Editor’s Note – The Highland County Historical Society has focused on a series of articles in 2016 featuring the importance of agriculture to the local community. This is another story in the series, this one authored by Pricetown area resident Jim Faust on behalf of the historical society’s Agriculture Outreach Committee. The information included in this article was collected from historical documents and interviews with Bill and Janet Butler of Union Stockyards and Donnie Everetts and Scott Rittenhouse of United Producers.
Two of the most important agricultural businesses in Highland County are the Union Stockyards and the United Producers Stockyards. Hillsboro is one of very few rural cities in the United States that can boast two efficient and effective livestock marketing agencies. More than 100,000 animals pass through these two facilities each year.
Both of these agricultural businesses have been strong supporters of many youth activities throughout the year including the Highland County Fair. They have supported nearly every farm organization and community agricultural event over the years. Both are respected as quality agricultural businesses that have an important economic impact on the area. Livestock flows into Hillsboro from several states each week and the weekly auctions and special sales are a part of the local culture.
Union Stockyards has an interesting history. The original property owners prior to January 1931 were Samuel P. Scott and Elizabeth W. Scott. The land was then deeded upon Samuel Scott’s death to the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia and to his widow, Elizabeth Scott of Hillsboro. On Jan. 15, 1931 the land was sold to James M. Caldwell, Clinton Davis and Maxine Davis. It was then transferred to the Hillsboro Livestock Sales Company.
On July 31, 1944, Curtis Wilson was appointed as receiver of the Hillsboro Livestock Sales Company. It was appraised at $19,300 and sold on Sept. 8 with an open bidding in Highland County Common Pleas Court. The Court ordered Wilson to sell it at private sale for $25,000. Bartow Jones of Mason County, W.Va. received a one-half interest, Herbert Wunder of Hamilton County, Ohio received a one-fourth interest, and Fred Kirby of Highland County, Ohio received a one-fourth interest. A corporation document was filed in October 1944 as the Hillsboro Livestock Company. The corporation’s president was Walter West and Dwight Teegardin was the secretary.
The company leased lots along the B&O Railroad to Long West and Company. In the years prior to 1931, livestock was driven on foot to Cincinnati before a market was built in Hillsboro.
On Feb. 21, 1958, the Washington C.H. Union Stockyards Company purchased the Hillsboro Livestock Company. The original stockholders were Harry McGhee, C. Holland, D.F. Brown, Dean Godden, C.R. Philhower, Doris Kirkpatrick, Arthur Berger, T.C. Mendenhall, William Musser, Lee Salisburg and Dwight Teegardin. The corporation name changed on Feb. 10, 1959 to the Union Stockyards Company. Stockholders at that time included John Barnes, William Nace, Robert Mace, Ralph Shanks, Dwight Teegardin, William Meuser, N.B. Fannin, Ralph Stitt and John O’Conner. On Oct. 9, 1961, the Harry Sauner Farm was leased for backgrounding cattle.
The Union Stockyards facilities were located in downtown Hillsboro for many years.
On Aug. 23, 1965, a meeting was held to develop a special graded feeder calf sale at Union Stockyards. Highland County Extension Agent Ivor Jones served as temporary chairman until a new slate of officers could be elected. Harry Knauff of the Locust Grove area was elected chairman. Union Stockyards has been known for its feeder calf sales since that time.
In February 2007, the Union Stockyards moved to its new facilities at 7510 SR 138 at the northeastern edge of Hillsboro where it operates today.
For additional information visit www.unionstockyards.net or call 937-393-1958.
On May 26, 1969, William R. Butler from Belmont County moved to Hillsboro and became the general manager and a stockholder. Other stockholders included William Mace, Frank Helsel, Jerry Nessell and Dr. Ned Abbott. Butler has been the general manager since that time and now owns the company. More than $50 million of livestock has passed through the Union Stockyards in one year. Livestock comes from at least 25 Ohio counties and the neighboring states of Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. Weekly auctions are held on Thursdays and special sales are held on Mondays.
United Producers Inc. (UPI) was formed by farmers in the early 1930s to try to get a fair price for their livestock and to provide needed services to the farmer members. UPI was originally named Producers Cooperative Commission Association and was formed in 1934 by the merger of the Eastern Order Buying Company, Producers Livestock Credit Association, and livestock markets in Pittsburgh, Pa., Columbus and Cleveland. Eastern Order Buying Company and Producers Livestock Credit Association continued as subsidiaries of the new parent company.
In 1943, the name was changed to Producers Livestock Cooperative Association. Thirteen markets were purchased in 1946 from an individual named Dr. Sharon. In 1956, the name became Producers Livestock Association. The Cincinnati Livestock Producers Association merged with Producers Livestock Association in 1962. This action brought in another six markets, making a total of 19 markets involved. Today, there are approximately 40 sale barns and collection points that have at least three million head of livestock passing through the system each year.
United Producers in Hillsboro was originally part of the Cincinnati Livestock Producers Association.
In October 1999, Producers Livestock Association and the MFA Livestock Association in Missouri merged together, producing a new parent company named United Producers, Inc. With the unification of these two organizations, a governing board of directors was established along with a delegate system. Today, the board of directors is comprised of 16 livestock farmer directors, each representing a district within UPI’s territory, and up to two at-large directors. The delegates, elected by the members, elect the directors.
Craig Adams of the Leesburg area currently serves as state board chairman.
In 2001, UPI acquired the assets of Interstate Producers Livestock Association in Illinois and the Michigan Livestock Exchange in Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky, which was operating as a division of Southern States Cooperative. United Producers, Inc. continues to provide a variety of livestock marketing and credit and risk management services. It does approximately $1 billion in sales each year.
The Producers Livestock Association (PLA) in Hillsboro began in the 1940s with a daily hog market. Hogs were loaded onto rail cars and shipped east. Over the years, lamb pools and veal calves became an important part of the markets. In 1956, the current structure at Hillsboro was built and the first auction in the arena was held on April 1, 1957.
Bill Cornelius was manager from 1957 through 1971 and Willie Gruelle served from 1971 through 1983. Donnie Everetts became the manager in 1983 and he served until 2006. Logan Edenfield, Randy Morgensen and Scott Rittenhouse have recently held the managerial position with Rittenhouse currently serving as manager.
Producers Livestock Association in Hillsboro was highly involved in the development of the Southern Ohio Feeder Pig Association. Thousands of graded feeder pigs passed through the arena from the year 1959 through the mid 1990s. Feeder calf sales also became a major part of the business and PLA in Hillsboro held its first graded feeder calf sale in 1957.
Since the original structure on West Main Street near the city’s western edge was built there have been some major additions. A feed handling and livestock storage area was added and another feeder cattle holding facility was added later. A new sale arena for hogs, sheep and goats was also added. This arena permits the main sale arena to be used entirely for cattle and other large animals so that both types of sales can be held at the same time.
The Hillsboro facilities handle an average of 22,000 cattle, 28,000 hogs and 11,500 sheep and goats each year. Weekly general auctions are held on Mondays and special sales are also held on Mondays.
For a list of special sales visit www.uproducers.com. The phone number is 937-393-3424.
United Producers is a member-driven livestock cooperative where anyone who utilizes its services can become a member. Anyone interested in learning more about the preferred member program is invited to contact the Hillsboro office or visit the website.