By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
CINCINNATI, Ohio — It was 1913. John “Butch” Stehlin, a cattle driver, was taking a herd from the Shandon, Okeana area to Cincinnati. The rains came. The entire area, including the stockyards, flooded. That led to the beginning of Stehlin’s Meat Market, now celebrating 100-years in business.
Stehlin found a barn to hold the cattle. He eventually slaughtered them and sold the meat to the local people in Bevis, where the meat market is located today.
“That’s how he got started, out of the necessity and nowhere else to go with them,” said Denny Stehlin, John’s grandson. “He set up shop, delivered product with a horse and wagon.”
John Stehlin left to serve in World War I, Denny said. On his return he picked up his career on the busy corner of what is now Interstate 275 and Colerain Avenue, just down the road from Northgate Mall.
“John had three sons, Vern, Erv and Harold – Harold was my dad,” Denny said. “They started working here as little kids. They learned the business, decided to stick with it and eventually took over. All of us kids started working here when we were in grade school. Four of us are still here today, eventually taking over from our fathers – my brother John, cousins Dick and Ron.”
The Stehlins still slaughter cattle and hogs, the only red meat slaughter facility under the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) program in the Hamilton County/Cincinnati area, said Matt Flenner, ODA supervisor for meat inspection for the Cincinnati district.
“They’ve been under the meat inspection program since the induction of the program which was in 1969,” Flenner said. “They have an exemplary inspection record.”
On a recent week Stehlin’s slaughtered 20 hogs and 13 cattle, Stehlin said. They use some of the meat in the market and some of the animals are slaughtered for individual livestock owners.
“The beef and pork (used in the market) is all from local farmers,” Stehlin said. “We’ve been dealing with the same ones for years; we’re into the second and third generation of the farm families.”
Alan Herrmann said the Stehlin are great to deal with. His is not a large cattle farm but they supply the meat market with beef.
“I’ve been going there close to 50-years,” Herrmann said. “When they’ve got an opening and need some cattle we take some down. I’ve dealt with their dads and their Grandpa John.”
Customers appreciate that local quality. They line the counter, numbers in hand, waiting for their turn to buy typical butcher shop items as well as the unique products offered.
“What is unique is the type of product we put out,” Stehlin said. “Ours are generally specific to this area. You get 30- to 50-miles outside of this area of Cincinnati and people never heard of a lot of this product. We use old family recipes that we’ve been using forever and it is the quality of the product and the spices and things that we add to it.”
Specialties include pork sausages, brats and metts, goetta, German potato salad, and smoked items such as bacon, cottage hams, spareribs. All are made using the old-fashioned dry-cure methods with salt and sugar and a touch of nitrite, Stehlin said.
“We burn only green hickory wood, no liquid smoke or no mixed hardwood sawdust,” Stehlin said. “That really enhances the flavor and makes a great difference, in my opinion.”
For more information, visit www.stehlinsmeatmar