In 1792 Elder John Leland, a Baptist preacher, had moved to Cheshire after spending over a decade living and preaching in Virginia. While there he became very involved with a crusade to guarantee religious freedom and the separation of religion from government. Leland knew and became friends with several major political figures living near his Orange County home, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Those men were intimately involved in the formation of our country and the documents defining our nation.
When Jefferson was elected president in 1801, Leland wanted to mark the occasion in a spectacular way, considering Cheshire had voted unanimously for Jefferson. An idea was devised for a spectacular gift that would allow everyone in town to participate in its creation - the making of a giant cheese.
On the appointed day in July (1801), town's folk brought their production of curds to Capt. Daniel Brown's cider mill where they were pressed into an enormous cheese weighing over half a ton. When the huge cheese had cured it was taken to Washington, DC by Elder John Leland and Darius Brown. Brown was the son of Cheshire's most prominent citizen, Captain Daniel Brown.
On New Year's Day of 1802, the Mammoth Cheese, weighing 1235 pounds, was presented to President Jefferson in a formal ceremony at the president's mansion (now called the Whitehouse). Speeches were given by Leland and Jefferson and members of Jefferson's cabinet where on hand to witness the event.