Stockman and butcher Andy Dexheimer

Rhonda Chalfant - Contributuing Columnist

In 1896, I. MacDeMuth praised the livestock raised in Pettis County as “the best breeds in the largest numbers.” He also identifies nine retail butcher shops and one meat packing house in Sedalia.

The 1895 Biographical and Portrait Gallery of Johnson and Pettis Counties notes that the livestock industry was “not the most prominent industry in Pettis County,” but that it was growing and receiving a great deal of interest, in part due to the quality of stock raised locally.

Andy Dexheimer was named as one of the men responsible for the increased interest in livestock, in part because he had “gained a commendable degree of material success.” In other words, Dexehimer had made a great deal of money raising and processing cattle.

Dexheimer’s parents, William and Catherine Rodman Dexheimer, were from Hesse-Darmdstadt, Germany. They came to this country and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1860, the family moved to St. Genevieve County, Missouri. Seven years later, they moved to Sedalia, where the elder Mr. Dexheimer managed a dairy farm and vegetable garden.

Their son Andy was born in 1851 and attended the elementary schools in St. Genevieve County. When he was sixteen, he came with his family to Sedalia where he worked on his father’s farm. In 1875 in California, Missouri, he married Helen Neighbors, who had been born in Chariton County, Missouri. The 1880 Census notes A. Dexheimer, wife Helen and children Charles and Mattie living in Sedalia, but does not provide a specific address. The couple would eventually have six children—Charles, Mattie, Christine, James, Andrew, and David.

In 1880, Dexheimer went into business for himself, working in the wholesale butcher business. He took advantage to newly developed technology, the 1878 invention of the refrigerated railroad car that allowed butchered meat to be shipped to distant markets.

By 1895, the business had grown, and the meat processing plant, located on Brushy Creek near the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks, was 24 feet by 36 feet or 864 square feet and was furnished with the “latest appliances for the slaughtering of stock and the preparing of the beef for the market.”

Dexheimer grew rich from his business; the Biographical Gallery attributes his financial success to “years of arduous toil,” noting that Dexheimer had to rely on his own labor rather than on inherited wealth. With the money Dexheimer made, he was able to purchase an “elegant residence” on West Second Street and a sixty-one acre farm in Cooper County near Tipton, Missouri.

In 1895, son Charles was working with his father in the family business and the other children attended the Sedalia public schools.

Like many businessmen of the time, Dexheimer was interested in community betterment, and could always be relied on to support needed municipal improvements. He supported the Republican Party,

and while steadfast in his political beliefs, he was not fanatical. He and his family were members of the English Lutheran Church. He was a member of the Unity Lodge or the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Although Dexheimer did not own one of the larger farms or herds in the county, he still made a significant contribution to the livestock industry through his wholesale business.

Rhonda Chalfant

Contributuing Columnist

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