Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
On Aug. 3, 1916, the Bulloch Times-Statesboro News-Statesboro Eagle reported “Work has actually been commenced on the construction of the Bulloch Packing Company's plant.”
“A sawmill has been located on the premises and will begin today the cutting of lumber for the erection of the temporary shelters. A dam will be constructed across the small stream nearby to provide water.”
Continuing, “The contractors state that preference will be given to home labor where practicable (and) the contract calls for the completion of the job by the 25th of December.”
The Bulloch Times and Statesboro News issue of Sept. 13, 1917 announced “Packing Plant to Begin Work October 15.” The paper revealed the “Superintendent Will Take Charge Next Monday.”
More specifically, “On the 15th of October the slaughtering of hogs will be commenced in earnest. Actual work of preparing for that event will begin...when Mr. Buhrmaster will arrive and take charge.”
As to Buhrmaster, “He was superintendent of a plant in East St. Louis, Ill. for 11 years. He has been engaged in the packing business for the past 21 years, and understands every detail of it.”
The Bulloch Packing Company (BPC) meat-packing plant, or the “Packinghouse,” was established in Statesboro in 1917 with an investment of $150,000. Brooks Simmons was president.
He lost the business after a fire destroyed the upstairs boiler-room. In 1918, Texas cattleman E.J. Jersey announced that he was interested in buying the Bulloch Packing Company.
He actually shipped cattle to the plant to be slaughtered. Nothing happened, apparently, for in 1919 more financial problems had resurfaced. A proposal to rescue the company was made by investors in 1920.
The Bulloch Times and Statesboro News of Aug. 19, 1920 revealed the “Packing Plant in New Hands. Southern States Packing Company Assumes Control and Begins Improvements.”
Continuing, it “has formally taken over the packing plant of the Bulloch Packing Co. at Statesboro and after having the plant thoroughly overhauled will be ready for killing of hogs and cattle by October 1st.”
And, “The new company plans extensive improvements, including a sweet potato curing house, grain elevator storage, warehouses, and public stockyard.”
The paper listed the officers: C.H. Knight, of Louisville, Ky. is president; B.F. Williamson of Gainesville. Fla., is vice president; N.C. Murray is secretary; and Marvin May is assistant treasurer.
It finished by declaring, “The master mechanic, Mr. Workman, is now overhauling the machinery. R.M. Williams, who has been a resident of Statesboro for the past few months will be general manager.”
Then, the Times of Thursday, Sept. 2, 1920, declared “Packing Plant Being Made Ready.” It announced, “the Southern States Packing Company...is now ready to issue stock....to the old stockholders.”
The entire block of outstanding stock was to be bought at 50% of its original value, and the $80,000 in outstanding debt paid. The planned “Statesboro Packing Plant” would arise out of the BPC’s ashes.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.