As the Cedar City community sheep herds increased in number, a cooperative organization was established to aid those stockholders in more effectively distributing and marketing the growth of the herd. The Cedar Sheep Association became a well managed, dividend paying company that provided a measure of security during the community’s lean years. By 1879 there were more than five thousand sheep in the cooperative herd and shareholders had sufficient wool for the women to card, spin, and knit and sufficient mutton for home use.
To supply fresh meat for the community, the sheep association drove twenty-five to thirty fat old ewes to town each week where they would be dispatched by the local butcher, Charles Ahlstrom. William R. Palmer writes, “Early Saturday morning, before the flies became too active, the people rushed to the butcher shop on Main Street to buy a leg or front quarter of mutton. It was never cut up smaller than that. Plucks (the heart, liver, and lungs) were given away at the slaughterhouse to the kids who swarmed there like flies on killing days.”
After the wool needs of the town were met, the balance was sacked up and freighted to Provo or Salt Lake City and traded for groceries and hardware. These goods were transported back to Cedar City, and sold at the co-op store. The stockholders would draw their dividends in the form of merchandise instead of hard currency. The Cedar Sheep Association disbanded in 1917. The Cedar Sheep Association building is currently the home of Bulloch Drug on Main Street.
Another Co-op venture was the Cedar City Co-op, otherwise known as “The Old Reliable”. William R. Palmer worked in this co-op and shared the following story:
“Dealing all the time with people, the clerks came to know their vagaries. Aunt Manie was one who always expected the clerk “to throw something in.” She came early one year to do her Christmas shopping, and I waited on her. On her list was a pound of peanuts. I opened the drawer and there was a big mouse in the bin. I scooped it with the nuts into her sack. She said, “Now what are you going to throw in for a Christmas gift.” I said, “I have already thrown something in, you’ll find it soon.” I expected to have her in my hair any day, but time went on to the end of January before I saw her again.
She was back to trade, and at the end as usual, she asked me to throw something in. I said, “Aunt Manie, I threw something in the last time we traded, and you have never thanked me for it. It was when you bought some peanuts.” “Oh!” she cried, “I never got one of those nuts. I put them in my trunk to keep for Christmas, and when I opened it to get them on Christmas morning a pesky mouse had got in and ate them all. It also ate holes in some of my clothes.” I lacked the courage to confess my sins, but I made the peanuts up in full to Aunt Manie and gave her a sample package of a new tea to pay for her darning. After that Aunt Manie would trade with no other clerk . . . .”