Daddy “Old Folks” F.B. Purnell
Because he liked to sit and listen to old folks talk, a Tennessee farm boy became known as “Old Folks”…that was my daddy, Fred B. Purnell, who, as a young man, went to work in Nashville for the railroad. He was a steam engine mechanic.
Daddy had been accustomed to his family’s homemade country sausage and found there was none available in the city, so he started making his own in the fall of 1932, using only the choicest cuts from the whole hog. These were ground and combined with just the right blend of salts, sages and pepper.
When packing his lunchbox for work, Daddy would take leftover biscuits from the breakfast table to go with his own ‘Purnell’ sausage. Once he shared his lunch with a helper who enjoyed it so much, he offered to buy whole hog sausage from Daddy. That popular lunchbox started Fred and Clara Purnell in making old-fashioned country sausage a ‘business.’
In 1944, “Old Folks” gave up his job with the railroad because of a disability, and the making of whole hog sausage from his special recipe became a full-time family business. Mamma sewed up the bags that Daddy filled with his homemade sausage. There were a few years when they quit making sausage and had their own packing house and several grocery stores.
Moving the Family Business
In 1950, Fred and Clara Purnell moved their family of six to Louisville, Kentucky. After renting a small plant from the Schwabs, a German family who had been known for making fine bratwurst, we all pitched in and went back to making sausage.
We Purnell kids worked before and after school and whenever needed to keep the business going. My brothers, Fred and Bob, were making “Old Folks” (now our brand name) sausage while Daddy and I went out to sell it, and later, when my sister married, her husband also helped build our company.
By 1955, “Old Folks” had purchased land in Simpsonville, Kentucky and built a new plant with its own water and sewage system. The F.B. Purnell Sausage Company was here to stay.
Now, since 1983, Bob and I own and operate the business. To us, it’s the ‘American Dream’ come true… taking an idea, developing it, and building that idea into a productive, profitable company. We appreciate every customer we have and will continually strive to make the best product available for their satisfaction.
By Allen Purnell
Purnells Story Video in link below.