The Bulloch Meat-Packing Plant was established in Statesboro in 1917 with an investment of $150,000. Businessmen C.L Brooks and John W. Greer of Moultrie assisted locals Brooks Simmons, Glenn Bland, J.A. Brannen, W.G. Raines and A.J. Mooney, who served as its first president.
The January 4, 1939, edition of the Bulloch Herald reported that the first farmer-owned-and-operated "meat-curing" plant had just celebrated its seventh year of operation in Bulloch County. Built to serve the Ivanhoe and Stilson cattle and hog-raising farms in the county, it was constructed in early 1932 to combat the rising costs of commercial meat-curing plants. Shares cost $25 apiece.
At that time, hogs sold for less than 3 cents a pound at market, and curing plants charged almost 3 cents a pound to sugar cure slaughtered hogs, guaranteeing local meat producers a net loss.
To help farmers cure their meat and still make a profit, J.W. Davis and the Georgia Agricultural Extension Service worked to help open the Briar Patch Meat Curing Association, a locally owned and operated cooperative.
In 1938, Briar Patch sugar cured almost 37,000 pounds of hog meat at a cost of approximately 1 cent per pound. Not only did this ensure local producers a healthy profit, but it enabled Briar Patch to pay dividends from its inception.
In 1932, that amounted to $5.77 a share to cooperators, according to W.A. Groover, the leader of the Ivanhoe community; H.C. McElveen, the chairman of the Briar Patch board; and A.D. Sowell, the secretary and treasurer.
By 1941, Briar Patch was paying out stock dividends of $10 per share, even after setting aside money to expand its facilities and perform minor repairs on the existing plant. Accordingly, each of the company's 52 shareholders were paid between $6 and $13 per year in dividends. Major stockholders included W.O. Griner, P.F. Martin and Mrs. C.H. Cone.
McElveen, who served as business manager, stated that whereas the original facility could handle 30,000 pounds of meat, with the construction of a new 10-by-14-feet processing room, the plant could now handle upwards of 70,000 pounds of meat a year.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at email@example.com.