Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Jean, Gracie, Phyllis and Karen.
Pueblo Chieftain 12-8-1993 – Ted Donley of Dairy Fame Dies at 90 – Donley's idea of taking special care of his animals included shipping a prize bull to Pueblo in the baggage car of a passenger train. Another favorite cow was Regal Sarah Barito, another production winner. In the 1930s, Ted Donley had a favorite cow named Sally. He named her for Sally Rand, the famous fan dancer. In 1933, Sally produced the first of many of Donley's milch cow state production records. "He had a knack for cows. He could get more out of them, because he took better care of them, fed them best," recalled his son, Ted Donley Jr. on Tuesday. Donley, longtime owner of Hyde Park Dairy, died Sunday at age 90. A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Christ Congregational Church. But the name Donley is forever a part of Pueblo dairy lore. Donley's idea of taking special care of his animals included shipping a prize bull to Pueblo in the baggage car of a passenger train. Another favorite cow was Regal Sarah Barito, another production winner. "I bought him from a man in Denver at an auction," Ted Jr. said. The owners hadn't been able to breed her so, "I just paid the beef price for her, for hamburger." But it turned out that Regal was indeed with calf and "produced a hundred pounds a day of milk for a long time after that." It was a long way from Ireland to Pueblo County for the family. Donley was the grandson of Thomas Arion O'Donnelly who came to New York from Ireland with his parents when he was a little boy. The parents promptly contracted scarlet fever and died, leaving Thomas to grow up in a Catholic orphanage where a priest shortened his name to Thomas Donley. After serving in the Spanish American War, he claimed his "bounty land" in Iowa and a bride, Mary Elizabeth Todd, a niece of President Lincoln's wife, Ted Jr. said. The couple had 11 children. And in the Colorado gold rush, four boys came to Leadville to dig for their fortune. They didn't find it, but the youngest, Todd, inadvertently began what would become the family heritage. The brothers owned a cow that gave more milk than they needed, so Todd began selling milk to the other miners. The brothers drifted away from Leadville: Joe to raise cattle at Nathrop, Todd to Burnt Mill Road, Charlie to Beulah and Edward to Pueblo. Edward went into the cattle business, but his sons became Pueblo's dairy farmers par excellence. Floyd founded Hillside Dairy in 1919 and Ted began Hyde Park Dairy five years later with a 12-head herd of Holsteins. "It was 1930 before I hired outside help," he told The Chieftain in 1975 after 50 years in the business. "The route was delivered seven days a week, too. I had about 30 head of milkers then." In those days cows were milked by hand, a practice that continued to 1972 when the herd had grown to 150 cows and took seven men to milk. In 1972 he opened a new, push-button dairy barn on 160 acres west of the former honor farm site near the Pueblo Dam and three years later was running 300 milkers with 100 heifers coming up. He always told his son, "I can take a good Holstein in a tent and make a living." And during the Great Depression they always "had plenty to eat. We sold butter, fed skim milk to the calves and hogs and chickens. And we'd go to the store and trade." In 1985, a year after his son, Jack, died, Donley retired. It got to the point that the major national dairies were driving local companies out of business. "It got to the point you couldn't get local milk into a grocery," said Ted Jr. who operated a wholesale dairy at Beulah until 1991. Still, the family left its mark on Pueblo. Donley Park in Hyde Park is named for them. And Ted Jr. still thinks there is truth in his father's adage: "If you take care of a cow, she'll take care of you."
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