The Holiday Turkey Business

Dublin Core


The Holiday Turkey Business


In the early 1900's, Madison County developed into one of the largest turkey raising and processing centers in this area of the country. On several hundred farms and in the backyards of many Richmond residences turkeys were hatched in large numbers and timed so they would reach the desirable weight and tenderness at Thanksgiving and Christmas times. Many farmers found that raising large flocks of turkeys was an excellent way to have a "cash crop" in the early days of winter. However, a lot of turkeys were raised in small numbers by children and housewives with an eye toward some spending money for Christmas.

By the middle of November 1911, the A. L. Gott Co., the chief Richmond processor, had purchased over 7,000 Madison County turkeys at 12₵ a pound. The birds were dressed here and shipped to Eastern markets-chiefly Boston, Mass-at 20₵ a pound. It was estimated that there were still about 12,000 holiday turkeys in the county to be sold and processed.

By the third week in December it became obvious that the Eastern poultry buyers were not going to let the supplier name just any price, and several thousand dressed but unsold turkeys had to go into cold storage. Embry and Moberly at Waco, and A.L. Gott especially lost heavily in that unexpected revolt of the consumer. Much of the surplus was sold in smaller amounts during the next several weeks, but at considerably lower prices.

In the fall of 1915, a cooperative effort of six poultry dealers resulted in the processing of enough turkeys to send one or two railroad carloads per week to the Eastern markets during November and December. Each car held between 1,300 and 1,800 dressed holiday birds. The owners received 17₵ a pound that year.

Also in that same year another independent poultry dealer, F.H. Gordon and Co., bought several thousand additional Madison County turkeys to process for the holidays. It was estimated that in 1915 local turkey growers earned a total of $20,000.

Mrs. John Doty on her Irvine pike farm near the city limits raised the largest turkey of the year, a Mammoth Bronze gobbler which weighed an even 50 pounds. She received $8.50 for it, about the same price that was being paid that year for a 100 pound hog.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “The Holiday Turkey Business,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 29, 2023,