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Little Shop of Butchers: 1900

Little Shop of Butchers: 1900

Detroit circa 1900. "Smith & Yendall, Grocers." Also butchers of poultry, dressed and undressed, & cetera. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.


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Butcher Shop Location

I am the great-granddaughter of the "Yendall" in the partnership of this picture. My grandfather assumed the partnership from his father. My grandfather lived as child (from age 3 in 1883) above the butcher shop. (Given the ages of the Smith & Yendall families, I am thinking this picture is from the 1890's and the 2 boys are my grandfather & his brother but can't be sure) He wrote his memories of the neighborhood and working in the shop which I have been transcribing. He states that the shop was on Woodbridge near First Street and that he began writing down his memories (in his seventies) when they flattened the area to build Cobo Arena. I would like to know how the identification of this building as being on Jefferson Ave came to be since it doesn't match with the information I have.

Before the Butchering

Hair is removed from the pig. One way is surrounding the pig with straw and setting it alight. Then the soot is scrubbed away.

Wooden Indian Statue

Before Detroit was known for making automobiles and other machines, it was known for two things: cigars and cast iron stoves. It used to be home to the worlds largest cast iron stove, and it sat outdoors in front of the State Fair Grounds on Woodward and 8 mile up until the '60s or '70's I believe. Anyway, the wooden indian statue to the bottom left was a very common sight in Detroit prior to the 1920's or so.

Early in the day.

Judging by their aprons, it must be early, before work, or they changed their bloody aprons for clean ones...

But really, what I want to know is why all the men have mustaches but no beards? Don't they realize how silly they look? Oh, of course they don't, or they would dress differently. :-)

Detroit renumbering

33 Jefferson became 464 Jefferson in 1921 which puts the store smack dab in front of the Ren Cen across from the Blue Cross Bldg, which is 441 Jefferson.

Would today's housewife?

Know what to do with those turkey necks. I bet the lady upstairs did.

[As did my mother. -tterrace]

Early Rotissserie?

All those chickens hanging directly in the sun behind a piece of glass can't stay edible for long. Maybe the sun keeps them from smelling "fowl" long enough to get home and in the boiling pot. Or rotate them half a turn and at 4pm each day they're ready to eat. Either way I'm going to pass. This is another "how did people survive back then" pictures.

Those pig feet

Appear to be rising out of the mold in the lower right hand corner of the plate. Must be cheaper than getting them from the farmer.


Detroit renumbered all addresses in 1920. This might explain the variation, but not the change from odd to even side. More here.

Or, alternatively

Shop of Little Butchers.

& cetera

At the bottom right I see what I assume to be a bunch of dead pigs on their backs, but I'm not sure what I see at the far lower left: a wooden Indian in front of a tobacco store? Lady Liberty crossed with a turkey?


Good to know Mom's keeping a close eye on the boys from upstairs!


By the spooky apparition in the third window from the left.

33 Jefferson

Not sure if east or west. If east, at Woodward by Joe Louis monument. If west, by Hart Plaza. The building, being smack dab in the center of downtown is, of course, long long gone.

And can anyone identify what kind of critter or critters seem to have gone belly up in the lower right corner?

Erased by the Cobo Center

Polk's Michigan State Gazeteer and Business Directory had a listing for Smith & Yendall, grocers at 458 West Jefferson Avenue in 1921.

[The address on the sign says 33. - Dave]

I'll Bite

My eyes need work but it sure looks like legs of something sticking up in the lower right corner. I take back everything I ever said about USDA inspections.

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