The Highland Farmers Mutual Benefit Association, known as Highland FMBA Elevator, was organized in 1890. The plan was to purchase an elevator, seed and grain business.
August Mojonnier, the 29-year-old son of Frederick Mojonnier of Sebastopol, was from the French area of Merieses, Canton Vaud, Switzerland, who had arrived April, 1850. August Mojonnier opened his seed and grain business in 1869 in Highland.
“In 1883, Mojonnier sold his grain business to John Guggenbuehler. Gueggenbuehler, in 1890, sold the business to Emile Chipron, later known as Emil, the younger brother of Charles Paul Chipron, known as C.P. (Their father, John G. Chipron, was a farmer in Helvetia Township. His farm was just south of the Latzer Homestead. C.P. was an early inventor, improving a self-reaper in 1860.)
“In 1867, C.P. Chipron became the early machinery dealer on the east side of the Square. C.P. Chipron, in 1874, sold to George Roth, and it became Roth Hardware & Implements (and later Hagnauer & Knoebel Hardware and Implements.)
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“The Highland Farmers Mutual Benefit Association, FMBA Elevator, was organized in 1890 to purchase the Emil Chipron Seed & Grain Business, as Emil Chipron was hired as grain buyer for the Highland Milling Co. taking effect in 1891.”
The Centennial History of Madison County, published in 1912, lists Emil Chipron as being the grain buyer for Highland Milling Co. from 1891 and into 1912.
“The Highland FMBA, with 40 stockholders… built their first elevator and opened at the northwest corner of 6th Street and Walnut in late 1890. The FMBA. was doing a good business, then their original building was destroyed by fire in 1903.
“They rebuilt with an even larger elevator, warehouse and office. In 1912, they added a lumber department and an improved building.”
I have their 1915 bill head, it reads, “Dealer in Lumber, Sewer Pipe, Lime and Everything in the Building Line. Grain, Mill Feed, Flour, Hard and Soft Coal.”
The June 26, 1915 board of directors meeting reported a net profit for the month of $119.31 for the Elevator Department and $21.41, for the Lumber Department, also a donation to the new Lund-Mulden Shoe Factory of $100, and the elevator manager said Albert Long wanted more wages. A motion made to increase Long’s pay $1 a week.
I have the minutes of the Aug. 23, 1930 meeting. Those minutes show they agreed to discontinue the lumber business, selling the business to Arthur Gruenenfelder, and it became Gruenenfelder Lumber Co. at the same location. Arthur was a good businessman, he started building homes and built several on Main Street, including his own, which much later became the hospital parking lot at the southeast corner of Main and Poplar.
“Arthur Gruenenfelder retired in 1954, selling his business to McCarthy Construction Co. of St. Louis, and they continued to use the Gruenenfelder name.
“All was running very smoothly. The FMBA company was making money.”
Steve Goestenkors, formerly with Pierron Elevator, was the manager at FMBA. (Steve’s wife, Mammie, was one of our babysitters, and Steve was on my Harris Funeral Home bowling team at the VFW Lanes. They lived in the 700 block of 8th Street, and Steve would come along with Mammie to walk her home, but in reality, it was to play with our boys.)
“On July 10, 1957, at 5:15 a.m., the fire alarm went off. The FMBA Elevator was a blaze.”
(We were living at 806 8th St., just a block away from the big fire. I took Lorna and our three young sons to the home of Lorna’s parents, Arthur and Myrtle Ritt. I picked up her dad and his garden hose and headed home. We had the two hoses in readiness in case the wind changed direction and got too close for comfort.)
“The disastrous fire totally destroyed the FMBA main elevator building, new warehouse and most of the lumber buildings of Gruenenfelder Lumber Co.
“Gruenenfelder Lumber closed and FMBA. was sold on Oct. 14, 1957 to Oberbeck Feed Co. of Highland. This following information, will be my next column.
(Quotes from Centennial History of Madison County of 1912, Highland’s sesquicentennial book of 1987 and my files.)