Filed Under Agriculture

Searles Creamery

In the Heart of Cuyahoga County's Onetime Dairy Belt

Royalton Township was founded in 1818. It was not much different than any of the other Western Reserve townships, as it was primarily a community based on general family farming. With the exception of a smith shop, a boarding house, and a sawmill, small farms predominated the community. However, Royalton's rolling green hills, coupled with the rise of the nearby city of Cleveland, led to the growth of North Royalton's most notable industry. In the years following the Civil War, North Royalton became the center of dairy farming in Cuyahoga County, providing milk, eggs, cheese, and other dairy products to an increasing number of hungry Cleveland consumers.

Central to this industry in Royalton was the Searles family creamery, cheese factory, and drugstore on State and Royalton roads. Originally built and owned by the Wyatt family, the creamery was maintained by the Searles family, and the store eventually outlived the creamery. Indeed, the number of farms in the area decreased in the mid 20th-century as Cleveland residents, once central to the growth of these farms, flocked out of the city and turned nearby, formerly rural communities into bustling residential suburbs.

At present, one can only imagine a North Royalton filled with dairy farms, with the Searles pasture across State Road as the most prominent example. This was the reality in late 19th-century North Royalton. You can still buy your milk and cheese at this site, albeit in a very different way: a supermarket is now located here.


Searles Homestead
Searles Homestead The dairy business was good, as the Searles family home built in 1870 illustrates. This Victorian home is not the average farmer's dwelling. The Searles family later used this home for their even more reliable and profitable business: a funeral home. Source: North Royalton Historical Society
Royalton Center, 1874
Royalton Center, 1874 This map of the center of Royalton Township in 1874 illustrates the most densely built portion of town centered around Royalton, Bennett, Ridge, and State roads. Note the prominent location and notation of the "Sarlis (sic) Cheese Factory and Store" at the right. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society
Royalton Business Directory, 1874
Royalton Business Directory, 1874 This short business directory for Royalton appeared in the 1874 Atlas of Cuyahoga County. Certainly, one can see the importance of dairy farming to the community at this time, with 2 of the 5 listings being dairies. The Searles Dairy is again misspelled, this time as "Sarles." Source: Western Reserve Historical Society Date: 1874
Searles Horse Team
Searles Horse Team Even though the Searles farm was adjacent to the creamery, one had to get the milk where it needed to go somehow. This team of horses did the job, and presumably they performed similar tasks for the family's later undertaking business as well. Source: North Royalton Historical Society
Former Searles Store, 1949
Former Searles Store, 1949 The Searles and Bangs families once operated a drugstore at State and Royalton Roads near the Searles creamery. The Searles family took sole ownership of the store in 1872 and sold it to Ed Cerny in 1910 to focus on their funeral home business. The store (at right) was under unknown ownership in this photo from 1949. The corner pictured here has been a place for food and sundry retail in Royalton for over 140 years and is now home to the Royalton Plaza Shopping Center. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1949
Dairy Supply Ad, 1874
Dairy Supply Ad, 1874 Most industries have "trade papers" -- publications intended for members of the industry. 19th-century dairy farming in Ohio was no exception. This ad appeared on the back cover of the 1874 Ohio Dairymens' Association Report and showcases the "all kinds of Dairymens' supplies" that the Searles family would have needed to run their business. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society Date: 1874


State Rd and Royalton Rd, North Royalton, OH | Demolished


Matthew Kish, “Searles Creamery,” Cleveland Historical, accessed April 12, 2024,