Grain Warehouses / Elevators

With the increasing number of productive farms in Bement came the need for facilities to store and market the grain after harvest. Efforts to get someone else to build one failed, so Lewis and Joseph Bodman "concluded we would put up the building” as Lewis noted in his letter to Luther. F. J. Carter, agent for the railroad, encouraged them to do it promptly, and within two weeks, the project was underway.

In 1856 Francis E. Bryant bought the warehouse that had been built for Joseph and Lewis Bodman. He opened the first grain elevator at the corner of West Bodman and South Macon streets. Because of the growing market for grain, operating an elevator was a lucrative business and soon other Bement residents joined Bryant.

From 1859-1866 Freese and Son operated an elevator on East Bodman and North Piatt streets. They also carried lumber.

Charles Fisher operated the Scott and Fisher Grain Elevator that was located at West Bodman and North Morgan streets from 1859-1860. Albert Gregory was co-owner with Fisher from 1860-1873. The elevator was then purchased by Piatt and Lodge who operated it from 1873-1887. In 1887 the Piatt and Lodge Grain Company elevator burned and the business did not reopen.

E. C. Bodman and George Milmine operated an elevator at Macon and Wilson Avenue with A. S. Burr was the manager. The business headquarters was moved to Toledo, Ohio in 1866, but the elevator continued in Bement.

J. M. Camp was a grain dealer from 1878-1884. He became the manager of Bryant’s grain, coal, salt, and lumber business in 1884. In 1897 he left Bryant to open his own grain elevator at the old Piatt and Lodge location. He was in business until 1908.

J. O. Sparks operated an elevator from 1860-1883 in Milmine. He also carried lumber materials. From1877-1896 J. C. McCord operated a grain and coal business at East Bodman and North Piatt Streets on the east side of Piatt Street. He also opened a lumber business on the west side of South Piatt Street. In 1896 C. A. Burks purchased the grain elevator from McCord and operated it until 1898. L. A. Moore and J . F. Sprague owned and operated the elevator until 1905 when L.C. Fleger replaced L. A. Moore as co-owner. Fledger partnered with Sprague until 1908 when Sprague purchased L. C. Felger’s interest in the business. Sprague was the sole owner until 1935 when he sold out to R.R. Siders who operated the elevator until 1939. Voorhies Co-operative Grain Company purchased it and operated I the elevator until 1947. Bement Grain Company then purchased the business in 1947 and consolidated the elevator into its business.

The Sprague brothers, E. B. and Maro, purchased the Francis E. Bryant business in 1897. William Loveless succeeded the Sprague brothers and also purchased the Haldeman Flour Mill in 1900.

In 1903 the Bement Grain Company was formed and became one of the first co-operative grain companies to be established in Illinois. Despite early trials, when farmers as well as others, regarded the co-operative movement with suspicion, the company survived and expanded. Under the new name of Topflight Grain Company, it has become the largest co-operative grain compar1y in Illinois. It purchased the Loveless properties in 1903, added the J. M. Camp elevator in 1908 and purchased the Voorhies Grain Company in1947.

From Bement Sesquicentennial book - used with permission

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