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Industry Through The Years


Bellwood Co-operative Bank

Gazette-June 12, 1934

    A meeting was held for the purpose of discussing plans for organizing a Cooperative Bank in Bellwood. There were a sufficient number of signers and a charter will be drawn up.
   Bellwood Cooperative Credit Association's first officers were the following: Alfred Peck, President; John J. Kirchner, and H. L. Stemper, Supervising Committee; O. A. Brandenburgh, Secretary-Treasurer.
   From this beginning in 1934, the Bellwood Co-op Credit Association has developed into a full-service banking facility with checking, insurance, saving and loan services, with policy and programs of the bank developed by the customers. Calvin Sorensen preceded Paul Chatelain as Secretary-Treasurer.


Bellwood Co-op Service Center

   After months of casual conversation by a group of farsighted individuals who believed in the future of their community and the need to join forces to provide a more economical means of procuring their fuels and other needs, a formal organizational meeting to establish Consumers Co-op Oil was held Feb. 21, 1927.
   Selected as temporary chairman was W. J. Puetz, ultimately named as the first board president, a post he was to hold until 1944. Other individuals on the first board of the fledgling company were Rudolph Schmid, vice president; J. W. Kreizinger, secretary; I. E. DeFord, treasurer; and L. B. Wagner.
   The group solicited funds from area farmers, primarily, and established a company with 158 shareholders. The first board of directors managed all aspects of the business from allowing bills to be paid and negotiating for land for future building to its first official act after organization -- ordering a car load of fuel.
   J. J. Kirchner was chosen as the first manager, at a salary of $50.00 per month, after the company was organized. He was awarded $40.00 for the month prior to organization.
   The young company showed sales of $21,896 in its first year of operation and the directors voted a 12 percent patronage dividend with seven percent to be paid on stock. Net savings for the first year's efforts were $3,768.
   As with most industries, the Co-op had its ups and downs financially, the lowest net savings having occurred in 1934 with a dip to $1,710. However, throughout the years, the company has shown a usually steady gain and in 1979 reported net savings of $101,000, on sales of $2,300,000. Members equity in the company rose from the less than $10,000 upon organization to $765,000 at the close of the 1978-79 fiscal year.
   During the early years the Oil Company was affiliated with Skelly and Quaker State, purchasing the majority of its gasolines, diesels and other related items from them. In 1939, the Company finalized negotiations with Consumers Cooperative Association in Kansas City (now known as Farmland Industries), an affiliation which remains in effect today.
   Company facilities were constructed as needs arose with fuels storage being the first concern and ultimately the service station. The present station was built by Walter Hosher who had been awarded the contract for $.75 per hour. The building was ready for occupancy in 1947.


   The Oil Company's fuels storage area was moved to its present location south of Bellwood in 1953 following the most disastrous event of its existence, namely a $7500.00 fire which destroyed the original plant, a 1949 gas truck and injured driver Richard Didier. The blaze was set off by a spark which caused an explosion throwing Didier from the small office.
   In 1954 the Oil Company, began its first sales of fertilizer and showed sales of $7,672. Distillate driver Didier hauled the various products from a site in Columbus. As this looked like a new beginning, the directors agreed to establish an anhydrous plant in 1955. Cost of the anhydrous at that time was nine and a half cents per pound, actual.
   From the mid-fifties, the Company, known as Bellwood Co-op Service Center after 1977, began its plan for expansion into the fertilizer business, while still maintaining the service station, propane and fuels end of operation. Propane plant was established in 1965.
   During 1973-74 the Co-op erected massive storage for dry and liquid materials on the northeast edge of Bellwood, along the railroad right-of-way. The 1970s closed with the first loads of dry and liquid fertilizer being pulled from satellite plants located at Octavia and seven miles west of Bellwood. Fertilizer sales had risen to $1,000,000.
   Perhaps the reason for success of the Co-op has been the dedication of persons closely associated with the business, namely directors and managers.
   One of the first board officers, Rudolph Schmid, later served as president and was recognized for 35 consecutive years on the board at his retirement.
   Other board presidents have been Leo Janicek, Robert Trofholz, Don Semin, Ed Hobza and the current president, Walter L. Mick, who is completing his ninth year on the board.
   Following J. J. Kirchner as manager were Joe Kirchner in 1937; Oscar Pace in 1943; Otto J. Selzer, Jr., in 1948; and Elmer J. Micek, in 1979. Selzer holds the employment longevity record with 32 consecutive years, including his years as manager.

Farmers Co-operative Grain Co.

   Many grain dealers have served the Bellwood area since the early 1880's, some of which were: Spelts & Klosterman, Central Graneries, Nye-Schneider-Jenks, later becoming Nye-Schneider-Fowler, Golden West, Holland, Morrissey Bros., F. E. Gage and the Farmers Grain Co., which has been providing a market place for the area farmers crops for 70


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   Although considerable time has been spent researching the early history of the Farmers Co-op Grain Co., the sources have been very limited. Every effort has been made to authenticate what has been written. Some information thought to be correct has been omitted due to lack of substantial evidence.
   One Stock Certificate in the amount of $25.00 issued by a Farmers Cooperative Association on Dec. 16, 1892 has been located in old company records. No other information about this cooperative has been available. Apparently it did not survive the times for a very long period of time.
   The Farmers Grain Company was incorporated on Feb. 12, 1910, with the Articles of Incorporation filed with the Secretary of State on March 3, 1910. The original Board of Directors were A. R. Brandenburgh, Herman J. Kosch, J. J. Meysenburg, Herman Markus and H. J. Hall. John Delaney was the first manager and served in that capacity until the end of 1919. The board apparently set out to raise $10,000 to get the fledgling company on a sound financial basis from the beginning. This was accomplished by selling $100.00 shares to the local farmers.
   On April 28, 1910, the Farmers Grain Co. entered into an agreement with M. J. Holland to purchase the "Holland Elevator," coal sheds, office building and scale for the sum of $6500.00.
   On Jan. 23, 1914, the Farmers Grain Co. filed documents with the State of Nebraska officially declaring the company a Cooperative. The word "Cooperative" was not officially inserted into the company name, though, until Jan. 18, 1927.
   After Mr. Delaney's tenure as manager, Carl Jacob served as interim manager from Jan. 1, 1920 until April 18 of the same year, at which time Leo Urban was hired as manager. He held this position until his death in 1935. Ray Kimble came to Bellwood on July 1, 1935 to become the new manager. It was during Ray's management that major storage expansions were made.
   The Board of Directors on Jan. 10, 1938 authorized the purchase of the Golden West Elevator in Bellwood owned by Mr. Gerald Ehrenberger for the consideration of $2200.00.
   The first concrete elevator was built in 1950 with a capacity of 324,000 bushels and a cost of $141,000. The first addition followed in 1954 costing $133,000 and holding 344,000 bushels. The second annex of 343,000 bushels followed in 1958 with a price tag of $116,000. The third annex, being the north elevator with the headhouse, was built the next year for $179,000 and has a capacity of 290,000 bushels. Twenty years later, in 1979, two large diameter tanks each holding 165,000 bushels, were built at a total cost of $333,000. This brings the companies licensed storage capacity to 1,685,000 bushels.
   This last major elevator construction was done during the management of Alfred J. Hanus, who became acting manager on Sept. 24, 1962 following the death of Mr. Kimble and officially named manager effective Jan. 1, 1963.
   An explosion ripped through the first concrete elevator on March 27, 1959 causing considerable damage to the basement and headhouse areas. Seriously injured in this explosion were Jim Mick and Walker Meyers, both employees of the Farmers Co-op Grain Co.
   At the Feb. 6, 1961 annual meeting stockholders authorized the directors to proceed with the purchase of the Bellwood Lumber Yard owned by Walter Hoshor. After the privately owned hardware store in Bellwood went out of business, the Board of Directors on Oct. 15, 1962, contracted to erect a 32 x 60 Butler Steel building for the purpose of entering into the hardware business as a companion to the lumber department. A 32 x 60 addition to the store, doubling its size, was authorized on April 10, 1972. On Jan. 1, 1963, Robert R. Bell was named as company asst. mgr. and shortly thereafter was named to head the Hardware and Lumber Department. He held this position until September, 1979 when he was transferred to the Grain Department as Dept. Manager, with primary purpose of learning grain merchandising. At this time Dean Hilderbrand was named as head of the Hardware and Lumber Department.

   The feed mill became a reality on April 20, 1966, when the Board entered into a contract with Quad States of Des Moines to construct a feed mill for a final cost of nearly $74,000.00. An addition to the warehouse area of the mill was completed in 1969. At the time of construction, Joe Romshek was hired to head the Feed Mill Department and has continued on in that capacity to the present time.
   The construction of the present company headquarters was approved at the 46th annual meeting held on Jan. 14, 1957. Construction was by Walt Hoshor and was completed that same year. An addition to the building by Meister Construction, including a manager's office and a second floor meeting room, was begun in May, 1980. This office replaced smaller frame structure which was located between the present office and the railroad tracks. This older office had a shorter scale which was not long enough to accommodate the longer grain trucks that were now being used in the grain business.
   At about the same time that the new office was completed in 1957, Maxine (Mrs. Gerald) McDonald began her employment with the Farmers Co-op Grain Co. as a secretary. On Jan. 3, 1969 the Board designated her as "Office Manager."
   Other employees are Emil Kula and Mike Kozisek in the feed department, John Navrkal and Larry Navrkal in the elevator department, and Harry Morbach and Bob Speicher in the hardware and lumber department.
   The Farmers Co-op Grain Co., through 70 years, has grown from a budding idea and need of many energetic farmers to a company which last year had total sales of over $7 million and a net savings of $278,000.00 and serving 522 stockholders. Since its beginning, the company has returned to its stockholders $4,792,000.00 in the form of dividends.



Tearing down the old elevator.



   New office of Farmers Co-operative Grain Co.


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Farmers Cooperative Grain Co.

Names and Dates of Those Who Have Served As
   Directors During the70 Years of the
      Farmers Co-op Grain Co.
A. R. Brandenburgh, 1910 - 1917
Herman J. Kosch, 1910 - 1941
J. J. Meysenburg, 1910 - 1937
Herman Markus, 1910 - 1930
H. J. Hall, 1910 - unknown
F. J. Kreizinger, 1918 - 1953
L. B. Wagner, 1931 - mid 1932
Henry Ebel, Sr., mid-1932 - 1952
J. M. McNally, 1934 - 1953
Frank Eller, 1938 - 1946
Harry Reisdorff, 1942 - 1960
Ben Reisdorff, 1947 - 1961
Carol Zimmer, December 1953 -
Fred Zwiener, 1953 - 1964
Cyril Birkel, 1954 - 1969
Robert M. Bell, 1954 - 1971
Wayne Schmid, 1961 - 1969
Louis Mick, 1962 - 1973
Dwaine Schmit, 1965 - 1973
John Morbach, 1970 - 1976
Kenneth Ebel, 1970 -
Leonard Klein, 1972 - 1979
Don Meysenburg, 1974 -
Ed Schmit, 1974 -
Len DeWispelare, 1977 -
Marty Brezina, 1980 -

Kosch's Garage


   Adolph Kosch had the second garage in Bellwood. This picture of his garage was taken in 1914. That is Adolph standing by the gas pump. His mechanic, Fay Smith, is standing in the shadow in the doorway. This garage set north of his home on the west side of the main street, just a bit south of Cyril Birkel's new home.
   The first garage was run by Pete Powers which is now the fire station. Powers built this brick building in 1912. Adolph Kosch purchased the building in 1917 and moved his business there that year.


Post Office

   Communication has been the source for growth since time began and Bellwood is no exception. Dating back to the days when mail was addressed to "Patron" mail, in one form or another, has been making its way here.
   Earliest records indicate E. F. Hutchinson and a Mr. Taylor held the first postal franchise, operating out of their general store.
   Mr. Hutchinson was declared the official postmaster in 1883 and he was followed by M. Warren, 1889; C. S. Burch, 1893; and Phillip Smith, 1899-1911.
   During Smith's term as postmaster, the post office was located in Herb Taylor's jewelry store. Some 160 boxes were placed for village residents. The rural routes extended 27 miles on one and 24 on the other. Carriers Joe Rose and Bryant Buffalo used horses and mail carts. The individually numbered mail routes were discontinued in 1962.



   This building set on the west side of the main street one-half block south of the bank (lot 9 block 6) and was well known to three generations. It was owned by Phil Smith and during his term as postmaster from 1897 to 1913 was the BeIIwood Post Office.
   H. A. (Herb) Taylor was a jeweler and had his store in this building. He sold and repaired watches, clocks and bicycle parts. After his death in 1931 the store was operated as a variety store by Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Fair for several years. The building set idle for several years and was torn down some time in the 1950's.


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© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller and Carolyn Wilkerson