Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

Ellisburg/Ellis Meat Market
In the late 1700s or early 1800s, the exact time is probably unknown, surveyors planned the most direct route possible from Trenton to Salem.  This road crossed a crocked lane in a region now know as Cherry Hill.  The intersection was on farm land owned by an Ellis family.  In later years an enterprising Ellis built a tavern and wayside inn at the junction.  Thus Ellisburg was born.  Another enterprising offspring opened a meat market in a nearby village of Haddonfield, which became an institution in the town as well as the nearby countryside.  The first proprietor of this market was Llewellyn Ellis who eventually passed the store on to his son Charles who expanded the store to the making of sausage, hot dogs, cold meats and lard.  He also built up four routes to do door to door selling throughout the town which was divided into four sections.  The salesman driving the horses and wagons on their routes were on the streets two or three times a each week, and the rest of the week they spent working in the two small buildings in the rear yard of the meat market making sausage, hot dogs, scrapple, lard and cold meats.  Ellis's was located on East Main Street opposite to where Tanner Street dead ends.  The two houses in the rear originally was a private school operated by a Mrs. Kirby who lived in the frame house that stood between the meat market and the Baptist Church.  Mr. Ellis secured the two buildings and used them for his ice house, slaughtering, and pork products which he could then manufacture.  Stan Redman was a teenager learning the meat cutting trade, and with two helpers would walk to the railroad station certain morning to meet the trains bringing a load of several dozen pigs.  They would get out of the car by a chute and be driven down Main Street with Stan and his aides using sticks to guide them.  There was no traffic in those days but occasionally animals would get under a trolley car which was always a problem.  When the market was reached, up the alley the herd was driven to be placed in one of the little houses until slaughter time.  Two big metal tubs wee in the yard filled with scalding water, and when the pigs were slaughtered they were doused in the scalding water so that the hair would come off easily.  When the butchering was done the meat was divided into whatever it was meant to be used for.  The pigs were all corn fed and were not those from neighboring farms as Mr. Ellis would not have them. Note: back in those days there were two separate refuse collections.  One was garbage (waste food stuffs) which as kept in a separate can with a top and collected by the “garbage men” to be fed to hogs.
One building was where the sausage and hot dogs and other products were made.  Brine barrels were there for the curing of the hams, and stoves that burned oak logs to give them the flavor.  In there, too, was the pot where the fat was boiled for lard.  The other building was an ice house where ice chopped from the frozen Evans and Hopkins Ponds (imagine the winters we had then!)  was lined up in rows, then rows piled up on top with sawdust in between, so that in the summer time the wagons going around town had their ice in bin sections cold to preserve their fresh meat.  All these operations were dispensed with when wholesalers in Philadelphia could supply dressed pigs and beef.  Then the employees could stop being jacks of all trades.  However, this was not done until after World War I, as Stan Redman remembers the local prize fighters coming to the store to drink the blood that was part of their conditioning.  Also how the Chinese in town would take the flaky fat off the intestines to use them in preparing some of their native dishes.  Stan Redman supplied all of the material used for this recount of a business which was once an institution in Haddonfield, and its passage should not go unmentioned.

[update in 2003 by Charles H. Ellis II]
In 1903 Charles and his second wife, (his first wife Clara passed away) Louisa Hilbert Ellis had a son Frank (NMN) (my father) (1903-1967). Frank was a four letter man for four years in High school and wanted to pursue a career in sports perhaps going to college and becoming a coach.  However, upon finishing High School, his dad, Charles told him that “you are my last son and you have to take over the business”.  Ultimately they employed William Stevenson who worked for them for thirty-two years.  Frank and Bill worked the retail store and Charles (grand pop) worked in the rear buildings manufacturing the famous Ellis’ Scrapple, sausage, etc.
In 1928 Frank married Darthea Grace Ash. (1902-1953). In 1937 they had their only child, a son, Charles Howard Ellis II, me.  Somewhere around the late forties Charles sold off the rear portion of the market property 118 Kings Highway to the city which built the parking lot there today.  In 1948 Charles passed away.  In 1949 Louisa sold the property to George Westcoatt, Realtor®  who sold the land for an A & P market and moved the house and market buildings back on the west side of the parking lot. Another Interesting Note: In 1959, Mr. Westcoatt rented part of the market, now back next to the city parking lot, to the father of a very promising young printer. In the basement you could still see meat hooks used in the original meat processing.  That promising young printer is none other than my best friend, Bill Mormann now retired and living in the lap of luxury in Fort Myers, FL.
The business was given to Bill Stevenson who moved it down to the Estates area on Haddon Avenue.  Interesting note: in the back yard behind the market and my grandparents home was a large box wood hedge.  Those boxwoods are now in front of what was Governor Driscol’s house overlooking Hoppies Pond.
My father always said “if you ever become a butcher it will break my heart!”. I am eternally grateful to him for allowing me to choose my own career.  So in 1955 I joined the Navy and learned electronics. In 1967 I moved to Ventura.  In 1974 I moved to West Loa Angeles and went to UCLA for three years and got a BA and MBA and opened a real estate office in Westwood (L.A.).  In 1984 I was Los Angeles Realtor® of the Year. I now live in Northridge (I made the San Fernando Valley My Home) and I am semi retired selling an occasional home and teaching at UCLA. I often wonder how much the California market near our store and the San Fernando Valley song of the forties influenced my decision to move to California.
The only Ellis butcher left is my cousin George who has a market out on Route 38 in Mount Laural.

Charles Howard Ellis, II


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