The Griffin Wholesale Company, which purchased the Denison Grocer
Company Building in 1930 and the Waples-Platter Building in 1941, also operated
the Denison Peanut Company for over 36 years.
The peanut factory was established in 1910 on the south side of West
Morgan Street between Austin Avenue and Rusk Avenue, by a Virginia-born pioneer
named Mr. Woody. After less than a year in operation, Barnhart Mercantile of
St. Louis, Missouri, bought the operation. George O. Morgan was manager of the
company during the Barnhart’s twenty-four years in operation at the plant. On
Labor Day, 1930, one of Denison’s worst fires swept the site, heavily damaging
the main structure and wiping out some of the other structures. Repairs were
made, and business resumed without much delay.
Barnhart Mercantile Employees
23 February 1931
In 1935, Griffin Wholesale, already operating the two other
companies in Denison, bought the peanut company and added a number of new
products, including peanut butter and oil. George Homer became manager during
the Griffin operation, and eventually he purchased the firm, which became known
as Griffin Leake.
Denison Peanut Company
200 block West Morgan St.
February 8, 1938
Source: Collection of Grayson County Frontier
A 1939 publication described the factory in this
way: "A peanut processing company, in addition to the manufacture of
peanut butter, oils, and dairy feed, engages in the processing of pecans, 7,500
pounds of which are handled daily in season. Shelling by mechanical methods is
developing an additional industry, with numbers of farmers planting pecan trees
in former waste space on their lands." (United States, Federal Writers’ Project of the Works
Progress Administration in the State of Texas, The Denison Guide.
American Guide Series [Denison, TX: Denison Chamber of Commerce, 1939], page
Louise Musmecci Meek and Katherine "Katy" Musmecci Miller, sisters, worked at the peanut factory during the 1930s.
Griffin-Leake began expanding in 1964, building a big new warehouse
on the property.
George Morrow, born in Alabama but raised in Graceville, Florida,
moved to Durant, Oklahoma, and did a term as mayor. In 1947, he purchased the
Durant Cotton Oil Company, which he sold to Gold Kist in 1966. He took over as
manager of Griffin Leake in 1969 and bought the firm in 1971. At the time, the
company moved away from peanut butter and expanded more into the seed peanut
business. In 1975, the company had seventy-five employees, and a new office
structure was built across the street, on the southwest corner of Morgan Street
and Rusk Avenue. In 1979, the Wilco Company took over the peanut plant. Charles
Workem was president of the company, which continued operations for another
decade before closing the historic plant.
1984 Denison Peanut Factory