The roots of Kieffer Market started in a large barn on the outskirts of Donnelsville, where Charles Kieffer owned and operated a wholesale meat business and slaughterhouse with his two sons Odwin and Orth. Charles was know around the area for being a master meat cutter and was often referred to as being “an artist with a knife.” Twice per week, Charles loaded a horse-drawn delivery wagon with meat and drove from Donnelsville to Springfield to sell his products throughout the city. In an article from the New Carlisle-Sun dated November 28, 1957, he reflected on one such trip to Springfield during the 1913 flood where he was forced to turn his wagon back around at Sugar Grove Hill and return home.
In 1918, Charles Kieffer opened up a store on the southeast corner of Washington and Main Street at 100 South Main Street in New Carlisle. The family rented the property until March 31, 1927, when Orth purchased the building from Otis Makley. Otis and his father Frank had operated a meat market at the location since the 1870s. In those days it was purely a meat market with sawdust floors and marble cutting tables.
The three Kieffers shared in the cutting duties until 1927 when Orth purchased his father’s and brother’s interest in the business. In that same year, Orth married Esther Tressler and moved his new bride to the apartments above the store. The Kieffer’s business soon became so successful that they were shipping hams to both coasts of the United States. In later years he added country sausage to his stock and shipped them across the nation. With the increase in demand for his sausage, Orth had a smokehouse built at the rear of his store to accommodate the increase in business. The formula used by the Kieffers for their sausage was never abandoned and was implemented until the store was sold in 1971.
In the 1937 the meat market was converted over to a grocery/meat market and had a full line of White Villa food products. In a 1938 Kieffer’s advertisement, they were selling a variety of grocery products, including baked beans for ten cents per can, a 12 pound bag of Snow Ball Flour for 40 cents, gumdrops for ten cents per pound, and home-grown cabbage (three pounds for ten cents).
Orth Kieffer was not only a successful store owner, but also an active citizen in the town. He served five years as mayor of New Carlisle between October 16, 1944 and January 3, 1950. Mr. Kieffer was instrumental in getting proper lighting along Main Street with better lamps. He served for 25 years on the New Carlisle Fire Department and was active member of the New Carlisle Masonic Lodge 100. In a recent interview with Orth’s daughter (Dottie “ Kieffer” Flora), she remembered when the fire calls would come into the store. Orth or Odwin would run across the street to the municipal building and ring the fire bell in the belfry to alert the volunteers that there was a fire, while the other brother would tend to the store.
Another story she reflected on was the time when she complained to her mom that she was only making 40 cents per hour, while the other baggers were making ten cents more. Her mom told her to speak to her father about it. Later that night, she told her father that it was not fair that she worked just as hard as the boys, but was making ten cents less an hour. The next day she received a ten cent raise and struck a blow for women’s rights. Her fondest memory of her father was how kind of gentlemen he was and that he was constantly looking out for people. For example, on weekends he would give away food to families that were struggling to put enough on the table and would not allow anyone in town go hungry.
The front of the store was renovated in 1960 with sun-proof glass and aluminum. In 1962, the store was elected membership in the PDQ, White Villa’s deluxe dealer’s organization and new fixtures were installed in the store to increase store space. On Saturday April 3, 1971, Orth ended his career of over 50 years of cutting meat and sold the business to Harry J. Book, who renamed the store New Carlisle Superette and later that year would rename the store Book’s Superette. A few years later it would be sold again and renamed Pat’s White Villa and finally Pat’s IGA.
Orth continued to be active after his retirement from the grocery business. He was a member of the New Carlisle First Presbyterian Church. He also had a passion for model trains with tracks that span his entire basement. Orth passed away on February 1, 1976. He is buried in Springfield at Ferncliff Cemetery.