Posted on Monday, 13th January 2014 by admin
Menominee, Michigan, located a ways from the world’s monetary facilities a hundred years in the past, a lot as it is nowadays, nonetheless positioned itself instantly in the center of one of the most up to date industry booms of the early twentieth century – sugar. The small group that dared to plant a footprint in world commerce occupies a slivered level of land that dips into Lake Michigan at a level so shut in proximity to Wisconsin that had a cartographer’s finger twitched at a a very powerful second, Menominee would be in Wisconsin as a substitute of Michigan.
Menominee is bordered on the east through Inexperienced Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan, and on the south-west with the aid of the Menominee River. In 1903, many traders in the beet sugar trade had a bushes history and had to that end come to imagine that the comparable rivers that had as soon as delivered logs to sawmills in abundance might additionally serve the desires of a beet sugar manufacturing facility the place huge volumes of water are used for fluming beets into the manufacturing facility, washing them and then diffusing the sugar from them. A sugar manufacturing unit might simply put three million gallons of water to use each twenty-4 hours. Barges can elevate sugarbeets from the farm fields and freighters can lift merchandise to market. The presence of the Menominee River definite buyers that Menominee might compete with the nation’s sugar producers regardless of bad feedback from naysayers who stated Menominee used to be too a long way north to efficiently develop sugarbeets.
The naysayers had a level. Menominee, Michigan is an not likely situation to assemble a beet sugar manufacturing unit. Located at the western finish of Michigan’s Higher Peninsula, the rising season is about forty days shorter than the top beet rising areas in the state’s Decrease Peninsula. The brief season can forestall the ripening of beets which will then reduce sugar content material of immature beets in poor health ready for the stress of the milling course of. Extreme frosts in early spring are no longer atypical and are virtually at all times deadly to a crop of younger beets. Frosts can come early in the fall, too, which can make it not possible to harvest a crop. A farmer stood to lose his whole crop both early in the rising season or close to the time of harvest after he had invested closely in bringing the sugarbeet crop to time period. Traders, on the other hand, in Menominee, as in many of Michigan’s cities, tended to bargain enter from farmers ahead of constructing a manufacturing facility and would steadily interpret exaggerated enthusiasm from a handful of growers as representing the broader farming group. Relatively incessantly, as in Menominee’s case, as it would flip out, the handful did now not signify the complete.
Authentic attractiveness through the United States Division of Agriculture in 1898 of the significance of the sugarbeet business sparked the development of beet sugar factories throughout the nation. One 12 months prior the nation might boast simplest ten beet sugar factories, 4 of which have been in California, one in Utah, two in Nebraska and three in New York. The development of seven sugarbeet factories in 1898 introduced into focal point for the first time the stirrings of a rush now not in contrast to the dot-com increase that blossomed just about one hundred years later. The concept that sugar produced from sugarbeets may compete with sugar produced from sugarcane accelerated into a full-fledged growth by means of 1900 when the nationwide depend of sugarbeet factories stood at thirty-two in eleven states.
Nowhere used to be the blaze hotter than in Michigan the place 9 factories adopted the a success begin up of a manufacturing unit in Essexville, Michigan, a suburb of Bay Metropolis. A burst of cyclonic enthusiasm brought about a mad scramble when buyers, constructors, bankers, and farmers blended energies and abilities to convey to lifestyles eight factories in a single 12 months! They have been in Holland, Kalamazoo, Rochester, Benton Harbor, Alma, West Bay Metropolis, Caro, and a 2nd manufacturing facility in Essexville. Regardless of the paucity of manufacturing facility constructors and the engineers to function them, fourteen extra factories rose on the outskirts of Michigan cities all the way through the subsequent six years, one of which seemed in Menominee in 1903.
In Menominee, a team of buyers undeterred by using the pure risks and buoyed via encouragement from influential buyers and a professional consultants, set a plan in movement to care for the financial viability of their metropolis after the drawing near dying of the lumber business, which had except then supplied the underpinnings of Menominee’s financial system. The plan incorporated the design of one of the biggest and most up to date sugarbeet factories to seem in The usa up to that time.
As the lumber generation petered out at the starting of the twentieth century, railroads that had come into their personal as a result of of trees, sought new sources of income. Main amongst them used to be the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad whose land agent, Charles M. Garrison, gathered and disbursed data about the doable of the sugarbeet trade. Whereas Garrison unfold phrase amongst Detroit’s financiers about potential earnings in sugarbeets, communities affected with the aid of the decline of lumber regarded to house instruments for methods of replenishing wealth. They had lots to work with. The state was once crisscrossed with rail strains and rivers and some left over money from the lumber technology. With Garrison major the method, traders perked up. Communities keen to in finding a fast substitute for lumber hastened to attend conferences subsidized by using Garrison and faster but to deliver their cities into the fold. All that used to be wanted used to be to persuade the farmers to develop the beets. That is the place the Michigan Agricultural School (Now Michigan State College) stepped in.
Higher Peninsula farmers, inspired via Michigan Agricultural Faculty to plant sugarbeet check plots, got an even higher shot in the arm by using the consult with of Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson, in 1902. He expounded the advantages of sugarbeets and discouraged the perception that the Higher Peninsula’s local weather wasn’t up to the activity of producing winning plants. Wilson served in three presidential cupboards, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, serving longer (1897-1913) than any different cupboard professional. He inspired brand new agriculture strategies, together with transportation and schooling as they utilized to agriculture. His phrase carried a lot of weight. When he spoke of sugarbeets, some farmers listened and when his division avowed that the chilly northern temperatures would now not inhibit the building of the trade in their local, buyers, farmers, and producers lined up to start the business in Menominee.
Optimism rose to new heights when the United States Division of Agriculture (USDA) introduced favorable outcomes of the sugarbeet plot exams. The Sugar Beet Information of December 15, 1903, mentioned check outcomes from beets delivered by means of roughly one hundred forty farmers. The check runs published 15.6 to 19.9 % sugar, which supposed a money worth to the farmers per acre of from $5.70 to $7.thirteen per ton ($one hundred thirty five-$169 inflation adjusted to the present duration). At these projected costs, no crop in human historical past had held the doable for growing such a excessive return from so few acres.
In the Decrease Peninsula, a farmer with above moderate means who positioned fifteen acres in sugarbeets might earn extra than $800 and if his domestic equipped the bulk of the labor, the internet revenue would extra than take care of a domestic’s desires for a yr, which, together with meals, was once much less than $800. After including earnings from vegetation in rotation and revenues from milk, eggs, and chook, the farm domestic’s usual of dwelling developed from a subsistence degree to one that in comparison favorably to these who held mid-administration positions in trade. USDA figures supported perception that Higher Peninsula beets would exceed by way of two per cent the moderate for all the different 18 sugar beet factories in the Decrease Peninsula.
If the assessments proved dependable indications, Menominee area beets have been value up to $10 extra an acre than Decrease Peninsula beets, assuring an earnings of virtually $1,000 per 12 months simply from sugarbeets.
Despite the fact that enthusiasm used to be on the upturn, one thing extra used to be wanted to seal the deal. To instill self belief in potential buyers that technical experience lay close to at hand, Benjamin Boutell, who gained status as each a tugboat captain and as a captain of business, arrived in Menominee from his Bay Metropolis, Michigan headquarters for the single goal of conveying traders to Bay County the place they might see groomed beet fields and environment friendly factories spinning out white crystalline sugar. Eleven potential traders accompanied Boutell to Bay Metropolis the place convincing proof lay at hand. 4 beet sugar factories, extra than in any different metropolis in the United States, had been built in that metropolis’s environs. Bay Metropolis just about hummed with financial job as a result of of the presence of sugar factories. Mansions peopled through former lumber barons who had reworked themselves into sugar barons, lined the metropolis’s prestigious Heart Avenue.
Boutell introduced he would transform one of the buyers, offering the different buyers had no objection to having a manufacturing unit designed and put in by means of Joseph Kilby who used to be in accordance to Boutell, the most interesting constructor of beet sugar factories in the United States. Many others agreed with Boutell’s evaluation; Kilby constructed 9 of the eventual twenty-4 factories constructed in Michigan. Native traders lined up in the back of Boutell to prepare the Menominee River Sugar Firm. A 1/2 dozen essential backers got here ahead, each and every of whom subscribed to extra than $25,000 in inventory of the Menominee River Sugar Firm.
Heading up the listing of native shareholders was once Samuel M. Stephenson, a former lumber producer and native of New Brunswick, Canada who had made a house for himself, his spouse, Jennie and their 4 daughters and one son, in Menominee. He was once then seventy-one years of age however in no temper for retirement. Following a a hit occupation in lumber and banking, he served three successive phrases in Congress (Michigan’s eleventh District 1889-ninety three and the twelfth District 1893-ninety seven). He invested $one hundred,000 ($2 million with the aid of brand new requirements) in the beet sugar manufacturing facility, taking coronary heart in no longer handiest favorable take a look at plot outcomes and the enthusiasm of his neighbors however additionally pastime proven by using the American Sugar Refining Company, most often recognized with the aid of its then fashionable sobriquet, the Sugar Belief. Some years later the Sugar Belief would fall into disfavor as a outcome of costs of unfair industry practices, however in 1903, it had the self assurance of the common public and traders alike and managed the manufacture and sale of ninety eight% of sugar consumed in the United States. Belief Executives, Arthur Donner and Charles R. Heike, invested $300,000 to collect 36% of Menominee River Sugar Firm’s inventory.
All the individuals of the board of administrators and roster of officers aside from Bay Metropolis resident, Benjamin Boutell, listed Menominee as their dwelling of report. Menominee residents made up seventy four% of the shareholders. Collectively, they managed fifty three% of the shares. In addition to Stephenson, different main shareholders who additionally common positions as both officers or administrators have been: William O. Wood worker who invested $fifty five,000 and served the sugar firm variously as president and vice-president. Gustave A. Blesch invested $15,000 and served as treasurer. John Henes, a brewery proprietor, invested $25,000 and served as a director. Augustus Spies was once the 2nd greatest investor after Stephenson and the Sugar Belief. He, too, served as a director.
Spies present an superb instance of the hardy pioneering spirit that prevailed in Menominee. He used to be a native of the grand duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany the place fertile soils and a delicate local weather allowed the manufacturing of grain and wine. He participated in the founding of the Stephenson Nationwide Financial institution in partnership with future U.S. Congressman Samuel M. Stephenson and Samuel’s brother, future U.S. Senator, Isaac Stephenson. In addition, he owned the Spies Lumber Firm and a couple of massive tracts of wooded area; he used to be an investor in the First Nationwide Financial institution of Menominee, the Marinette and Menominee Paper Firm and president of the Menominee Mild, Railroad and Energy Firm. When the fledgling sugar firm acquired below manner, he stepped ahead with $seventy five,000 ($1.5 million in present greenbacks).
Improve from Menominee’s rich classification, who additionally shared distinctions of making excellent industry choices and rising on their personal advantage relatively than inherited wealth, used to be so nice that there used to be no want to solicit cash from the public at massive. With its shares over-subscribed by way of $35,000, the Menominee River Sugar Firm was once in the enviable place of having enough capital for its undertaking. Now not simplest was once it possessed of adequate capital however additionally it loved the introduced advantage of the expertise of Benjamin Boutell and representatives of the Sugar Belief. Menominee would now not need for technical or trade experience.
Gustave Blesch, like Augustus Spies, owed his success to the inherited features of laborious work, honesty and the recognize of his friends. He would turn out to be the sugar firm’s first treasurer. He used to be born in Inexperienced Bay, Wisconsin in 1859, the son of Francis Blesch, a native of Germany and Antoinette Schneider, a native of Belgium. Gustave changed into an place of work boy in the Kellogg Nationwide Financial institution of Inexperienced Bay, rising to teller via the age of twenty. 5 years later, he moved to Menominee to assist set up the First Nationwide Financial institution of Menominee the place he started out as cashier ahead of turning into the financial institution’s president. He was president of the Menominee Brick Firm, vice-president of the Menominee-Marinette Gentle & Traction Firm, and treasurer of the Peninsula Land Firm.
In January, 1903, the newly elected board of administrators authorized an $800,000 (virtually $19 million in present generation bucks) building contract for a Kilby designed and constructed manufacturing facility that would slice 1,000 lots of beets per day. Of the forty eight beet sugar factories in operation in the United States in 1903, simplest two have been better than Menominee’s new manufacturing unit, one in Salinas, California and any other in Citadel Collins, Colorado.
The moderate sugar manufacturing unit in Michigan in 1903 might slice six hundred lots of beets in a twenty-4 hour length. 4 thousand acres of beets would simply provide a season’s manufacturing facility run. Had the traders surveyed the farmers first, unquestionably they would have been prompt to construct a smaller manufacturing unit, and possibly would have been persuaded to construct none. Farmers delivered beets from roughly 1,500 acres, smartly quick of the 9,000 acres the funding demanded.
The Menominee manufacturing unit’s first manufacturing facility run (referred to as a “marketing campaign” in the sugar business) ended fast, having obtained best 14,263 heaps, sufficient for a manufacturing run of fourteen days for a manufacturing unit the buyers deliberate to function at least one hundred days. Alternatively, the farmers had submitted beets containing the best possible sugar mentioned of any firm all the way through its first marketing campaign, 15.04 p.c – about 20 p.c extra than reasonable and sufficient to enable for a small revenue from a meager beet provide. Like just about all the factories, data that would inform us of revenue, if any, earned all over that first marketing campaign, did now not live on the passage of time. On the other hand, it would be affordable to estimate, primarily based on the identified value of provides of coal, coke, limestone and the value of labor, that a revenue of $36,000 was once doable, particularly beneath a administration type that paid shut consideration to costs and particularly in mild of the very excessive proportion of sugar in the beets.
The 2d marketing campaign was once higher with sufficient beets for a full month, nonetheless neatly quick of a provide wanted to generate earnings sufficient to justify the funding. With the aid of 1911, the native provide reached a degree that allowed consistent income however used to be inadequate to motivate enlargement, a situation that persevered unless 1926 when grower apathy fell to a degree that required closing the manufacturing unit except 1933 when it reopened for a closing run of twenty years throughout which the manufacturing facility lagged at the back of the trade in expertise and increase. Yr in and yr out, as a result of of an insufficient provide of beets, principally grown in Wisconsin, the underutilized manufacturing facility ended its marketing campaign weeks prior than was once wanted to produce wholesome income which then might have been reinvested in the manufacturing facility. Menominee buyers discovered, as did many different sugar manufacturing facility buyers, that the mantra, “construct it and they will come” fell on deaf ears amongst farmers who regularly displayed a higher working out of sugar economics than did buyers.
The passage of time introduced neither hurt nor excellent to the Menominee manufacturing facility as it used to be unable to extend or modernize. It settled into the course of of swish growing old. Earnings anticipating possibility step by step collected thanks to the firm’s penurious administration model and a devoted cadre of farmers.
George W. McCormick, the firm’s first supervisor, inaugurated a cautious administration model that went a lengthy approach towards maintaining the firm successful regardless of annual shortfalls in the beet provide. He managed the firm all over its first thirty-two years of operation, starting when he used to be twenty-4 years of age. He met Benjamin Boutell in Bay Metropolis when he moved there to take a job as a district supervisor for Vacationers Insurance coverage Firm. Boutell concept the younger man belonged in the swiftly creating sugar business and inspired him to lend a hand in the institution of a sugar manufacturing facility in Wallaceburg, Ontario. After finishing the undertaking with success, Boutell advisable him for the supervisor’s job in Menominee.
Menominee used to be the most troublesome location in the United States to course of sugarbeets. The low temperatures took a heavy toll on employees, equipment and beets that on a regular basis went thru the reducing machines like boulders, harmful tools that robbed the manufacturing unit of narrow tools. It was once troublesome to in finding substitute components as a result of of the distance keeping apart Menominee from suppliers and from Decrease Peninsula sugar factories the place it was once standard for manufacturing unit managers to lend spare components to one some other.
The firm’s diligent consideration to value keep an eye on paid off in 1924 when sugar factories positioned in Inexperienced Bay and Menominee Falls, Wisconsin went on the market. Menominee River Sugar Firm bought each and then invested vital sums in restoring the Menominee Falls manufacturing facility that had been shut for three years instantly previous its sale.
The renovated Menominee Falls manufacturing unit mixed with the Inexperienced Bay and Menominee, Michigan factories created extra capability than was once wanted for the to be had acreage. One of the factories would have to shut. Menominee gained the noose after the accountants counted up the freight prices for hauling beets to each and every manufacturing unit. The Menominee manufacturing facility remained closed unless 1933 when Michigan’s farmers relented and agreed to return to sugarbeets, a determination that got here too late to store the hides of the sugar firm’s homeowners who had misplaced the firm to defaulted bonds three years past.
Disruptions in Europe starting in the early phase of the Thirties introduced a new identify to Michigan’s beet sugar fields and company workplaces – Flegenheimer. Albert Flegenheimer used to be the son of Samuel Flegenheimer who had immigrated to the United States in both 1864 or 1866 and was a naturalized citizen in 1873. The subsequent 12 months, on the other hand, he lower back to Germany, settling in Wurttemberg. He lived out his existence there, demise in 1929 at the age of eighty one. His transient sojourn in the United States and his U.S. citizenship standing, on the other hand, would one day retailer his descendants from German dying camps.
In February 1939, Albert Flegenheimer carried his household to the security of Canada and then to the U.S. claiming nationality as the son of a naturalized citizen. He deliberate to carry his household and dedicate his time to the sugar business in each the United States and Canada. His plans met with really extensive success and by using 1954, he managed the sugar manufacturing facility in Menominee and the one in Inexperienced Bay, Wisconsin.
Regardless of Albert Flegenheimer’s efforts, a lack of pastime on the section of farmers saved the manufacturing facility small and out of date. It struggled 12 months by means of 12 months except eventually in 1955 with its gear exhausted, its structures in tattered restore and its farmers pursuing different vegetation, Menominee River Sugar Firm, constructed on hopes and goals and operated with fortitude and persistence for extra than a half of-century, closed its doorways perpetually.
GUTLEBEN, Dan, The Sugar Tramp-1954- Michigan, Printed via: Bay Metropolis Duplicating Co, San Francisco, 1954
1962 TWIN CITY COMMUNITY RESOURCES WORKSHOP, part entitled Well-known Leaders Who Helped Construct Menominee, ready by means of Irene Swain, Dr. Leo J. Alilunas, Director.
HENLEY, ROBERT L., Candy Success . . .The Story of Michigan’s Beet Sugar Business 1898 – 1974, Michigan Historic Middle, Division of Historical past, Arts and Libraries
INFLATION ADJUSTMENTS: The pre-1975 information are the Client Worth Index facts from Historic Records of the United States (USGPO, 1975). All information due to the fact that then are from the annual Statistical Abstracts of the United States. Recorded at http://www.westegg.com/inflation
MICHIGAN ANNUAL REPORTS, Michigan Archives, Lansing, Michigan
&reproduction;2009 Thomas Mahar
About the Writer:
Thomas Mahar served as Government Vice President of Screen Sugar Firm between 1984 and 1999 and as President of Gala Meals Processing, a sugar packaging firm, from 1993-1998. He retired in 1999 and now devotes his free time to writing about the historical past of the sugar trade. He authored, Candy Vitality, The Story of Screen Sugar Firm in 2001.