LIMA — After asserting that Lima would be included in a soon- to-be compiled “compendious” history of the world, a letter-writer, identified only as H.B.K., wandered into a rambling reminiscence about the town he first knew in March 1842.
In those halcyon days, H.B.K. assured readers of the Oct. 1, 1874, edition of the Allen County Democrat, the women “were all good and pure, and the men better than now-a-days.”
Lima, which had been in official existence for barely a decade in 1842, had two churches, one schoolhouse (“costing, probably, $400”), two hotels, and a United States Land Office, H.B.K. wrote. “There were three stores, all running stock known as ‘general merchandise’ … a few stoves, some tin and ‘hollow ware,’ some ‘stoga boots,’ and a few pair of pegged shoes for the good women …”
All the stores extended credit, H.B.K. continued. “In fact it was the general belief that there was no money in the country with which to pay for necessaries to supply even the very limited wants of the people.” Coon skins, H.B.K explained, were considered “legal tender for all they were worth.”
Warming to the task, H.B.K. continued: “But finally, a merchant from Xenia, J.W. King, appeared with a stock of goods well adapted to the wants of the country, and advertised his various lines, annexing prices and offering for cash, and for cash only. His price rates tempted the people. Hidden treasures came forth from old stockings and other secret places; but instead of passing into the money drawers of old merchants, in liquidation of long-standing and just claims, these old deposits passed over the counter of the King merchant of Lima.”
Joseph Warren King, who was born in Connecticut in 1814, arrived in Lima in the mid-1840s to establish the aptly named Old Cash Store in the southeast quadrant of the Public Square. “We can now offer the best selection of calicos, satinetts, broad cloths, tweeds, etc., ever offered in Lima,” King promised in a February 1848 ad in the Lima Argus. “Also, just received: a large lot of boots & shoes, upper & sole leather. Also, a full assortment of groceries, sugars, ‘molasses,’ iron and nails, etc., etc. either at wholesale or retail.”
In the mid-1850s, the King merchant’s Lima kingdom expanded when he entered into a partnership with Guilford Day in the operation of a grain elevator and slaughterhouse at 433 N. Main St. Day, born in Massachusetts in 1832, had arrived in Lima via Connecticut.
According to an 1885 history of Allen County, “Mr. King established himself here about 1845, and Mr. Day came from Connecticut and became a partner in 1855, since which time the firm has been King & Day. After Mr. Day’s arrival a warehouse was built, size 40 by 60 feet, and the firm handled grain, eggs and butter, only for a short time, when they went into the pork business slaughtering about 1,000 hogs each winter.”
In 1890 the Erie Railroad put out a book describing businesses in principal cities along the railroad’s route from New York to Chicago. Among the businesses was King & Day, which stretched along the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad (later the Pennsylvania Railroad). “Their business prospered from the start, and continued so up to Mr. King’s death, which occurred in 1885, when Mr. Day succeeded to the well-established business. The premises consist of a strip of ground on North Main Street, 100 by 118 feet in dimension, on which is erected the large three-story grain elevator, 40 by 60 feet, with a capacity of 15,000 bushels and facilities for handling 5,000 bushels per day. The meat market occupies a front addition to the elevator. Three hundred beeves and 1,000 hogs are slaughtered each year.”
King & Day’s increasing meat business led to a construction boom, detailed in the 1885 county history. The firm added three “pork houses” as well as a “double smoke house with a capacity of smoking 3,000 pieces at a time,” as well as a “second and larger slaughterhouse on the creek below the paper mill, which is supplied with every improvement and has a capacity of killing 500 hogs per days. They also run a retail meat market where they supply beef and other meats to the city trade. Outside of their grain and pork business they are manufacturing wooden stirrups, and in the shop a large force of hands find employment.”
Although he remained a partner with Day, by 1860 King had returned to Xenia where he operated a company which produced black powder during the Civil War. Day was left to tend to the daily operation of the company in Lima. He remained in the city becoming, the 1885 history noted, “an old and honored businessman” who “has repeatedly served in the city’s councils, school board and other offices.”
Day died in 1909. “Quite a number of years ago he retired from business in this city and later removed to Chicago where he remained until his death,” the Lima Daily News noted Nov. 10, 1909.
Meanwhile, a businessman from Philadelphia had taken over the property. “H.E. Shutt, who purchased the old King & Day property, has also purchased the John Longmeier meat market and is making many improvements. Mr. Longmeier will retire from the business,” the Lima Times-Democrat reported on March 30, 1896. “Mr. Shutt is a thorough business man and proposes to make his new property a desirable business location. Lima is glad to welcome such men to their midst. Next fall he intends to establish a packing house on a large scale and will conduct a general wholesale and retail business in all kinds of pork products, smoked meats and farm produce.”
Six months later, Shutt was advertising his wares “Do you eat sausage?,” an ad in the Oct. 9, 1996, Times-Democrat asked. “Why not try Shutt’s fresh Excelsior Sausage and Scrapple for sale by all grocers and meat markets. You will find it to be a delightful supper and breakfast diet. It will please you.”
On Feb. 10, 1999, The Lima News wrote that Shutt’s was “one of the many hustling, wide-awake, up-to-date houses in Lima, a fact that in part accounts for the unusually large business he does. The premises are supplied with all the most modern appliances, including large refrigerators with a capacity of over 325 tons of ice and being situated on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, the shipping facilities are exceptionally good …”
Despite all that, Shutt’s business went into receivership and was sold to Benjamin F. Thomas within the year. Shutt died in May 1901.
Next: Lima Pork Packing Co.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.