Search billions of records on

The Humboldt Elevator Association


Ron Gatheridge

On July 12th in the year of 1919, the Articles of Incorporationof the Farmer's Mutual Elevator of Humboldt were filed in the office ofthe Register of Deeds of Kittson County. These articles called for theduration of the company to be 20 years. This act constituted the beginningof the corporation which is now known as the Humboldt Elevator Association. The persons forming this corporation were T. F. Brown, John C. Johnston,Albert Brown, A. H. Anderson, John Franks, Fred Bockwitz and Edward Florence.

The government of the Corporation and the management ofits affairs was invested in a board of seven directors, all of whom wererequired to be members of the corporation and were to be elected by thestockholders at the regular annual meeting of the corporation. This annualmeeting was set to be held on the second Saturday of July of each year.

The first officers of the corporation were John C. Johnston,President, Fred Bockwitz, Vice-President, and T. F. Brown, Secretary -Treasurer.

At the time this elevator was formed there were five elevatorsin operation in Humboldt. They,the St. Anthony and Dakota, the McCabe Brothersoperations, the Red Lake Falls Milling Company, the Hill Elevator, and aFarmers Elevator Company that had been formed a few years earlier and hadbeen managed first by J. D. Irving and later by Nels Finney. The new Farmer'sMutual Elevator bought out the McCabe brothers and started business withAlbert Brown as the first manager. Each of these elevators had a numberon them so it would be much easier for the railroad to distinguish one fromthe other.

About the year 1920, the Red Lake Falls elevator ceasedto operate and was torn down. After this the original Farmer's Elevatorwas taken over by the Farmer's Mutual Elevator.

Ralph Kempf of Page, North Dakota, replaced Mr. Brown asmanager in 1927. Mr. Brown going on the road for McCabe Bros. at this time.

In the fall of 1931, the St. Anthony and Dakota Elevatorwas destroyed by fire and not rebuilt so now where there were once fiveelevators, only two remained. It was also about this time when the Farmer'sMutual Elevator Company ceased to operate at Grampian. This elevator hadonly a wagon dump and with the appearance of the farm truck was no longerneeded as it once was. Bill Sylvester took care of this elevator most ofthe time while it was operating, being there mostly in the fall and othertimes when needed. Nels Finney assisted at times also.

On June 2nd, 1933, R. L. Kemph was hired as manager forthe ensuing year at a salary of $150.00 per month. At the annual stockholder'smeeting on July 8th of the same year the entire board of directors was re-electedfor the ensuing year. The board of seven members at this time was JohnHemmes, W. G. Reese, Carl Wiese, R. L. Kempf, Fred Bockwitz, Ole Berge,and W. S. Ash. Director's meetings were few and far between about this timeand the minutes of meetings were rather sketchy but Fred Bockwitz was President,John Hemmes, Vice-President and R. L. Kempf, Sec.-Treasurer.

On August 6, 1935, the board approved the sale of the Grampianelevator to the Humboldt Farming Coinpany for a cash price of $500.00. This elevator was subsequently torn down and the lumber used to add on tothe elevator at Northcote which was at that time operated by the HumboldtFaming Company, which was actually M. J. Florence.

On July 2, 1938, at the annual stockholders meeting, aresolution to make some changes in the by-laws and articles of incorporationwas voted on and passed. Mainly this change provided for the end of thefiscal year to be May 31st and the annual meeting to be on the second Saturdayin June of each year, instead of July, as had been previously. It alsoprovided that the board President and Secretary-Treasurer be elected annualybythe stockholders and five directors be elected, one for one year, twofor two years, and two for three years with subsequent terms being for three years each. Previously the entire board had been re-elected each year. This new election resulted in W. G. Reese being elected President, JohnHemmes Vice-President, and R. L. Kempf, Secretary -Treasurer. Other directorselected at this time were Earl Babcock, Ole Berge, Carl Wiese, and AndrewAnderson. The original articles called for the duration of the company tobe 20 years. This would therefore, expire on July 12th of 1939 so the boardwas authorized to take action to extend this for qnother 20 years. Todaythe duration of the company is listed as perpetual, and all board membersare elected as directors for three year terms each and they elect from amontheir group, a president, vice-president and secretary-treasurer.

On April 31, 1941, a contract was let to T. E. Ibbersonco. to build a 60 thousand bushel annex on the north side of the elevatorsat an estimated cost of $10,692.00. The business seemed to run pretty smoothlythrough these years of the early forties and the company progress quitewell. Operations were with two houses joined together with two pits andtwo hoists and a 60 thousand bushell annex. Most business or practicallyall until about 1945 was done with McCabe Bros. Commission Co. At aboutthis time some business started to go to firms such as Cargill and BensonQuinn. A man by trhe name of Schultz did the auditing for the company formany years except 1942, when the auditing was done by a Mr. Morrison. R.L. Kempf was still manager and "Shortie" was Assistant Manager.

Suddenly on August 13, 1946, a disastrous fire leveledthe entire plant. Immediately the board took action and at a special stockholdertsmeeting held on August 24, just twelve days later, it was unanimously agreedto rebuild as quickly as possible. The board met with contractors and discussedplans and on September 10, 1946, seventeen days after the fire a contractwas let with Hoganson Construction Company to build a new house of 60 to70 thousand bushel capacity calling for a net profit to Hoganson ConstructionCompany of $7,000.00. During this same period steps were being taken toamend the by-laws and articles of incorporation so as to becore a tax exemptcooperative. Meetings were being held with Mr. Dangers of the U. of M.on this matter. The amended by-laws and articles of incorporation wereapproved by stockholder vote on November 7, 1946. These new articles changedthe name to the Humboldt Elevator Association.

Construction of the new elevator continued throughout thewinter of 1946 and 1947 and by the spring of '47 it was back in businessagain in time for seed cleaning and spring business.

On February 2, 1948, after 2q years, Mr. Kempf resignedhis position as manager of the elevator. Later he managed an elevator atHendrum, Minnesota for several years before retiring to live in Minneapoliswhere he passed away several years ago. At thistime when Mr. Kempf resigned,Mr. Carl Moe, auditor for Benson Quinn Co., and Mr. Walter Gillespie, afield man for Benson Quinn, were in attendance at the request of the board. Mr. Moe was hired at this time to audit the books of the company and hecontinued doing this work until he retired in 1965. His place in the BensonQuinn company was filled by Roy Pinske, who is presently providing the companywith a quarterly audit and final audit each year.

Bob Boatz of Enderlin, North Dakota, was engaged as manager,replacing Alve Benson. He assumed his new duties on June 1, 1951. It wasshortly after Bob arrived that "Shortie" was given a six month'sleave of absence by the board to try and regain his health. Alfred RustadJr. was hired in his place for this six month period. "Shortie"was unable to return to work, however, and in March of 1952, Max Turnerwas hired as assistant manager. Max stayed in this capacity until he accepteda manager's position at Hadler, Minnesota, later at Brocket, North Dakotaand then into the Benson Quinn office in Grand Forks. Max is presentlyin charge of the Benson Quinn operation at Minot, North Dakota.

At the annual meeting of June 15, 1955, a motion was passedcalling for a special stockholder's meeting to be called to vote on severalchanges to the by-laws and articles of incorporation. Since the outstandingcommon stock of the association was at a minimum it was deemed inadvisableto require each stockholder to hold $50.00 worth of stock rather than $10now required. It was also felt to be for the best interests of the companythat the end of the fiscal year be changed from May 31 to December 31 tocorrespond with the calendar year and the annual meeting date be the secondTuesday in February. This special meeting was held on August 8, 1955 andthe proposed changes were approved by the stockholders.

This year of 1957 was the year that Max Turner left totake over the managership of the Hadler elevator. Maynard Docken was hiredas assistant to Bob to take his place. Maynard left in 1964 to take employmentin an elevator in North Dakota.

At the annual stockholder's meeting on February 11, 1958the by-laws and articles of incorporation were amended to read that no interestbe paid on capital stock. During the summer of 1958 death claimed W. G.Reese who was at that time, president of the board of directors. Mr. Reesehad served as president of the board continuously since 1939 except forthe year 1946, when he served as secretary. The board appointed Earl Getschelto fill the vacancy until the next annual meeting and James Bernath waselected to be President of the board, a position he has held since thattime.

After coming through a complete investigation by the InternalRevenue Service in the late 1950's without being hurt too much the boardfelt that so many amendments had been made to the by-laws and articles ofincorporation over the years and as rules and regulations were constantlychanging it might be well to rewrite these documents in their entirety. Charles Nieman, of the firm of Nieman and Bossard of Ninneapolis, and aspecialist in co-op law was engaged for this work. The new Articles ofIncorporation and by-laws were adopted by the stockholders at a specialmeeting held on December 6, 1961.

In the early fall of 1962, the board was faced with ihedecision of whether or not the association should buy the Brown Oil Companybusiness and operate it in connection with the elevator. Many meetingswere held and much discussed on this proposition until August the boardvoted not to purchase this business.

Around 1963 and 1964 was about the time of so much emphasisbeing put on protein content of barley. With this in mind, the board votedon August 13,1964 to set up a room in part of the office and purchase aprotein tester to help in the buying and selling of this grain.

Richard Maier was hired as manager's assistant in Julyof 1964 replacing Maynard Docken who left at that time. Richard is presentlyback at his old position but was gone from February of 1967 until July of1968. During this period his position had been filled by Wayne Stewart.

With the introduction of the hopper bottom railroad graincars in 1965, it became necessary to install a new track loading spout higherup on the building as these cars had to be filled from the top instead ofthrough the side door as the old cars were. This project was authorizedby board action on December 23, 1965.

Bob Boatz resigned in 1969 to take over management elsewhereand his job was taken over by Richard Rosevold of Mayville, North Dakota.

The Humboldt Elevator Association is now close to the endof fifty-one years of operation. It has weathered the ravages of wind,rain, hail, fire, drought, and competition from other elevators in its earlieryears. Much credit is due to the builders of this business. This includesthe managers, the directors, the public and its business, and to the commissionfirm it is associated with. This is one firm that has been here and ispossibly here to stay for quite some tirne, but that only depends on thepeople around it and around Humboldt. The people that serve it best.


1. Original Articles of Incorporation, Jan. 27th, 1942

2. William I. Gatheridge, Interview on Feb. 2, 1970. Humboldt,Minnesota 56731

1>1. Original Articles of Incorporation, Jan. 27th, 1942

2. William I. Gatheridge, Interview on Feb. 2, 1970. Humboldt,Minnesota 56731