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WATKINS MEAT MARKET

"John Henry Watkins, my grandfather, opened a meat market in Tescott [Kansas] approximately 1900, and a few years later William W. Watkins, my father, joined with his father. In those days a meat market was just that -- it sold only meat. Most grocery stores carried no meats until about the 1920's

The meat market consisted of a meat block, hand saw, usually a small counter. Nothing was cut ahead then as there were no display cases as we know of them now. A good butcher could just about cut the exact weight amount the customer wanted with just one cut.

One or two large ice boxes were where the meat was kept, and when someone wanted a certain cut of meat, you brought a quarter of beef or pork from the cooler to the block and cut what they wanted. Back then they didn't have so many confusing cuts which, I think, was better for the customers.

By the way, the temperature in the ice box was about 44ºF. This was considered very good. That temperature was as low as you could get with ice. Ice was put in the top of the cooler. Heat rises, and with the ice at the top, this prevented heat at the top, and the cooler stayed cold longer.

Back then, in 1912, and up until the Government stopped the killing of beef out in the open pasture, you can see by the pictures how the processing was done. This was done in the late evening so there would be less flies, then it was brought in and hung outside on the porch to cool out overnight. It then would be brought into the coolers. You could not put it in the ice cooler immediately as that would drive the animal heat into the bone which would sour and spoil the meat. The beef was cut into four pieces -- two hind and two front quarters -- each weighing about 100# to 150#.

Will Watkins and Charlie Hudson butchering a beef
Will Watkins and his brother-in-law, Charlie Hudson, butchering a beef on a farm
near Tescott, Kansas in the early 1900's. The animal was stuck in the neck
to bleed out the warm blood as soon as possible.

Will and Charlie using bracing sticks
Will and Charlie used 'bracing' sticks in the ground to hold the animal on
its back to cut skin loose from the body.

Will and Charlie using a tripod
Will and Charlie fixed a tripod, and with a pulley, the horses pulled the beef up, and
it was fastened in an upright position so it could be skinned. It was split down the
center and the inside cleaned out.

My father had a dog, Tommy, who would guard the hanging meat, and he would not let anything or anybody get near it. He never touched it himself. One time my father butchered a beef for Ray Entsler and hung it outside. The dog was to guard it. The next morning when Ray went out to get it, the dog wouldn't let him near it; so he had to get my father.

My father would contract to buy catle from the local farmers and paid them twenty-eight cents a pound dressed. He would pick out ten or twelve good-looking cattle and then butcher them one or two at a time whatever he needed for that week. He also sold meat to the stores in Beverly and Culver.


Dad and his father had a meat market in Tescott [Kansas], and it was strictly for selling of meat -- no groceries.

There were double doors on the market , and in the big flood of 1903, a man rowed through the doors and right up to the butcher's meat block and a cooler with ice in it where the meat was hung. Dad built his own locker and tried to keep it at 44ºF which was a good chill for meat. When a customer wanted a roast or steak, he would walk into the cooler, bring it out to the meat block and cut off a piece.

The beef was not shipped in from Kansas City. Dad did his own butchering. He went out to the pasture, rounded up a beef, shot it, skinned and dressed it right out on the prairie. He sliced it in half and then quarters and brought it to town, hung it on the back porch to cool out because if it was put in the cooler right away, it would drive the animal heat into the bone.

Hogs were dressed out the same way. They were put on a sled and dipped in a barrell stuck in the ground at an angle and filled with hot water. He would do four or five hogs at one time."

Source: Con Rod Robbins and Minnie Frances Srack -- Their Family

Henry White Watkins (1905 - 1995)


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