The Kansas beef industry got its start after the Civil War when millions of cattle were driven from Texas to railheads in Kansas, then shipped East. By the 1890s, after the "golden age of the cowboy" had ended, Kansas continued to be a center for ranching. By the close of the 20th century, Kansas was a leader in cattle feeding and meatpacking.
The American Purebred Hereford Association built the original Emporia Livestock sale barn structure in the early 1900's for dispersal sales and annually housed the Lyon County Fair there for many years.
By 1922, Morris Pyle purchased the building from the association and remodeled it in to the pavilion-structure that our consignors and buyers know it to be today. Back then, livestock sales consisted mainly of mules and dairy cattle.
Soon after Pyle's ownership in 1922, the facility was sold to Allie Martin of Dwight and Paul Hatcher of Emporia. The two later became partners with auctioneer Jess Holmes of Leroy.
In 1925, Hatcher became the sole owner and began operating the sale barn as the "Paul Hatcher Sale Co." Lester Pyle served as the office manager and Holmes remained the auctioneer. The first sale under this new management advertised in area newspapers and hand-written postcards were mailed to the former customers. The sale consisted mostly of Holstein dairy cattle, horses, mules and hogs.
Once farming technology advanced to include the tractors as the main source of power, the sale of mules and horses dwindled and cattle became the main consignments. The first expansion of the sale barn took place in 1939 with the addition of a restaurant, which was open each sale day.
In 1941, a long-time cattleman and member of the both the Kansas and National Cattleman Associations, Olma Peak, became partners with Hatcher and the sale barn was named Emporia Livestock Sales. By this time, saleable items were narrowed strictly to cattle.
As the cattle industry developed and demand for packaged and processed beef became greater, so did Peak and Hatcher's daily involvement. Emporia Livestock Sales saw the addition of more cattle buyers and office personnel.
In 1959, Emporia Livestock was incorporated, succeeded by the incorporation of Peak & Hatcher the partnership, to become known as P & H Cattle Company, Inc., the parent corporation. The next expansion included the addition of the Sunnyslope Feedlot in west Emporia, which carried a feeding capacity of 5,000 head of cattle.
After nearly 50 years at the sale barn, Hatcher retired in 1976 and Peak purchased his interest in the P & H Cattle Co. Inc., and proceeded to maintain all operations associated with each company.
Cattle Sales are held weekly on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Selling Farm Fresh calves and feeders weekly.
In 1978, Emporia Livestock reached its record-breaking year and became of the number one Kansas cattle auction facility based on the volume of cattle sold. By Feb. 1980, the latest construction expansion was completed with the addition of all new sorting pens, offices and a remodel of the Longhorn Restaurant.
By 2003, Olma’s grandson, Brody, started leasing the facility and later purchased the business, keeping it in the Peak family and making it only the second time in 70 years that Emporia Livestock Sales had transferred hands. Brody Peak now carries out the legacy of providing a livestock auction that serves producers and assures a fair, competitive price through the auction method of selling.
Brody says Olma passed at the age of 90, but remain known for saying of Emporia Livestock Sales, it’s “Where Buyers & Sellers Come to Meet”. As a member of the Livestock Marketing Association, Brody says Emporia Livestock Sales will continue to be committed to supporting and protecting the local livestock auction markets.