In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday we are going to share a wonderful story about a large poultry farm that used to exist on the south side of Monroe Street, from Harroun Road east, where the Kroger store was built in 1982, and then expanded in 2005. This also included the adjacent BP gas station.
The Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery had been established in 1922 in Sylvania. In 1925 the Snyder-Parker Monument Company of Toledo purchased the 24.73-acre property across the street. That same year Lellah Nash was hired to manage monument sales in Sylvania. The company was headquartered on Dorr Street across from the Cavalry Cemetery. In 1925, when this Monroe Street property was purchased, there was a large two-story double house at the corner, a large one-story sprawling barn with several additions, and an old one-story residential home east of the barn. This property spanned south to include both sides of the creek, with Harroun Road at its west border.
This story is about the large barn owned by this monument company. During the Depression years Nash struggled to pay the mortgage on the property and in 1931 the property transferred back to the bank. In an effort to gain the property back, Nash began renting out the barn and the houses to various families. It was the Staab family who, in 1934, first managed the operation of a small poultry business in the barn for Nash. They started with 250 turkeys and by 1938 they were raising up to 1,500 turkeys at one time. By 1936 the monument company was able to gain the property back from the bank.
The Nov. 23, 1938, issue of the Student Prints newspaper, published by local high school students, reported that 1,500 turkeys at the Sylvandale Farm on Monroe Street were happily oblivious of their coming demise, saying that within 12 hours many families would be enjoying the delicious sweetness of “Half Face, Cripple Bill, Gray Bonnett and Funny Face pets of Florence Staab, cheery, robust proprietor of the farm, who just loves raising turkeys.” Staab told the reporter that the turkeys had to be raised under very sanitary conditions, on wire for the first 12 weeks, and then on the ground until they are six months old, then they were ready for the roasting pan.
The 1940 census shows Florence Staab renting a home on the Monroe Street property and listed as part-owner of the turkey farm. She was listed as 47 years old. Living with her was a lodger named Alexander Nowakowski – 20 years old – single – employed as a laborer at the turkey farm. At this time Russell Wickett and his wife Hattie were renting the large two-story home and he was employed as a salesman for the monument company.
According to a history written by Nelva Purkey-Phillips (sister of Lellah Purkey-Nash) Phillips and her husband Chester managed the Sylvandale Turkey & Poultry Farm from 1946 to 1953 while Lellah Nash owned the business. She said that they sold turkeys, chickens, capons, ducks and geese and their daughters Beverly and Blanche helped them make a very successful business, introducing the first Butterball Turkeys in this area.
Mrs. Phillips wrote that they hired many Sylvanians during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and that Raymond DePew was their faithful hard working employee and served as their main turkey slayer. She said that her daughter Beverly had a pet duck named “Quacky” and she would walk it on a leash to Hollidays 5 & 10 cent store in downtown Sylvania. All the way there cars would honk and wave as they passed her along Monroe Street.
In 1951 the Phillips family started Chet’s Restaurant in downtown Sylvania. They served extra-large hamburgers and a dinner special including their famous chicken dinner, and of course the chickens came from their poultry farm. She said that Sandra (Judd) Hayes, Shirley (Schoenegge) Paul, Ray DePew and Beverly and Blanche Phillips would spend their noon hour coming from Burnham High School to serve customers, and then they would return to school to finish their day. They gave up managing the poultry farm in 1953 and sold Chet’s Restaurant in 1956 according to her written story.
The first available Suburban Directory, published in 1957, listed only the two-story house at 6223 Monroe St., and shows Carrie Dunn living in the old home. Every directory thereafter shows that the turkey business no longer operated there. But records show that before Mrs. Nash went out of the turkey business she allowed the turkeys to roam in and out of the large home, eventually totally destroying it.
The front sign on the large abandoned barn in the 1958 photo reads: “Home of Sylvandale Poultry – Live and Dressed – Famous for Oven Dressing – Phone TU2-2571.”
According to the Sentinel Herald dated Jan. 19, 1961, “Another Sylvania landmark disappearing slowly from the Sylvania scene is the old Sylvandale Turkey Farm on Monroe Street. Owned by Mrs. Lellah Nash, Toledo, part of it is being moved just west to serve as a sales office for the Monument Co. Mrs. Nash would not comment, when asked, what plans she had for the future development of the farm site.” In 1969 Lellah Nash bought the property from the now defunct Snyder-Parker Monument Company and she rented the home and property at Christmas time to sell Christmas trees, wreaths and grave blankets. Remember?