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BY MIKE AVITT
Before the Mount Ayr Sale Barn was built, livestock auctions were held in what we call McCullough Apartments at 119 East Madison. This building had previously been a livery barn. In 1935, Guy McCullough converted the sale pavilion into apartments and offices.
The next sale barn was located at the Wilson farm in northeast Mt. Ayr, just south of the Ringgold County Hospital. Remember the barn just south of the house? That was it. It was operated by Messers McNutt and Webb. They held their last sale there in November 1939.
In October 1939, Floyd Miller, Glen Dixon, and Flavel Maloy bought land from Sada Dowling just west of Rose Hill Cemetery for the purpose of erecting a sales pavilion. Lumber for the project was purchased from Mt. Ayr Lumber Co. and Hawkeye Lumber Co.
The first sale was held December 5, 1939, with 700 head of livestock passing through the gate. Gross receipts totaled more than $15,000 according to clerk Carson Williams. More than 500 vehicles filled the parking lot and side streets. The Mount Ayr Livestock Market was a grand success.
Floyd Miller sold out to his partners in 1941, and, in 1949, O. B. (Jack) Hutchinson, Cleo Burchett, and John Vanderflught bought the business. Cliff Lungren became a half owner in 1950.
Alvin Tull owned the sale barn before Howard and John Henry bought it in 1959. A fire in 1967 resulted in $6,500 in damage. Steve Taylor bought the Mt. Ayr Livestock Market in 1978. Mr. Taylor had ownership longer than any other proprietor.
Somewhere around 2005, the sale barn was sold to Rob Curley and the last sale was held May 23, 2007. The building was dismantled in August 2007.
When the sale barn was built, Fay Bryant was hired to manage the cafe. Mr. Bryant had operated Bryant’s Sandwich Shop since 1932 and was a trusted and valued member of the community. Bryant built the skating rink in the sale barn parking lot in 1941. The Sale Barn Cafe had many managers but I only have information on a few.
Irene Tull and Cora Catterson were managers in the late 1950s. Iola Rice was there in the early 1960s and in July 1968, Lucy Maudlin took charge of the cafe.
Mrs. Maudlin and her husband, Ellis, hosted fish frys on weekends for some time. Lucy left in May 1972. Carol’s Kitchen had a ribbon-cutting in May 1994 with Carol McCreary as manager. The last day the cafe was open was May 19, 2007.
The road we call the “Sale Barn Road” was previously called the “Watterson Road.”
I am preparing for a trip to the Dominican Republic and I won’t have an article for the next three weeks.