The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Virginia Ross, For The Quill
The village of Stronghurst appeared on the map in 1887 when the Santa Fe Railroad decided to build a track from Kansas City to Chicago. For about fifteen years the village was known as "The Magic City" as it seemed to grow and grow. Businesses were established and moved on to other localities.
Being the middle of a farming area and seeing the need, the following individuals signed a document for incorporation of a grain elevator and farm supply store with the Secretary of State in July 1916: Frank Crenshaw, William W. Ross, Oscar J. Sanderson, Charles E. Peasley, Chas. J. Heisler, Ralph Painter, and Edgar Lewis. Their license was granted on Sept. 5, 1916.
The object of said company was as follows: "To buy, sell and deal in grain, seeds, farm products, lumber, coal, lime, cement, salt, tile, fertilizers, farm machinery, appliances and material of all kinds used in about the business of farming and other materials of similar nature, to build or acquire, as owner or lessee and operate and maintain elevators, warehouse, sheds, cribs and other buildings necessary to handle, store, warehouse and otherwise disperse of any articles of merchandise above named and included and to do all and transact all other business necessary or incidental to the conduct or furtherance of the business aforesaid."
The capital stock was $10,000 ($219,740.73 in today's values); 100 shares were sold with each share costing $100. These were purchased by ninety-seven men and three women. The principal office of the business was to be in Stronghurst and the duration of the corporation would be 20 years. Each purchaser paid 50% down and owed the company the remaining 50%. The first board was elected with graduating terms: 1 year-William Ross, N. H. Vaughan, Frank Crenshaw and C.R.A. Marshall and 3 years-Charles J. Heisler, Charles E. Peasley, and Oscar J. Sanderson.
Business was booming so on Feb. 16, 1918 the Capital Stock was increased to $20,000 ($314,863.18 in today's values). A. L. Russler was contracted to build the brick office for $1,290.
1920 saw many changes: the first truck dump in this area was installed; motors were changed from gasoline to electric; a new automatic scales was installed in top of the elevator to automatically weigh grain before it was dumped from the elevator; and a new scales was installed to accommodate trucks with loads up to ten tons. 1929 a radio was bought to receive market reports at the office replacing telephone calls two or three times a day to Galesburg or Macomb.
With the Great Depression came changes for businesses. All corporations and the elevators were required to designate a registered office and an agent for a foreign and a domestic corporation under the new Act. On Sept. 1933 Glen Marshall, the manager, was registered as the agent with Stronghurst being the principal site. In 1935 money was tight and the board filed to sell any and all United Stated Bonds. Business continued.
As the country pulled out of the Depression, more changes were made in laws and in Jan 1937 new corporation papers were filed with the Secretary of State. Those of the board at this time were the following: Frank P. Pearson, W.W. Ross, Oscar W. Beckett, L. A. Worthington, and C.R.A. Marshall.
In 1938 the office was updated and elevator leg and dump rebuilt. The driveway was enlarged to accommodate larger trucks.
From Stronghurst Graphic: Jan. 19, 1939 "Few business enterprises have been more successful in serving the public and its stockholders as well as has the Stronghurst Grain & Merchandise Co. which is embarking upon its twenty-third year. Thru prosperity and depression the directors and managers of the company with the loyal support of the stockholders and other people of the community, have rendered a real service to the public, and at the same time built up a surplus, made improvements, maintained everything in good repairs and paid dividends, the average of which makes many big city corporations look like amateurs..."
Again, in October 1966 papers were filed for the Reorganization of Stronghurst Grain & Merchandise under The Agricultural Co-operative Act, which amended the articles of incorporation to confirm with new provisions. At this time capital stock was divided into preferred and common stock. The preferred stock consisted of 200 shares of First Preferred Stock, First Series, of the par value of $100.00 per share; a possibility of 7,000 shares of First Preferred Stock, Second Series, of par value of $50.00 per share, and a possibility of 10,000 shares of Second Preferred Stock, of par value of $25.00 per share. The common stock consisted of a possibility of 2,000 of no par value and no preference granted. Howard A. Smith was the President and Paul E. Strand, Secretary of the board.
Many changes have been seen throughout the years. In 1988 the Lomax Elevator was purchased increasing the area served. From 1991 to 1992 the South Pit was updated and four metal bins were added. The new office was built in December 1999. Some old bins were removed and flat storage was built. In the late 1990's and early 2000's the North Pit was updated and the majority of storage was constructed adding over 1,000,000 bushels of storage. As it was no longer functional, the Lomax Elevator was torn down in 2015.
Today, Stronghurst Grain & Merchandise, one the largest businesses in town, has the capacity of 1.3 million bushels and offers to buy corn, soybeans and wheat as well as store corn and soybeans. The Elevator also handles the shipping of grain onward to other markets. The dryers can process about 4,000 bushels of wet corn per hour. Four trucks are available for hauling grain. Two pits receive grain from incoming trucks. The approximate yearly income varies as to the markets, but it is consistently more up than down. However, as with any business, some years have been challenging.
Presently, there are 199 shareholders with the board consisting of the following: Lyman Ross, President; Glen Webster, Vice- President; Mitch Lefler, Secretary; Wendell Shaner; Brad Flatt; Kim Gullberg; Brent Burg; Steve Jack; and Jason Kane.
Seven employees serve the elevator and the community: Kevin Box, manager; Ruth Gibb, Administrative Assistant; Mark Overton; Jerry Northrup; Terry Honsmen; Bryce Hanger and Jerry Cook (two or three extra people are hired during harvest). To quote Kevin Box, "We work hard to serve our farm customers."
Documents found in the files, interviews, old photos and Stronghurst Graphic, March 2, 1921.
Stronghurst Quasquicentennial Committee, Stronghurst Revisited, 1887-2012. Galesburg, Il.: GateHouse Media, Inc, 2012, p. 117-118.