our Grain Elevators

One business that has grown in the Ellsworth comunity is the Grain Elevator.  In early years, these elevators were privately owned and operated by the owners.  They bought and sold grain, retailed salt, coal, seeds, flour, feed and supplies such as drainage tile and fencing material.  The owners of these first elevators were Joe Olsen, Harry Rude, Abner Reynolds (west elevator), Sam Brinton (east elevator), and George Potgetter.

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This 1907 photo shows the new A. Reynolds and H. E. Rude Company located just north of the tracks.

The first farmer-owned grain elevator was established in 1916.  They purchased the Rude and Reynolds grain company for $9,000, and started doing business as the Farmers Elevator Company of Ellsworth, Iowa.  It was a stock company and shares were sold for $50 each.  In 1916, before buying the Rude and Reynolds grain company, they asked contractors to give them bids for construction of a facility to operate in.  One of the contractors who bid was Younglove Construction Company.  That company would later, in 1954, build Ellsworth's first concrete elevator.

The following article was published June 1, 1916 - Ellsworth News:


Farmers Buy Elevator

The farmers Elevator Company of Ellsworth is now a certainty.   Tey have been organized for several months, but up to this week, had not made any definite announcements as to whether they would buy out one of the elevators here, or build.

On Monday evening they finally came to an agreement with Reynolds & Rude when they bought out the holdings of that firm.

The purchase price was $9,000 and they will take possession of the business on or about the fifteenth of June.

It is not known at this writing as to who will be the manager of the new elevator company but the directors already have several applications.   There is no doubt but what they will use their good judgment, and secure a man as manager that will always work for the good of the company.

The outgoing members of the firm of Reynolds & Rude consisting of A Reynolds and H. E. Rude have stated that they have not made any plans for the future, and it is earnestly hoped by all the people of Ellsworth that they will decide to remain in Ellsworth and devote their energies in a business way.   They are both numbered amongst our best boosting business men, and the loss of their assistance in all enterprises would be greatly felt by the town of Ellsworth.

(June 1, 1916 issue of Ellsworth News)


Owner Joe Olsen and Archie Sanford of the Ellsworth Feed, Grain, and Coal Company

From 1916 to 1920, the company operated as a stock company, and the profits were paid out based on the number of shares each member owned.  In 1920, they reorganized the company and operated as a cooperative, basing the refunds on the amount of sales and purchases each share holder did with the company.  At the annual meeting in 1920, they ammended the by-laws to limit the number of board members to nine.  They limited the term of office to 3 years, with 3 members' terms of office expiring each year.

The Elevator Company

This Farmers Elevator Company that began in 1916, operated from 1920 to 1936 as a cooperative stock company.  In January of 1935, there were only four persons who came to the annual meeting.  This was not enough for a quorum, so the meeting was adjourned to a later date.  In February of 1935, a meeting was called and directors were appointed and a drive for new members was started.  The company reorganized as a membership company with memberships selling at $10 each.

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This photo from a 1926 postcard shows six businesses along the tracks on the east side of Main Street.  At left you see the coal bins, two grain elevators (east & west), the early lumber yard, the stock yards, and the depot.  At the south side of the tracks, you see the Osborne flour mill.  Mr. P. B. Osborn, the owner and operator, began operation of the mill in 1899, producing 75 barrels of flour a day for the townspeople, as well as for the neighboring territory.  Mr. Osborn was widely known for his abilty as a miller.  Later, flour from the larger company mills from the larger towns was shipped in, forcing Mr. Osborne to discontinue his business.  The building was vacant for many years, until is was razed to enable the road east of Ellsworth to be straight.

The assets of the old company were transferred to the new company and the name was changed to the Farmers Cooperative Company of Ellsworth, Iowa.  The name has now changed to the Ellsworth-Williams Cooperative Company, but it is still organized under the same charter that was registered with the state of Iowa in 1935.

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The Potgeter Grain Company ran the Ellsworth Plant for grain storage until 1948.

Large concrete Elevator

Younglove Construction Company built the first concrete elevator in Ellsworth in 1954.

From a start with $9,000 in facilities, the Ellsworth Farmers CO-OP Company later owned $2,500,000 in facilities.  The services and sales offered are grain drying and storage, feed manufacturing, feed sales and bulk feed delivery, sale of anhydrous ammonia, dry fertilizer and fertilizer spreading, L.P. gas delivery and service, delivery of gasoline, fuels, grease and lubricating oil, sale of agricultural chemicals, and sale of lumber and building supplies.

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The Ellsworth Farmers Co-op and Grain Elevators are seen on the east side of the southern end of Main Street.

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(Click the image to enlarge.)

Railroad cars are seen between the depot and elevator towers.
They are in place ready to pick up grain.

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Todd and Sargent constructed the new concrete elevator towers in the mid-1980s.
This is an aerial view of the completed Ellsworth Farmers CO-OP Company plant.

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