Elevator

Gloria Wilson Fuhrmann writes: "I worked in the summers of 1948 & 1949 in the office of the Sam P. Wallingford Grain Co. operated by Jiggs Davidson. He hired me to do bookeeping, do moisture tests on grain, and figure wheat tickets- dockage, etc and write the checks to the farmers. Also I made out Bills of Laden for the Railroad as wheat was filled into boxcars. Of course he had to sign everything, but I felt rather important for a 15 yr old and on my first paid job other than babysitting. After harvest sometimes, Jiggs, (C.C. Davidson) would skip town for a day or two, so I was called to go up to make out checks, then get his signature, and deliver the check to the farmer.

Bernice Stonehocker, (mother of Cecil) was hired to do all the weighing and scale tickets at that time. 1948 was the first year of the moisture tests. We had a new tester, Had to get a sample off the truck, weigh it put it into the tester and it took several minutes . This was at the North elevator, that the following article about the wooden grain elevator was written."

On October 23, 2009, Gloria added the following: "I am viewing this & want to make a few comments for accuracy. Under Elevators we need to make it known that Frances Snyder (later, Frances Kloefkorn) worked at the Foley Elevator immediately south of the Wallingford. I do not know of the dates it started. It would be nice to know more about it..Dan Foley & wife operated it in the early 1930's. It was larger than Jiggs elevator. But he was much more particular on damp grain and starting of harvest.

I remember the tractors trying to move the grain cars & used lugs just plowing the ground under it for traction. The tractor just bounced up & down until it finally moved. I was scared for old Jiggs. It was exciting to watch. Then I think it finally gave out & they hired you which probably had rubber tires. There were bets on when it would move the cars, but it did & I was scared for you. Finally the chain had to be adjusted for new level dirt for traction. Foley would call Jiggs to move a car for him.

I would also think we need a Corbin Store or Grocery subtitle. I know Jesse Cox owned one before Whits called General Store I think. Just North of the Lodge on the ground floor with the postoffice in it. This may be in the postoffice notes, but as to the store Corbin Grocery was owned by Opal & Whit (Whitten), Ruth & Clifford Lungren, Max & Orene Utterback, & maybe more, I had left there by then."

The following article by Barbara Krupp Selyem first appeared in the May/June 2006 issue of "Grain Journal Magazine". It is provided courtesy of the Country Grain Elevator Historical Society, a 501 C3 nonprofit corporation. For more information about the society please call 406.388.9282 or email bselyem@cgehs.org. The photo is © Bruce Selyem and used here by permission. The Selyem's Web is: http://www.grainelevatorphotos.com

A Lot of Stories to Tell... May/June 2006

Written by Barb Selyem. Photos by Bruce Selyem

The wood elevator at Corbin, KS will be 100 years old in 2007. It’s a battered structure–worn out by time, use, and weather. The storage bins haven’t been filled for a long time, and the bucket elevator has been idle since 2003, when the Famers Cooperative Grain Association quit using the concrete stave silos on the northwest side.

Artifacts record the obvious. The elevator is a metal-sided, frame structure. Some of the siding has blown off leaving holes that invite pigeons and other birds. The raised headhouse records an extension made to the wood leg, when the silos were installed in 1958. That leg was replaced with a steel one in 1968.

The old engine mount and line shaft components are still there, but they became obsolete when electricity became available in the 1930s. Once an 8-foot climb up the ladder from the work floor led to the manlift. Now, the lift is gone, and only tracks remain.

Observation provides clues to the genealogy of the elevator. Though most of the paint has worn off except for overlapped brush strokes, the name “Wallingford” is faintly visible on the rail side. “Wolcott & Lincoln” is on the end of the office. A sign across the street says “CO-OP.”

Chronological Records
Recorded deeds reveal more ownership details: 1922 – Hunter Milling Co. bought the property from Luella F. Stewart.
1946 – Ralph and Velma Moore.
1947 – Moore Grain Co. (name change only).
1948 – Sam P. Wallingford.
1974 – Garvey Grain.
1988 – Wolcott & Lincoln.
2004 – The Farmers Cooperative Grain Association.

But artifacts, observation, and recorded deeds are only tangible records. They lack sentiment. Their influence is in the memories they evoke in the people who grew up under the elevator’s domain. “It’s the stories that make the elevator interesting,” says Eric Watts, who has been the manager at Corbin for nine years and began hauling grain there as a kid with his dad.

Some of the Stories

Frances Kloefkorn remembers working at the Corbin elevator from 1943 to 1946. “For a young girl, working at the elevator was a great job. I weighed trucks and wrote scale tickets during the day and then recorded them before I went home. I knew little about farming when I married a farmer in 1945. Because of my elevator experience, I was able to keep his books.”

Jerry Niebaum worked at the elevator for 12 days during harvest when he was 12 years old. He writes in his autobiography, “In 1952, my dad arranged for me to work at the Sam P. Wallingford grain elevator in Corbin. I had two responsibilities – I ran the truck lift to dump wheat trucks, and I pulled boxcars into position with my John Deere tractor.

“It was hot, tiring, and dangerous work,” says Jerry. “One day, I reached for a grease gun that was hanging from a ladder extending up from the 15-foot-deep dump pit. Someone had left the trap door open, and I unwittingly fell in. By grabbing onto the rungs of the ladder, I was able to break my fall. I only injured my pride.”

He continues, “Pulling boxcars required hooking a long chain on the side of the wheels and pulling the chain with my tractor. A loaded boxcar is incredibly heavy – heavy enough to flatten a penny to the size of a quarter. (This we did with some regularity.) It took two of us to move a car. I drove the tractor, and a brakeman on top operated the brakes.

“One time, I caused a boxcar to move too fast. The brakes didn’t work, and the car picked up speed on a slight decline. We tried throwing 2x4s in front of the wheels, but it sliced through them like butter. It came to a stop when it struck another car at the neighboring elevator. A worker on top was thrown off but luckily was not injured seriously.

“Because I had a tractor, I was paid $20 a day. (The other workers only made $8.) After paying my fuel expenses, I netted $200, and I thought I was rich!”

Two Managers in 60 Years

Carl Stiles managed the elevator from 1961 to 1988, when he retired.

“I was raised in Corbin and applied for the manager’s job when Jiggs Davidson died,” Carl recalls. “He had been the manager for 33 years. Between the two of us, the elevator only had two managers in 60 years. By today’s standards, that’s pretty remarkable.”

Carl continues, “I really liked working for Sam Wallingford. He had a great sense of humor. Sam was a good boss, a fair businessman, and a very generous and honest person. He never tolerated cheating a customer at the scales. He used to say, ‘I should have only what is mine, and our customer should have what is his.’

“It’s very sad to see how things have deteriorated,” he says. “We ran a lot of wheat through that old elevator.”

What will come of it now?

Eric Watts says, “The company owns the property the elevator sits on and does not pay any lease to the railroad. There hasn’t been any talk about tearing it down. I do know if a tornado came through, the company wouldn’t replace it.

“We still use our steel bin storage, and though we no longer load to rail, we do load a lot of trucks. I’m here every day, as someone always needs something. It gets lonely at times, but there is always something to sweep.”

 

Barbara and Bruce Selyem are directors of the Country Grain Elevator Historical Society. For more information, contact the society at 406-388-9282; e-mail: bselyem@country-grain-elevator-historical-society.org.




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