My husband Dobb loved this land. More than anything he loved this Harmony Valley. His family first came to the valley in the early 1900s when they purchased the dairy land from an estate sale. The estate included a couple of home dwellings, outhouses, the large creamery building among other smaller dwellings. It was his family among others that helped preserve this land as dairy farms when the settlement here could have died out.
The original Swiss dairymen first settled in the Harmony Valley in the 1860s. While Dobb’s family was one of the most successful dairy farmers here, they were not the only family of Swiss immigrants to settle this land. Operations changed a lot in those early days. The story goes that as things reached a breaking point between some rival farmers, someone lost their life because men could not see eye to eye.
In 1907, the local dairymen agreed to call off all feuding and agreed the town would be named Harmony as a commitment to forging forward in cooperation and coexistence. The Harmony Valley Creamery Association was formed in 1913 with 20 men including four men who purchased memberships for their wives. Through the years, the business continued to grow with added memberships and employees of the Association. By 1936, the Association reached nearly 500 members. Through the Harmony Valley Creamery Association, the local dairymen were able to earn a reputation for some of the highest quality cheese and butter in the state.
During its peak years, Harmony Valley Creamery Association contained a manager’s residence, a bunkhouse, a garage, a blacksmith’s shop, a service station, a cook house, a school, a cold storage area for cheese, a warehouse, and the main creamery building. The post office has operated continuously since 1915 in town.
Originally, Highway 1 ran right through town and many tourists would stop by the Creamery on their way up and down the coast. Frequent customers included William Randolph Hearst and his frequent Hollywood friends who made their way north to his famous castle.
The Creamery closed in 1955 and by the late sixties most of what had been on the dairy business in the Harmony Valley was in the past. By then, Harmony was fading away. Highway 1 moved at a faster pace on its new route up the coast and our town became barely noticeable.
Vagrancy began to creep into Harmony. So Dobb began to allow a more youthful “counter-culture” into town. He wanted new life to spring from the town and valley he loved so much. Artists and craftsmen began to take up residency and the historic buildings in town had new reasons to stand. Dobb, God bless him, would say the one thing we have in common with the youth of this new era is we share a common love for the rural ways of life. Life away from the pressures of the modern world and all the technology it holds.
By the turn of this new century, Harmony’s new life began to fade yet again as some moved on and more of our long honored residents died. When Dobb died some eight years ago, everything changed. His death came without an heir. The long history of the Swiss dairy farms that settled in this land will die with me. It will be a sad end to what has long held people to this land. What will become of our town is anyone’s guess.