A hog weighing in at 1,200 pounds raised in Greenwich, in Washington County, was spared the slaughter, at least temporarily, in order to be put on display as an oddity.
“G.V.P. Lansing, a resident of the town of Greenwich, has the unique distinction of having raised and marketed the largest hog ever grown in the world,” The Post-Star reported on March 12, 1919. “The hog was sold last week to Bennett Brothers of Albany, and shipped to that place.”
The Albany meat packer planned to exhibit the Greenwich hog in the Albany area.
“Frank Harppenger, foreman of Bennett Brothers, who has been in the meat business for 40 years, found upon investigation that none of the big packers had ever before heard of a hog the size of the one born in Greenwich. It is stated by the purchasers that farmers from miles about Albany are coming to Albany daily to see the monstrous pig.”
Lansing’s pig may not have been the world’s largest.
A rival claim the record was “Old Pete,” also of Washington Country, which weighed in at 1,500 pounds about a half-century previous.
“Old Pete” was the standard Warren Briggs of Easton was angling to measure up to. Briggs already boasted of owning “the largest hog now living,” The People’s Journal of Greenwich reported om December 30th, 1877.
The two-year-old pig, if slaughtered, would dress out at about 900 pounds.
But Briggs was thinking about letting the pig live a while longer.
“If Mr. Briggs keeps him over another season he intends to try and beat Burgess’ mammoth hog ‘Old Pete.’”
Perhaps Melanthon Duel of Granville, also in Washington County, NY, was more concerned about bacon than bragging rights.
Duel slaughtered a six-month-old pig that weighed 320 pounds, The Granville Sentinel reported on November 26th, 1875.
Northern New York newspapers in 19th and early 20th centuries often reported about large pigs.
In November, 1921, Milo S. Graham of Argyle, superintendent of the Washington County almshouse, boasted to “a Post-Star man” of a record Chester White hog that weighed 519 pounds when dressed.
“The animal was viewed by many farmers in the town of Argyle.”
The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on December 21st, 1883 that “a massive hog” was on display at Vermillia & Hasting’s market on Warren Street in Glens Falls.
“The weight of the animal, dressed, is six hundred pounds.”
To put that in perspective, a contemporary “whole hog,” dressed, provides from 120 to 140 pounds of meat, according to Evermore Farm in Westminster, MD.
Typically, about 57 percent of a pig is edible meat.
Butchers make use of as many parts of the pig as possible.
The Post-Star on February 4th, 1920 published a recipe for head cheese, an economical cold meat dish that could be made for about 20 cents a pound — the equivalent of $2.62 in current dollars, about the cost of a can of a 12-ounce can of Spam.
The ingredients included the lower jaw of a hog’s head.
“Recipe can be doubled if more is wanted,” The Post-Star suggested.
I wonder how many batches of head cheese could be made from a jaw of the “large pig weighing, when dressed, 353 pounds” that Robert Johanasen of Moreau sold to Walter Hunt, owner of a grocery store at Third Street in Glens Falls.
The head, alone, weighed 36 pounds.
“It looks as if it might be a case of either the big head or pigheadedness,” The Post-Star reported on February 7th, 1920. “The pig was about nine months old and was a fine specimen.”
It wasn’t the only hog in the news in winter 1920.
The Post-Star reported on January 12th, 1920 that Joseph Carota of Hudson Falls raised a 515 pound hog.
Photo of Domestic pigs in a wallow courtesy Mark Peters, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary.