Meat packers adapt as new processing procedures evolve
Glenn (Woody) Ewing, left, and Max Sonis, right, pose behind the meat counter of the Sonis Meat Market, 623 Broadway, Hannibal, circa 1941. Ewing’s daughter, Carolyn Ewing Musuraca, remembers, “My Dad got pneumonia. I was 6 years old. It was near Christmas. (The Sonis) delivery truck parked in front of our house and my Mom opened the door. The driver started bringing in several boxes of food, and gifts for me and my 3-year-old sister, my Mom and Dad. A kindness never forgotten.” Photo included in Steve Chou’s book, “Hannibal Missouri Bluff City Memories,” by Arcadia.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
By the beginning of the 20th century, the concept of transporting live cattle to the Chicago markets for processing had been - for the most part - replaced by the opening of regional packing plants. Cattle could be processed nearer to the farms where they were raised, and the marketable portions could be transported in ice-packed (later refrigerated) rail cars. This process provided a savings to the meat producers, and eliminated the necessity of stockyards along the rail route, such as the one in Oakwood.
Two area men with a vision joined together to utilize a profit from this growing trend. In 1917, James I. Leach and John Guinan built a packing plant at Maywood, in Marion County, where they hoped to create a regional meat distribution center.
Among the employees after the plant’s completion was Kirksville native David Anderson Ewing (1880-1954), who would gain the reputation as among the best meat packers around.
In mid June, 1918, Dave Ewing, 38, his wife Cora, and their children, including Nova, Laramie, Dixie, Elton David, John, Jeanetta, Farmil, and the baby, Glenn Woodrow, left Adair County, and relocated to Marion County.
Once in Marion County, the nearby town of Hannibal was a draw for Dave Ewing, who soon turned his attention from commercial meat packing at Maywood to retail opportunities in the post-world war era in Hannibal. Here, he used his expertise in the industry to earn a living in order to support his large, and growing, family.
In addition to the meat packing plant at Maywood, the aforementioned James I. Leach of Maywood and John Guinan of Quincy, Ill., owned and operated a chain of grocery stores in Quincy, Hannibal and along the route of the Quincy, Omaha and Kansas City railroad.
Their grocery concern grew to become one of the largest in the region, operating in Ewing, Maywood, Kirksville, Hurdland, Quincy and Hannibal.
The year 1920 found Dave Ewing at work at the Hannibal Packing Company, 410 N. Main, which was owned by Leach and Guinan. By 1923, Leach and Guinan had expanded to three meat markets in Hannibal, at 410-12 N. Main, 1306 Market and 419 Mark Twain Avenue (managed by Dave Ewing.)
John Guinan died in 1923, and in 1924, James Leach, on behalf the Hannibal Packing Company, filed for bankruptcy.
On his own
Dave Ewing set out on his own, in 1925 operating a meat market in conjunction with his son, Laramie. The building, on the northwest corner of Lindell Avenue and Gordon, was numbered 2300 Market. (The building will be remembered as the long-time home to Bluff City Dairy.)
By the end of the decade, Dave Ewing was operating a retail meat market at 310 N. Main; and his son, Laramie, operated a shop at 1927 Market.
Glenn W. Ewing, among the younger of Dave Ewing’s children, (known by his family as Woody) came of age in Hannibal, and followed his father’s footsteps into the meat industry. The shops where he worked read somewhat like a “Who’s Who” of Hannibal butcher shops:
1937, meat cutter for George E. Schultz, 1001 Fulton Avenue.
1939, clerk for Max Sonis, Sonis Meat Market, 623 Broadway.
1946, meat cutter for Frozen Food Locker Service, Rodney B. Rosser, 109 Broadway.
1950-53, meat cutter for Denkler’s Grocery, 515 Mark Twain Avenue.
1959, meat cutter for Rosser’s Food Co., 109 E. Broadway.
Carolyn Ewing Misuraca (Woody Ewing’s daughter) has vivid memories of her grandfather, Dave Ewing. “When I was about 12 years old (circa 1947) I remember going to Rosser’s Meat Locker, located next to Nipper Park, where my dad worked after World War II, seeing him and my Dad after they finished on the killing floor for the day. When my grandfather took off his rubber boots the varicose veins were so bad. He was such a hard working man. He taught my Dad everything he knew about the meat business, from start to finish. I’ve been told by many outside the family that no one was better at it.”
Meat markets: 1925
From the Hannibal City Directory
Buehler Bros, 214 N. Main
Fred H. Davis, 502 Lindell
Dave Ewing and Son, 2300 Market
John W. Glascock, 1924 Market
Chas. S. Gruber, 323 N. Main
Perry T. Hays, 3408 Market, Oakwood
Henderson Grocery Co., 625 Union
Hoenes Meat Market, 1900 Market
Wm. F. Koch, 712 Broadway
Lincoln Meat Market, 1223-27 Market
F.J. McMahon, 727 Broadway
McOwan Bros, 700 Union
Manzke and Co., 410 N. Main
James R. Marvin, 420 Mark Twain
Arlie C. Morawitz, 623 Broadway
Forest Oaks, 309 N. Main
George Painter, 1207 Ledford
Joseph C. Raible, 1240-1242 Market
Sargent’s Grocery and Market, 715 Main
Schanbacher Bros. 1233 Market
Andrew F. Scherz, 1302 Market
Schnitzer’s City Market, 717 Broadway
Self Service Co., 225 Broadway
Bruce S. Wright, 601 S. Main
James I Leach died in July 1934.
David Anderson Ewing died in August 1954, at the age of 74, at the home of his son, David, in Los Angeles. Dave’s wife, Cora, died in 1931. They are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hannibal.
Glenn Woodrow (Woody) Ewing died March 10, 1997, in St. Charles, Mo. His wife, Della Hawkins Ewing, died in 1995. They are buried at Valhalla Cemetery, St. Louis County, Mo.
Two buildings of significant note have recently been razed at the intersection of Lindell Avenue (Route O) and Market Street. At left, 2300 Market, with the mural of Bluff City Dairy on the side, was the location for Ewing and Son meat market circa 1925. Across the street the former Kempker Auto Trim and Upholstery Shop is visible. This business was operated by Gilbert L. Kemper, who died in 2013 at the age of 74. Photo taken in 2017 by Mary Lou Montgomery.
Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on Amazon.com by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” and “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” consisting of 47 stories regarding the people who lived and worked on the Market Street Wedge, on west to Lindell Avenue. Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.email@example.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com