In 1894, Bill and Sell Marvin started the company. They were in the retail meat business. They operated their own slaughtering plant, sausage kitchen, and sold this through the retail store. Up until the Hendersons bought the firm, they operated from only one outlet. The Hendersons expanded the firm. Art Hufford then set up a number of retail outlets. Some of them were the Central Market, City Market, Piggly Wiggly, and the Sheridan Market, all in Sheridan. The Buffalo Grocery and Market was bought in Buffalo, and the Peoples Market in Gillette. It was during this time that the production facilities had to be expanded. New building and equipment was placed in the slaughtering and sausage manufacturing facilities. About this time, the Volunteer Food STores started up over northeastern Wyoming, and the Sheridan Meat Company became a principal supplier of the meat in these stores.
Art Hufford felt that the firm should have their meat inspected. He pioneered the development of meat inspection in the Sheridan area by making a deal with the City of Sheridan to employ a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine as teh meat inspector. The city then billed the Sheridan Meat Company for the cost of inspection. The first inspector in Sheridan was Dr. L. N. Davidson.
IN 1941, after Pearl Harbor bombing, a State of War existed in our nation. There was a great need to feed the Armed Services. Both Art and Jack Hufford thought this would be the time to apply for Federal Meat Inspection so they could do business with the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Sheridan, as the City Meat Inspection was a very big step and eventually, during the year 1942, the Sheridan Meat Company received authority to operate under the inspection No. U.S. 768 and U.S. 769. The first government inspector was Dr. Robert A. Moonan, who came from Austin, Minnesota. 65% of all the meat production was bought by the Quartermaster Market Center in Denver. This continued during World War II. When it was all over, Federal Meat Inspection authorities in Washington, D.C. notified the company that they would have to build a new plant. Many plans were submitted and considered. In 1958, the first large addition was built. This was the last addition until the Legerski Brothers had a major building program to enlarge the plant on Big Goose to its present size.
During the drought of the 1930’s, the government established a livestock buying plan and they sent them to the Sheridan Meat Company plant on Big Goose to be slaughtered. The plant operated 24 hours a day, and handled 6,000 head of livestock during one winter. A large granary was built and equipped with metal trackage so that after the animals were slaughtered, they could be put in the granary to cool under natural refrigeration. As soon as they were cooled, they were delivered to a cannery set up on West Brundage Street, where the meat was boned and canned for distribution to the needy in the area.
Two people in particular (important employees) are Rudolph Blum and Forest Salisbury. Rody and Frosty were pillars in the firm. Rudy was in charge of the livestock buying for over 40 years and did it by horseback and by car. He established a reputation for his knowledge and respect of the livestock production. Frosty was the office manager for over 40 years, and probably knew more people in Sheridan than anyone.
Another man who was responsible for much of the high grade sausage products was Joe Poll. Joe took a great deal of pride in the products he turned out. Charlie and Virgil Miller, a father and son team, controlled the slaughtering facilities for the firm. No packinghouse could be successful without dedicated people like the Millers.
I started with the company in 1932, while I was in high school, working in the summers. I retired January 1, 1982. I have been heavily involved in every development of the company.
George L. Legerski was with the firm until his death. He had developed a great following with the ranchers in the community, who constantly sought his advice on the marketing of their livestock. George’s sons, George, Roman and John, carried on the business. They have developed business in the southern Montana and the Big Horn Basin area of Wyoming. They operate a very modern plant with Federal Meat Inspection.
During the 90 years, many employees have worked for the firm. Some of these were; Guy Parrish, George Lucas, Butch Jurosek, Frank Heinz, Cy Calhoun, Richard Pilch, John Lopez, Johnny Swindle, Jim Willard, Ralph Walker, Joe Creeger, plus many more.
A new development in the firms has been the large number of women who are now employed. Some that come to mind are: Ruth Medina, Dorothy Simon, Jackie Hume, Darlene Hartman, Evelyn Dovey, Mark Anne Aksamit, Lesta Newman, and a great many other who have done outstanding work for the company. These have all been just great, dedicated people. No wonder the company has the slogan “The Pride of Western Hospitality.”
by Jack R. Hufford
Published the Sheridan County Heritage book - 1983