In 1948, the farming income of Shelby County was disappearing due to competitive prices on cotton from West Texas and on tomatoes and watermelons from South Texas. To survive, it was imperative that the county and its farmers find an alternative revenue source.
Five visionary leaders of Shelby County recognized this dire need and dedicated themselves to the creation and establishment of a poultry industry for the area. This memorial honors these men and their story: County Agent John Moosberg, Martin Middleton of Middleton Milling Company, Jack Motley, President of Farmers State Bank, and Malcolm and Martin Weaver of Weaver Brothers Lumber Company.
Moosberg, Motley and Malcolm Weaver traveled to Gonzales, Texas, to explore the poultry business. Excited about its potential, Moosberg asked Middleton and Martin Weaver to accompany him on a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for further study. Upon their return, all five men agreed that this poultry industry would be a natural for Shelby County!
Middleton started the first broiler feed operation in East Texas and facilitated bulk feed trucks and transport of the chickens. Jack Motley provided the funding for the purchase of baby chicks, feed, medication and poultry equipment. Martin and Malcolm Weaver, along with Arch Price of Ralston Purina, designed the
first of its kind, 20' by 120', 3,000 chick capacity, long-style poultry house. The Weaver brothers built and financed this broiler house for Willie Cordray who raised the first batch of chickens. Moosberg coordinated these efforts resulting in a broiler grow-out time of 11 weeks and netting a profit of $537!
This began the rapid growth of broiler production in the region and made Shelby County the birthplace of the commercial broiler business in the long-style poultry house for Texas and Louisiana. To this day, Shelby County is still the largest poultry producer in Texas.
This memorial is a tribute to the vision and hard work of these individuals who risked their personal finances and reputations for the development and growth of a secure economic future for Shelby County. This community will forever be indebted and grateful for the commitment, leadership and labors of these outstanding men.