In 1903, according to historian Walter Williams, Missouri ranked first in the nation in poultry, producing poultry and poultry products valued at $14 million. Nearly every farm kept some chickens and often ducks, geese, and turkeys as well. Many town families had a small poultry yard and kept a few hens to provide eggs for the family.
In 1908, The Ladies’ Poultry Journal praised the Missouri woman, the Missouri hen and the Missouri Poultry Breeder’s Association for their contribution to the state’s position as a leading poultry producer. Pettis County was the second highest producer in the state, shipping more than $800,000 worth of poultry. This amount does not include fancy poultry, eggs saved for hatching, and eggs or poultry consumed at home. Pettis Countians owned 163,173 chickens, 5,774 turkeys, 3,281 geese, and 1,900 ducks, valued together at $142,610.
The 1903 Sedalia City Directory lists two egg producers operating in Sedalia — the Sedalia Egg Company at 105 E. Main St. and the New York Poultry and Egg Co. at 708-716 W. Main St. The 1904 City Directory lists the Friebe-Simater Co. at the northeast corner of West Main Street and Grand Avenue as the city’s only egg dealer and Swift and Co. at the corner of East Main Street and Mill Street as a poultry processor.
The poultry industry created a demand for products used in poultry production. Many of these items could be ordered from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue or purchased from the local feed and seed dealers such as or Archias Seed Store on East Main Street.
One of the products used in poultry production was manufactured in Sedalia. The Germo Co., according to the Sedalia Democrat, had recently opened offices and factory on the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Lamine Avenue. The Germo Company manufactured Cholerine. This concoction, originally developed by Dr. Donco in the mid-1880s, was a blend of “numerous vegetables and herbs” and was reputed to prevent or cure diseases in poultry and also to prevent lice and mite infestation. The Democrat claimed Cholerine “when used according to directions, makes the greatest poultry food and egg producer on the market.”
The product must have been at least somewhat effective. Many Sedalia poultry raisers could testify to its merits, noted the Democrat. In 1903, the Germo Co. employed 10 salesmen, and anticipated hiring others as demand for the product was high. The business was good for the city; Cholerine was sold throughout the country, “bringing money in from abroad and paying it out in Sedalia.”
The Germo Co. had a monopoly on the market, in that no other firm manufactured Cholerine. The company intended to expand its product line and handle other products it assured customers would be “articles of merit.”
Sedalians – president R. C. Combs and secretary/treasurer J. D. Donnohue — managed the company. Both were described by the Democrat as “careful businessmen” who would earn the public’s confidence. The Democrat predicted that the company would grow to be “one of the most important business enterprises of Sedalia.”
Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society.