Rosenberg LibraryRoenberg Library
2310 Sealy Street, Galveston, TX 77550-2220
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Galveston History Vignettes Historic Galveston Dairy Industry
Star and Gallagher Dairies


Star Dairy milk bottle
Galveston Star Dairy milk bottle
Rosenberg Library Museum collection
Older Galvestonians will recall a simpler time when the milkman made his early morning rounds, delivering whole milk in glass bottles to the doors of residences. Dairies decades ago advertised wholesome products and cleanliness. In order to operate, they required a supply of milk (provided by dairy cattle on Galveston Island and the Mainland of Galveston County), and the means to sterilize, bottle, and deliver milk by trucks.

Star Dairy Galveston Daily News advertisement May 5, 1927
Star Dairy Galveston Daily News advertisement May 5, 1927
An association was organized in August 1906 to promote the interests of Galveston County dairy farmers and dairymen, as well as to coordinate with health inspectors. Local dairies took great pride in rigid adherence to cleanliness standards established by the City of Galveston. During the early twentieth century, dairies were subject to the City of Galveston’s Milk Ordinance, which required each dairy to secure a permit from the city Health Officer. Section 5 provided for the inspection of dairy farms and dairy establishments, including the testing of samples of milk for the presence of bacteria. Section 7 provided for the testing of dairy cattle for tuberculosis.

In the context of these sanitary measures, Galveston Star Dairy opened at 2212 Strand in 1927. It superseded the Galveston Milk Company, which had operated for several years previously at that address. Star’s first proprietor, James E. Carlson, was a Swedish immigrant who came to Houston in 1892 and moved to Galveston eleven years later. He remained with the firm until his death in December 1943. His wife, Frieda Carlson, was from the Schaper family, which was also involved in dairying on Galveston Island. Galveston Star Dairy perpetuated the name of an older firm. Star Dairy had operated at 4702 Avenue S from 1901 until 1917. Walter J. Jones, an immigrant from England, was its proprietor.

Galveston Dairies Daily News advertisement Nov. 1, 1927
Galveston Dairies Daily News advertisement Nov. 1, 1927
Galveston Star Dairy was a wholesale and retail establishment, producing pasteurized milk and milk products, such a butter, buttermilk, and ice cream, and distributing them to local grocery stores and residences. In keeping with the prevailing view of the healthfulness of whole milk, the firm advertised that “Star Milk makes Better Babies.” In fact, milk was believed to benefit persons of all ages: “Drink milk every day…at every meal…it saves doctor bills.” During World War II, Star Dairy advertised that mothers could do their part to help the war effort by purchasing milk to maintain their families’ health.

During its early years, Galveston Star Dairy utilized various avenues to advertise its products and seek customers. Along with other local businesses, the firm sponsored free cooking lessons held by the News-Tribune Free Cooking School in 1931. It also sponsored with other businesses an amateur advertisement writing contest. The dairy gave tours of its facilities to school students and medical students.

In January 1929, Star Dairy moved to a new building at 21st Street and Avenue H. The dairy operated on the first floor. The second floor featured six apartments. According to the 1943 - 44 Galveston city directory, Edward A. Stenzel of Houston was president of the company and James Carlson was vice-president. Stenzel was owner of the Houston - Galveston Breweries, Southern Select, and Triple XXX. He was the uncle of Ralph Stenzel, who is the current mayor of Santa Fe and himself an authority on breweries.

Galveston Star Dairy moved to 1816 45th Street in March 1949. In 1952, it operated eight delivery routes and served 3,200 local residences. It joined several other local dairies in 1953 in supporting an unsuccessful effort by the Galveston City Commission to deny a business permit to Carnation Company of Houston.

Star Dairy advertisement
City directory advertisement 1954
Star Dairy, together with Kobarg Dairy and Model Dairy, was one of Galveston’s leading dairies during the 1950s. Prompted by his impending retirement, Carl Kobarg merged his firm with Galveston Star Dairy in July 1958 and died a month later. In 1959, Star advertised whole milk with 4 percent butterfat, as well as chocolate milk, whipping cream, buttermilk, and cottage cheese.

Star was offered for lease in May 1962. Under different owners, in November 1964, Galveston Star Dairy was reportedly up for sale. Later that month, the Internal Revenue Service seized the property of Star Dairy for non-payment of federal taxes. The store’s furnishings were sold at public auction. An established name in Galveston business had come to a sad end.

The Rosenberg Library seeks photographs of Galveston Star Dairy’s buildings, operations, and delivery trucks, as well as historical materials on Galveston dairies.

Please contact Sean McConnell, Archivist, at


A painting in the Rosenberg Library Museum has an interesting story behind it. The noted Galveston artist Julius Stockfleth (1857 - 1935), a German immigrant, painted T.J. Gallagher’s Dairy in 1904. Thomas Joseph Gallagher (ca. 1861 - 1905), a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, came to Galveston about 1872. He worked as a drayman, as well as a piano mover for the local music firm Thos. Goggan & Bro. He conducted business from his residence at 105 15th Street, at the corner of Avenue A.
Gallagher's Dairy by Julius Stockfleth  1904

In 1891 and again in 1893, Gallagher served as an alderman from the Second Ward. The Board of Aldermen appointed him to a committee of several persons which received the body of Henry Rosenberg (1824 - 1893), the Rosenberg Library’s benefactor and namesake, at the Galveston train station before it was transported to Baltimore, Maryland, for burial.

Tom J. Gallagher ad
1903 - 1904 city directory adverstisement
In February 1893, Gallagher married Mary E. Williams at St. Mary’s Cathedral. He ran unsuccessfully for alderman once more in 1895. Gallagher helped organize the Galveston Cattleman’s Protective Association in 1904 and became its president. He evidently developed an interest in dairying towards the end of his life. An advertisement in the local city directory for 1903 - 04 highlighted his services as a drayman and dairy operator. His dairy, depicted by Julius Stockfleth, stood at 68th and beach, well outside the city.

The Rosenberg Library purchased the painting from a “junk shop” for $15 in 1960. In 1976, a professional restored the painting, which has a strong pastoral theme, with cattle and small trees. A carriage and a wagon add motion.

Gallagher died September 9, 1905, at the age of 44 years at his residence on Fifteenth Street. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

The Rosenberg Library, would like to acquire a portrait photograph of Thomas J. Gallagher, as well as printed matter and photographs concerning dairies and dairying on Galveston Island. Please contact Sean McConnell, Archivist, at