What’s Old at the Museum – November 2021


Last October, I wrote about a scale that we have in the merchant area of the museum, which was originally used by the Melgund beef ring.  There was information on beef rings in general with it but nothing specific to Melgund.  Ewen Mosby called me and said the headquarters of the beef ring in Melgund used to be on his grandfather’s property.  Bill and Jancie McBrien contacted me and said Bill used to work for the beef ring.  This is what he wrote. “The beef ring was formed by a group of farmers who paid a membership to belong.  Most farms had a few milk cows and a few calves. The beef ring consisted of 20 shares.  Purchasing a full share you would contribute one animal each season and in return, you would receive a full aminal in cuts.  Each week one member contributed a steer.  It was divided amongst the members in a fair way. All beef rings were to be inspected and operated under a license from the Dept. of Health.  The Melgund Beef Ring was formed and was on the Johnny Thomas land.  It was built like a shed.  You took your animal to the slaughterhouse the night before the butcher was to arrive.  The butcher at the time Bill worked there was Art Gibson.  Bill was about 13 then.  The butcher would see fair cuts were allotted to each family and at the end of the season, each shareholder got a full beef or a 1/2 beef with a 1/2 share. The meat was placed in white bags that were provided by the members with their names stitched on the outside.  Sometimes sugar bags were used. Most farms had an icehouse, a well, or a cool enough spot for temporary storage.  Some built an ice well by filling the well with ice and covering it with sawdust and a cover for shelter. The beef ring faded once electricity became available.”                                                                                                                                                       


We are once again partnering with Elgin Museum to deliver ” In Good Taste” products before Christmas.  Enclosed with this Grassland News is an order form that can be dropped off at the Post Office or The Burning Bale.  (See our ad in this issue).  Due to Covid, this will be our only fundraiser this year.  Please support us.  We will have a table at the craft sale to promote this and our book “A Soldier’s Wish”.


We are trying to form an audio library of stories people have to tell us about growing up and living in Hartney.  This will be an ongoing project starting shortly and will be done using digital recordings.  If you have anything you would like to tell us about, please contact Dawne McKenzie at 858-2071 or Barbara Lee at 858-2358. 

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