Established in 1923, Mayfield Dairy Farms has evolved into one of the major southern milk and ice cream products companies. It began as an antebellum family farm in McMinn County that continued as a family-run business into the late twentieth century. In 1833 Thomas Brummitt Mayfield and Sarah Rudd Mayfield established a farm on 510 acres east of Athens on the Madisonville Road. In 1923 Thomas Brient Mayfield Jr. took the family’s forty-five-cow dairy operation and bought an existing ice cream factory in Athens, creating the Mayfield Creamery.
The creamery proved successful and remained in business during the Great Depression. In the postwar boom of the late 1940s, the Mayfields decided to upgrade and expand their operations, building a new modern milk and ice cream plant in Athens between 1948 and 1950. Over the next two decades, the Mayfields continued to modernize and improve operations; during the 1950s, for instance, the dairy was the first in Tennessee to ship its milk in mechanically refrigerated trucks. In 1976 Mayfield Farm was designated an official Tennessee Century Farm; the following year Mayfield expanded its ice cream sales into the Atlanta market.
In the mid-1980s Goldie D. Mayfield and her children operated a 1,400-acre farm, while the company expanded sales of the Mayfield Dairy brand name across the state. Dean Foods of Franklin Park, Illinois, acquired Mayfield in 1990, but kept everyday affairs in the capable hands of the Mayfield family. The company built its second plant, for milk production, at Braselton, Georgia, in 1997. Currently Scottie Mayfield is president of Mayfield Dairy Farms, and Rob Mayfield is vice-president, production and technical service manager. Milk from 325 farms across the South supply milk to Mayfield Dairy Farms. Its Athens plant employs 575 workers.