The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight On Business: The La Harpe Elevator, 102 Railroad St.

 by Deb Olson, The Quill

The La Harpe Elevator of today has grown and changed along with the city over many years.

It stands in the place that, for many years, has been associated with the storage of and movement from place to place of grain.

One of the earliest mentions of a grain elevator in La Harpe is found in Gregg's History of Hancock County (1888). Gregg wrote,  Henry Hyatt entered the grain trade in 1859.

He purchased the elevator near the depot. The average amount of grain handled at the elevator was 100,000 bushels of wheat, 30,000 to 40,000 bushels of oats, and 20,000 to 30,000 bushels of rye.

A previous Pioneer People article printed in the Quill in March 2002 describes a fire at the elevator in 1871.

According to an early La Harpe history by Peyron, from the 1840's through the 1860's the following men were listed as grain dealers in La Harpe; H. C. Coulson, Charles Cochenour, Henry Hyatt, Wm Young, Headen and Stansbury and George Coulson.

This same history lists under businesses for 1899 - 1901, in the category elevator, grain and coal dealer the names of George Coulson and B. J. Headen.

A file at the La Harpe Historical and Genealogical Society Museum shows the old elevator as pictured in a cook book circa 1911. The advertisement is for Coulson & Mesick, dealers in grain and coal.

In 1918, James Mayor entered the business with his uncle George Coulson. Their partnership continued until Coulson's death in 1929.

Mayor continued to operate the elevator until he sold to Bob Jones in September of 1956, 60 years ago this month.

Although Mayor sold the elevator and grain business to Jones, he moved into the former Headen Coal Office east of the elevator taking with him his thriving coal business.

In an interview with the Quill, printed in March of 1960, James Mayor described his partnership with his uncle George Coulson and named Adams and Mesick as his uncle's previous partners in the business.

In discussing the old elevator he said he didn't remember exactly when it had been built but that he believed William "Bill" Young had a hand in its construction.

The wooden construction of the old elevator gave way to the modern steel bins and electricity which brought light for office work and for the machines to keep grain dry and to move grain more efficiently.

Mayor also noted the change in the varieties of crops produced. It started out that grains like wheat, oats and rye were the commons crops but by the

1960 s farmers were growing more corn and soybeans.

In 1971, a group of partners, Laurence and Eldon Harrell, Estil Neff and Robert Kennedy, bought the La Harpe Grain and Feed (the elevator) from Bob Jones. and renamed it Main Street Elevator.

In 1986, Terry Rouse and Phil McCleary bought the elevator from the partners who then in turn sold to Hubinger and H. J. Heinz in 1989. Hubinger did away with the feed part of the business.

Then in 1994 Hubinger sold the La Harpe Elevator to Roquette.

Currently Mike Falk is manager at the elevator.

Sharon Hocker is the grain accountant. with Teresa Leenerts as seasonal office help.

The elevator is open for business from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p. m. Mon - Wed, and from 6:30 a.m. to noon (12 p.m.) on Thursday and Friday. The elevator is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Today both the La Harpe Elevator and the Blandinsville Elevator are owned by Roquette.

To get further information about the elevator operations, its products and services call the La Harpe Elevator at 217-659-7736.

What we know now is that the La Harpe Elevator has changed greatly in the many years since it was first built, much like the city itself. And yet, the elevator has remained one of the city s constants over time, a bridge between the past and the future.

La Harpe Elevator Employees Teresa Leenerts (left) is seasonal office help and Sharon Hocker is the grain accountant. Not shown is Manager Mike Falk.