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Turkey raising was once Big Business in Adair

By Mike Watson

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and for many it will be 'turkey day' once more. Some enjoy the big bird when the notion strikes, others only on the traditional holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Few turkeys are raised in Adair County today, but there was a time when it was big business. Many farm wives made extra money in the fall and winter by selling their prize birds, as the following bits from the Adair County News, 1910-1924, illustrate. So, enjoy your feast!

Thanksgiving menu at Hancock Hotel: Roast beef, grape jelly, apple sauce, cream potatoes, turkey, cranberries, celery, chipped potatoes, scalloped oysters, chicken and nut salad, corn bread, biscuits, light bread, butter, tea, coffee, milk, black cake, marble cake, tuti-fruiti cake, custard. 30 November 1910.

Turkey Hunt: It was learned that there was a large number of wild turkeys near here and so last Thursday some fifteen or twenty men banded together and armed themselves with guns of all calibres and made for the woods. They walked in all some miles over hills and hollows and actually saw some thirty-five or forty turkeys. F.E. Webb and Miller Stotts succeeded in getting one shot each at the game, but no turkey was killed or even wounded. Dirigo letter, 6 December 1911.

Baptist Bazaar: The Ladies of the Baptist Church have been hard at work for several months getting ready for the Bazaar which will be open to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Before you get your grocery bill filled for Thanksgiving dinner, visit our grocery counter on which you will find dressed turkeys, fresh butter and eggs, cakes and pies. 26 November 1913.

Purloined: Someone stole a fine turkey from the home of Mr. Sam Lewis last Saturday night. Sam says it was fat and in his opinion the one who had it cooked, enjoyed it. 25 February 1914.

Driving Turkeys: L.E. McKinley, of Dunnville, remained overnight at this place last week. He had 675 turkeys. They roosted along the road on fences. Purdy letter, 30 December 1914.

Big Sales: Mr. R.H. Cofer, who is 73 years old, and who lives near Cane Valley, raised 27 turkeys from 2 hens. They weighed 440 pounds and brought $52.80. Who can beat this in the turkey line? 6 January 1915.

Mrs. Cragg Wilcoxin sold $72 worth of turkeys just before Christmas; Mrs. Allen Squires sold $55 worth; Mrs. Bramlett Squires sold $29 worth; and Mrs. Homer Squires sold $47 worth. Rugby letter, 13 January 1915.

Three Bronze Turkey Toms, gold band strain, for sale, weight 23 pounds each. $10.00 Mrs. Josh Butler, page one advertisement. 22 December 1920.

The following parties go good money for they turkeys: Mrs. Mattie Cundiff, $175; Mrs. Jennie Murrell, $73; Mrs. Mont Todd, $108; Miss Hanna Hood, $50; and Mrs. Annie L. Hood, $23. [That would have been total paid for whole turkeys sold during the previous Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas season.] North Columbia letter, 20 December 1921.

Last week was turkey week in this section with our process men. Mr. James H. Burris informs us that he bought in this community six hundred dollars worth. Mr. Tom Shirley one hundred and fifty dollars. Messers Coomer & Coomer four hundred dollars, making something over one thousand dollars paid in this section for the birds in one week. There are several more to be sold later. Gradyville letter, 20 December 1921.

Mr. Meldrum Scholl was in our midst one day last week buying turkey hens. Montpelier letter, 7 February 1922.

For sale, full stock Mammoth Bronze turkey. Mrs. Ed Hood. 21 November 1922.

James H. Burris, the well-known produce man, was here last Monday receiving turkeys. He paid 17 cents per pound and received two thousand pounds. As we get it somebody is going to eat turkey. Gradyville letter, 11 December 1923.

Turkeys for sale--Purebred Mammoth Bronze. Mrs. Golan Butler. 11 December 1923.

S.H. Grinstead & Company, this place [Columbia], commenced buying fat turkeys last Tuesday morning, and up to Thursday afternoon they had bought and shipped two thousand head. During the same days they bought and shipped 700 head of ducks and geese. 18 November 1924.

Full stock Mammoth Copper Bronze turkeys, see Mrs. Ed Hancock, Milltown. 18 November 1924.

--Mike Watson, November 2020

This story was posted on 2020-11-22 07:52:04
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