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There are in Grand Rapids about 50,000 people who eat meat. At the moderate estimate of two cents each, $1,000 will feed them with meat for one day. Making no allowance for leap years, nor for extra meals on Sundays and holidays, this would amount to $365,000 per year. Possibly, with the accompaniments of butter, lard, oleomargerine, eggs, pepper and salt, this amount might be doubled. But even at this very economical estimate, it is evident that the meat market business in this city is a traffic sufficiently large to entitle it to notice. Yet Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce here seem to have made no discovery of that branch of business. To say that the average market cost of the food of the people does not exceed $1 each per week, might be hazardous in view of the fact that a late celebrated preacher and politician has been roundly censured for making the assertion that a laboring man could live healthfully upon $1 per day. Yet even upon that basis of $1 a wee, the cost of food exclusive of the labor of preparation for the table, for 50,000 people, amounts to the round sum of $2,600,000 a year. If there be any moral to this, that discovery and application are left to the reader.

During about ten years after the growth of Grand Rapids begun, the villagers had no common market. A farmer would kill a calf and bring it to town. Another would fetch a quarter of beef or a lamb or some butter and eggs. Others would bring potatoes or garden vegetables. From the farm wagons driven through the streets the residents would procure their table supplies of home products. There was no such regular and general custom as that of a daily visit to a meat market, for there were no such markets doing steady business.

In the early village days Amasa Wood for a time supplied cut meats for the table.

In 1842 Wm. R. Barnard opened a meat market in the pioneer building at the western angle of Prospect Hill, near the junction of Monroe and Pearl streets. This was the first market for the regular supply of cut meats of which there is any published record. Robert M. Barr and Consider Guild, in 1848, were operating a meat market at the same place. In November of the latter year it was purchased by Wm. Fulton and named the Fulton market. It was the principal market for three or four years. For  a short time about 1844 J. J. Baxter had a market, cutting meats from the block, in the rear basement of the Faneuil Hall building on Waterloo street, and in 1846, Almon Ward opened one on the east side of Canal street, a little north of Pearl. A year or two later there was a meat market in the lower part of the wood building which stood on Pearl, opposite the foot of Canal street. Charles Ellet was among those temporarily in the business about that time. After these James Bentham ran a market on the west side of Canal street, near the foot, and about the time of the incorporation of the city there were two or three other similar small establishments.

In 1852 Fulton & Church opened a market at the east corner of Monroe and Ionia streets. This was afterward carried on by Church & Judd, and did a lively business, eclipsing all of its predecessors put together for eight or ten years, or until the breaking out of the civil war in 1861. But besides this in 1859 were the markets of Giddings & Latimer, Killinger & Lamparter,  E. & D. Waters, and W. W. Westlake, on the east side of Canal street, between Lyon and Bridge; Thomas Martin, on Monroe street, near Divison, and J. C. Widoe and John Zinzer, near the corner of Front and Bridge streets, West Side. In 1865 J. S. Clinton had a market at 115 Monroe, and Henshaw & Huntly sold meats at 97 Monroe. Huntly was in the business near that locality a number of years, and also engaged in packing beef and pork. Soon after these in the business were John Mohrhard and J. G. Lehman, who after almost twenty years are in the same trade on Canal street.

Since 1870 the number of meat carving establishments has increased very greatly, there being no less than eighty of them in 1888. Those of John Mohrhard, and Van Every & Co., on Canal street, do a very lively trade.

In the meat trade are now two large establishments engaged in packing beef and pork. The Grand Rapids Packing and Provision Company is situated at 14-18 Ottawa street--President, H. N. Moore; Vice-President, John Caulfield; Secretary and Treasurer, Arthur Meigs; Manager, John Mohrhard. It was organized in 1882.

The W. Steele Packing and Provision Co. have their headquarters at 19-21 South Division street. The officers (1889) are: Pres., Wm. Steele; Sec., W. G. Sinclair; Treas., Alfred Broad. This company was organized in 1887. Its plant (grounds, packing and storage buildings) is south of the city, on the line of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. The buildings are large, chiefly of brick, and the ground comprises about fifteen acres.

In the packing business the companies above mentioned are using capital to the amount of about $75,000, and in 1887 turned out a product of $375,000.

Dealing in fish, oysters and other sea-foods are Emery & Co., 20 Lyon Street; J. Dettenthaler, 117 Monroe; Bliven & Allyn, 53 Pearl, and Mosely Bros., 26-32 Ottawa. This business has furnished a livelihood for a few establishments for some twenty years past or more.

Simon Sullivan was born at Bandon, county of Cork, Ireland, December 12, 1845. At eleven years of age he came, with his mother and younger brothers, to America, his father and older sister having preceded them three years, and landed in New York in 1856. Shortly afterward they settled in the little village of Florence, Oneida county, N. Y., where he learned the trade of boot and shoe maker. When the Rebellion broke out he sought three times to enlist in the Union Army, and was not accepted, having had both legs broken and being pronounced ineligible for a soldier's duty. Nevertheless, he determined to share somewhat in the fortunes of war, went South, remained with the army three years, and then returned home. After the death of his mother, which occurred in 1866, he decided to go West; went to Genesee county in 1868, staid one year, and then removed to Grandville, Kent County, Mich., where he remained upward of ten years. Then he married his present wife, the only daughter of George Hummer, one of the wealthy and substantial farmers of this county. Since 1869 he has been a resident of Kent County, and since coming to Grand Rapids his chief occupation has been that of dealer in boots and shoes, and more recently the meat market business on Plainfield avenue. In 1886 he was elected Supervisor of the Fifth Ward, and has been re-elected every year since, holding the responsible position of Chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Board for three successive years. He was also elected School Trustee for the same ward in 1885 and filled that office four years. Politically, he affiliates with the Democratic party.

This city has never owned nor conducted as proprietor a market place that was fairly respectable in its appointments and care. In the early days the farmer came with his produce and sold it wherever he could meet a customer on the streets. But as the town and business grew the necessity came for a change. At one time the Council set off a considerable portion of the upper ward on the east side of the river for the sellers of hay and wood-- a pretty large market place. Then nearly a quarter of a century ago that part of Fulton street between Division and Spring streets was designated a hay and wood market stand; and later for some years the gore at the parting of Waterloo street and Ellsworth avenue was made the wood and hay market. Since August, 1885, the market place rented by the city for the sale of hay and wood has been between Hastings and Trowbridge streets, west of Kent. All of these localities, except in dry weather, have been very nasty, miry sloughs, while thus used.

Document Source: Baxter, Albert, History of the City of Grand Rapids, New York and Grand Rapids: Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1891. (Name Index)
Location of Original: Various.
Transcribers: Ronnie August
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/60meats.html
Created: 2 August 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]