2016 Historical Master Breeder
In 1936, Joe and Corneilia Vanderham and their young son emigrated from Holland to southern California, settling near Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. In 1939 the family expanded when another son was born - the 2016 Historical Master Breeder - Pete Vanderham.
Upon his arrival in the U.S., Joe Vanderham got a job as a milker at a local dairy. In 1941 he started his own herd at a rented dairy and in 1946 built his own dairy in Norwalk, California. The first Brown Swiss were grades purchased by Joe in 1944 and 1945. Family members were part of the labor force, and at age 14, Pete was responsible for feeding, all by hand, alfalfa hay to the herd of approximately 300 cows. By age 18, Pete had become a milker and was milking half the herd, twice a day.
Pete’s showing career began at 13 when he showed Holsteins in 4-H and FFA at the local city fairs. Fate played an important role in Pete’s work with Brown Swiss when Pete’s father first told him in 1956 that cattle dealer Louie Spane had bought Pete a bull to show - a registered Brown Swiss. That bull was Pete’s first registered Swiss - Butte Meadows Pharaoh. Unfortunately neither Pete’s dad nor Louie realized there were no bull classes in 4-H.
The following year, 1957, Pete learned of a new dairy show in Los Angeles. Although he made entries for both the Junior and Open Shows for his 4-H Holsteins and Brown Swiss bull, show management told him he had to pick one or the other as he could not show in both the Junior and Open Shows. The decision the 18 year old made at that moment was “fate” when he chose to show one animal in the Open Show. And so in June of 1957 Pete took “Pharaoh” to the first ever Great Western Dairy Show in Los Angeles. His one Brown Swiss bull drew the attention of other breeders. A fellow exhibitor recognized the bull and came to check out the new kid. It was then Pete met Orville Kurtz from Fair Oaks, California, who was there with his herd of Brown Swiss. At the show, Pete helped Orville show in the group classes and before he left bought a cow from Orville - Rancho Rustic Lavanity - Pete’s first registered Brown Swiss female.
In the next several years, Pete spent time at the shows with Orville Kurtz and another Brown Swiss breeder, Pete Gerger, Gridley, California. Both traveled the California show circuit and they’d talk long into the night about Brown Swiss cows and cow families of the breed. The two men had a strong influence in teaching Pete to breed the “right kind of cow” and Orville became a lifelong mentor to Pete.
Note . . . Years later, after Orville had sold his herd, he served as the Southwestern Brown Swiss fieldman from 1975 through the 80’s and passed on his love of Swiss and passion for the breed to many Brown Swiss breeders. Mr. Gerger was originally a Guernsey breeder living in Washington. In 1939, he traveled to the National Show on Treasure Island where 2015’s Historical Breeder Orbec Sherry showed his Four Janes. Pete Gerger was so impressed by those Swiss that after moving to California as each of his four daughters joined 4-H, he bought them Brown Swiss for their projects and eventually converted to all Brown Swiss. (One has to wonder if Orbec realized the full impact of his 4 Janes in 1939.)
Pete Vanderham purchased Butte Meadows Juanita OCS as a 3 or 4 year old cow from Mr. Gerger. Born in 1958, she was bred by Orville out of a Rancho Rustic sire and dam. In 1964, Pete purchased Butte Meadows Jane as a heifer from Mr. Gerger. He paid a total of $410 for the two animals.
After being in the Swiss business a few years, Pete decided he needed a prefix. One day while standing in the barn, he looked to the west and saw the bridge over the San Gabriel River and looking to the east saw the bridge over the 605 freeway and so Bridge View was born.
In 1967, Pete at age 27 and his older brother, Corrie, formed a partnership and purchased their father’s herd of 290 cows. In 1975, the Norwalk property was sold and land was purchased near Mira Loma, where Pete currently lives. While the new facilities were being built, the herd spent about a year on a rented dairy near Chino and moved to the Mira Loma site in 1976.
The new acreage was split in half with each brother developing their own herd in mirror-like facilities. The partnership dissolved in 1978 and Pete Vanderham Dairy, Inc., was established. Pete’s 32 acres included corrals, a parlor, a calf facility and house. The herd eventually grew to around 1100 cows with about 10% registered Brown Swiss, the rest Holsteins, mostly grade. All feed was purchased.
In 1968, Pete visited Orville who had moved back to his home state of Wisconsin. After touring some herds there, Pete decided he had a two year old that could compete and win on the national level. She was Bridge View R. F. Joanne, a V B Royal Flush Pavanne from the aforementioned Butte Meadows Juanita OCS. Pete did not have the money to take Joanne himself, so she traveled to World Dairy Expo (still in its infancy) for the national show (only one in those days) with the Innisfail Milking Shorthorn herd. Orville Kurtz was on hand to show her for Pete. That evening after the show, Orville called Pete with a show report. After about an hour of talking about the show, Orville told Pete that Joanne had won the two year old class. 30 minutes after that Orville told Pete that Joanne was also named Grand Champion.
In September 1969, the LA County Fair hosted the Southwest Centennial Brown Swiss Show judged by Norman E. Magnussen. He made the two year old Bridge View Aristocrat Jolene Grand Champion and noted she had the best udder he’d seen since Jane of Vernon. Norm, another of our previous Historical honorees, urged Pete to take Jolene to the National Show - that year in Columbus, Ohio. After a couple days of thought, Pete called Columbus and they were willing to take a late entry.
He then went to a U-Haul lot where he’d seen a horse trailer. He rented it for two hours, took it to a local welding shop and asked the owner if he could gut the inside and then restore it to its original condition when Pete was done using it. The welder said he could. So Pete picked up the horse trailer the day before he was to leave for Columbus and took it to the welding shop. The next morning he left for Columbus with “Jolene” in the U-Haul hooked up to his 1967 two door Chevy with a vacuum pump and show equipment in the trunk. A piece of plywood went in the back seat to provide a bed for 3 year old son, Bill, for the long trip. (His older son, Jim, was in school and missed the epic trip.) Four days later they arrived in Columbus, the night before the show. Jolene went on to place first and win Grand Champion. Ed Drewitz, a Minnesota breeder and Western Fieldman at the time, told Pete he had accomplished a feat that had never been done before by showing two different 2 year olds in two consecutive national shows, single entries, both of whom were named Grand Champion at their National Shows.
Pete took Jolene home via Wisconsin so Orville could see her. They spent that night in Rolla, Missouri with the horse trailer parked next to a house trailer. The next morning as he was milking Jolene, a man came over from the house trailer and said, “I thought I was dreaming when I heard a cow bawling during the night.” He was a retired dairy farmer.
Jolene was a Norvic Lilason’s Aristocrat daughter.Jolene’s dam: Butte Meadows Jane. Pete’s $410 investment had given him two National Show Grand Champions in the very next generation.
In 1970, the National Show returned to Columbus as did Jolene where she was again Grand Champion, this time as a three year old. Three consecutive years - three consecutive Grands at the National Show.
Joanne was All American in 1968 and Jolene was All American in 1969 and 1970. And thus began a long history of National Shows, Grand Champions, and All Americans. During the next decade as the multiple National Shows came into play, Pete and his family exhibited annually at the Western National. In 1971, he was Premier Exhibitor at the Western National and was Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor at the Western National in 1972, 77, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85 and 86.
In 1972, Bridge View Jo Dee, a daughter of Jolene, was the Reserve Grand at the Western National and Reserve All American 2 Year Old. In 1977, Bridge View Modern Jewel was All American 2 Year Old. A daughter of Jo Dee, she was the third generation to receive All American honors as a 2 year old, another rare feat.
At the 1980 Centennial National, Pete traveled again to Madison. He was Premier Breeder of the show and had the winning Best Three Females. His son, Jim, had the Senior Champion of the Junior Show with Bridge View Dandy Sunlove.
At the 1981 Western National, a two year old was named Grand Champion. Following the show, Pete purchased the cow, Idyl Wild Improver Jinx., from a junior exhibitor. She was one of the few non-Bridge View bred cows that Pete showed at a National Show. In 1982, he took her to the Eastern National in Harrisburg and the Central National in Madison. She was named Grand at both shows. At the Western National she was Reserve Grand Champion to the aforementioned Bridge View Modern Jewel, Grand Champion of the show. Jinx was All American 3 Year Old that year. The following spring, Jinx sold in the Springtime Show Window Sale and became the highest selling Brown Swiss at $60,000. She was purchased by former Active Master Breeder honoree Darrell Worden of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Jewel repeated as Grand Champion at the 1983 Western National Show. Pete was Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor at the Western National in 1972, 77, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85 and 86. In 1986, Pete returned to Madison, won Premier Breeder and tied for Premier Exhibitor with Wayne Sliker, another Active Master Breeder honoree. In 87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97 and 98, Pete was Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor in Madison at the Central National. He was Premier Breeder in Madison in 1999, 2001, and tied, again with Wayne, for Premier Breeder in 2002.
Through the years, Pete accumulated over 200 All American Nominations, 58 All Americans and 44 Reserve All Americans. Frequently winning the Best Three Class, he had All American Best Three 15 times. He had nine cows named Grand Champion at a National Show, which include Bridge View Dandy Sunlove, (owned by son Jim), Bridge View Jades Mandy (owned by son Bill), Bridge View Jades Rosetta, Bridge View Stretchy Melissa, Bridge View Royale Di, Bridge View Jades Katrina, Bridge View Jubilees Dana, Bridge View Miss Patrice and Bridge View Miss Pam.
From such a strong breeding program evolved some high profile bulls. They include Bridge View Jubilation, Bridge View Combination, Bridge View Distinction, Bridge View Jubilant Sooner and Bridge View Jesta Jubilant. Most influential across the U.S. was Bridge View Elegant Jade, sire of numerous All American honorees and show winners and Premier Sire at multiple national shows. Jade was a White Cloud Jason’s Elegant son out of Bridge View Modern Jewel.
Pete had his first ET calves out of Bridge View Aristocrat Jolene in 1979. With two partners, he formed an ET business active on the west coast for several years.
The Bridge View herd was “not all type”; in 1985, Pete Vanderham Dairy topped the Group II division of the Ira Inman PTPR Award.
Pete attended his first National Convention in Colorado in 1970. A member of the California Brown Swiss Association, he served as its president for several years. Following Earl Meier’s death, Pete was appointed to complete Earl’s term as District IX National Director in 1984 and 1985. Pete was elected National Director in 1986 and served through 1989. In 1994, he was elected National President and served one term.
The Bridge View Brown Swiss herd was dispersed in 2009.