Towanda Grain Company Submitted by Steve Fincham, 2006 The Towanda Grain Company was originally owned by Hans Sachs and was operated as a lumber yard as well as grain business. It was sold to Maurice and Price N. Jones in the early 1900's. They continued the operation until 1908 when they sold it to the newly formed corporation registered with the State of Illinois as the Towanda Grain Company. The first Board of Directors included: C. H. Ceiger, President, James Donahue, P. N. Jones, D. W. Secretary--Treasurer, P. J. Henderson, B. W. Stover, and Louis Kraft. Orren Clark was the first manager of the new corporation. In December 1921 capital stock was increased, it was reorganized as a co-operative. A new elevator was constructed in the mid-1930's which is still being used. The Board members were very foresighted in their planning, demonstrated by the fact that they installed a driveway of sufficient width and height to easily accommodate the large trucks of today. Another innovation was a slotted floor which made the unloading of grain into the elevator a much simpler operation. A fire in 1951 destroyed the office and a portion of the lumber year. A new and more modern structure was soon in the building stage. At this time a new scale was also installed, which could weigh larger trucks than had previously been possible. 1955 saw the addition of a feed mill for the convenience of the livestock men in the area. However, it was discontinued January 1, 1976. More storage room was added which necessitated grain drying facilities. The first such equipment was installed in 1962. More bins and driers have since been added until the present storage capacity is six hundred thirty--four thousand bushels. Managers through the years have included Orren Clark, E. Gatliff, Burditt Kraft, Frank Brewster, Henry Burr, Bill Loftus, Clark White and presently Stephen Fincham (according to the 1976 book). Mention must be made of two long--time employees; Adam Kwasigroh who came from Germany, was with the organization for years. The other employee, Seldon Devore who after many years of service retired and still lives in Towanda. The records show that the Grain Company has dealt in everything from Case automobiles, farm machinery, tires, coal, hardware, lumber, seeds, livestock feed and supplies to farm tile, depending upon the needs of the surrounding agricultural community. (copied from the 1976 book). In 1980 the Grain Company purchased the Mallard Miller home South of the elevator and built six 1000,000 BU steel bins.
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During the 1980's numerous changes were made to upgrade the equipment and to pan ahead for future needs. Listed below are the highlights. Replaced dryers with two 4,000 BU per hour Zimmerman Dryers Built two new concrete tanks, 320,000 BU each, and put a 10,000 BU per hour pit and leg in the storage East of the office. Built two 500,000 BU flat storage buildings on the Henderson Heir's land West of the elevator. This land is leased each year. Spent $55,000 to asphalt all the gravel roads around the elevator and office. They also put three oiler systems at the three receiving pits (cost of $40,000) to keep the dust and dirt from causing a problem with the neighbor's homes.
At the present time, 2005, The Towanda Grain Company has 3,100,000 BU of storage and dry 8,000 BU per hour (taking out 5 pts. per hour). The Towanda Grain Company will be 100 years old in 2008. Tracy Kessinger was worked as an elevator employee since 1978 and is still employed. During the past 100 years, the Grain Company has employed 3 full-time bookkeepers. They are Jean Perring, Ellen Marquardt, and Dollie Fincham. Steve Fincham retired as manager in 1998. There have been several other managers in the time since his retirement. They are: Todd Steinberg, Tim Boerma, and Randy Sexton who is the current manager.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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