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Matamoras Minute: Business and products

Matamoras was always a center for the gathering of an important line of products that are associated with the early years. At the commission house, butter, eggs, and chickens would be gathered and then shipped to market. Because of the vast stocks from the surrounding farming country this was a bustling business. The general stores themselves would play a large role in this line but for a number of years so did J.B. Parker, an independent dealer.

In about 1913 the Ravenswood Product Company joined in the competition and bought the Heddleston building on Broadway to begin operations. It was succeeded by the Sheets Produce Company and in turn by J.C. Sheets. The business then turned over once more to be renamed Sheets & Stoutz with most of their shipment going to the Pittsburg market.

In 1925 one of the busy places about Matamoras was the Royal Creamery through which a large amount of butter was sold to city markets. The plant had been organized as a cooperative creamery around 1914 and operated until 1919 when it closed.

Two years later L.D. Cope, R.D. and James H. Robinson along with Ross Drennen bought it and resumed production. This creamery was well equipped and daily produced 1,400 pounds of butter. The cream came from the farms in back of Matamoras, up and down the river, and West Virginia locations. The butter was branded under the Autumn Leaf name.

Markets were in Bellaire, Wheeling, Pittsburgh, and even Philadelphia along with other destinations in the eastern part of the United States. It was the only creamery along the Ohio River that shipped in railroad car lots.

In connection with the creamery, an ice plant was operated. For the days before refrigerators, ice in the warmer months was in great demand. The plant in Matamoras had a 15 ton unit with a capacity of six tons of ice daily. The people in town and country were steady customers.

This building has been purchased by the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Our plans are to turn the grounds into a park and house exhibits in the structure when renovations are completed.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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