Is The New York Stock Exchange Open On Labor Day The Story of the Menominee River Sugar Company 1903-1955

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The Story of the Menominee River Sugar Company 1903-1955

Menominee, Michigan, located a long way from the arena’s monetary facilities 100 years in the past, a lot as it’s as of late, nonetheless positioned itself without delay in the midst of one in all the most up to date trade booms of the early 20th century – sugar. The small neighborhood that dared to plant a footprint in global trade occupies a slivered level of land that dips into Lake Michigan at some extent so shut in proximity to Wisconsin that had a cartographer’s finger twitched at a an important second, Menominee can be in Wisconsin as a substitute of Michigan.

Menominee is bordered at the east through Green Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan, and at the south-west through the Menominee River. In 1903, many buyers within the beet sugar trade had a bushes background and had thus come to imagine that the similar rivers that had as soon as delivered logs to sawmills in abundance may just additionally serve the desires of a beet sugar manufacturing facility the place large volumes of water are used for fluming beets into the manufacturing facility, washing them after which diffusing the sugar from them. A sugar manufacturing facility may just simply put 3 million gallons of water to make use of each twenty-four hours. Barges can raise sugarbeets from the farm fields and freighters can raise merchandise to marketplace. The presence of the Menominee River satisfied buyers that Menominee may just compete with the country’s sugar manufacturers regardless of detrimental feedback from naysayers who stated Menominee was once too a long way north to effectively develop sugarbeets.

The naysayers had some extent. Menominee, Michigan is an not likely position to build a beet sugar manufacturing facility. Situated on the western finish of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the rising season is set 40 days shorter than the top beet rising areas within the state’s Lower Peninsula. The quick season can save you the ripening of beets which can then reduce sugar content material of immature beets sick ready for the tension of the milling procedure. Severe frosts in early spring aren’t abnormal and are virtually at all times deadly to a crop of younger beets. Frosts can come early within the fall, too, which may make it unimaginable to reap a crop. A farmer stood to lose his whole crop both early within the rising season or close to the time of harvest after he had invested closely in bringing the sugarbeet crop to time period. Investors, then again, in Menominee, as in lots of Michigan’s towns, tended to bargain enter from farmers sooner than development a manufacturing facility and would incessantly interpret exaggerated enthusiasm from a handful of growers as representing the wider farming neighborhood. Quite regularly, as in Menominee’s case, as it might prove, the handful didn’t constitute the entire.

Official popularity through the United States Department of Agriculture in 1898 of the significance of the sugarbeet trade sparked the development of beet sugar factories around the country. One 12 months previous the country may just boast simplest ten beet sugar factories, 4 of which have been in California, one in Utah, two in Nebraska and 3 in New York. The building of 7 sugarbeet factories in 1898 introduced into focal point for the primary time the stirrings of a hurry now not in contrast to the dot-com growth that blossomed just about 100 years later. The concept that sugar made from sugarbeets may just compete with sugar made from sugarcane expanded right into a full-fledged growth through 1900 when the national rely of sugarbeet factories stood at thirty-two in 11 states.

Nowhere was once the blaze warmer than in Michigan the place 9 factories adopted the a hit get started up of a manufacturing facility in Essexville, Michigan, a suburb of Bay City. A burst of cyclonic enthusiasm led to a mad scramble when buyers, constructors, bankers, and farmers blended energies and abilities to convey to lifestyles 8 factories in one 12 months! They have been in Holland, Kalamazoo, Rochester, Benton Harbor, Alma, West Bay City, Caro, and a 2d manufacturing facility in Essexville. Despite the paucity of manufacturing facility constructors and the engineers to function them, fourteen further factories rose at the outskirts of Michigan cities all the way through the following six years, one in all which gave the impression in Menominee in 1903.

In Menominee, a gaggle of buyers undeterred through the herbal disadvantages and buoyed through encouragement from influential buyers and an expert professionals, set a plan in movement to care for the commercial viability in their town after the impending death of the lumber trade, which had till then supplied the underpinnings of Menominee’s financial system. The plan incorporated the design of probably the most greatest and most present sugarbeet factories to look in America as much as that point.

As the lumber technology petered out initially of the twentieth century, railroads that had come into their very own as a result of bushes, sought new resources of income. Principal amongst them was once the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad whose land agent, Charles M. Garrison, accrued and dispensed details about the potential for the sugarbeet trade. While Garrison unfold phrase amongst Detroit’s financiers about potential income in sugarbeets, communities suffering from the decline of lumber seemed to space sources for tactics of replenishing wealth. They had masses to paintings with. The state was once crisscrossed with rail strains and rivers and a few left over money from the lumber technology. With Garrison main the best way, buyers perked up. Communities desperate to discover a fast alternative for lumber hastened to wait conferences backed through Garrison and sooner but to convey their cities into the fold. All that was once wanted was once to steer the farmers to develop the beets. That is the place the Michigan Agricultural College (Now Michigan State University) stepped in.

Upper Peninsula farmers, inspired through Michigan Agricultural College to plant sugarbeet take a look at plots, gained an excellent larger shot within the arm through the consult with of Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson, in 1902. He expounded some great benefits of sugarbeets and discouraged the perception that the Upper Peninsula’s local weather wasn’t as much as the duty of manufacturing successful vegetation. Wilson served in 3 presidential cupboards, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, serving longer (1897-1913) than another cupboard legit. He inspired fashionable agriculture strategies, together with transportation and training as they implemented to agriculture. His phrase carried numerous weight. When he spoke of sugarbeets, some farmers listened and when his division avowed that the chilly northern temperatures would now not inhibit the improvement of the trade of their community, buyers, farmers, and producers coated as much as start the trade in Menominee.

Optimism rose to new heights when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced favorable result of the sugarbeet plot checks. The Sugar Beet News of December 15, 1903, reported take a look at effects from beets delivered through roughly 140 farmers. The take a look at runs printed 15.6 to 19.9 % sugar, which intended a money price to the farmers in step with acre of from $5.70 to $7.13 in step with ton ($135-$169 inflation adjusted to the present length). At the ones projected costs, no crop in human historical past had held the opportunity of growing this type of prime go back from so few acres.

In the Lower Peninsula, a farmer with above reasonable skill who positioned fifteen acres in sugarbeets may just earn greater than $800 and if his circle of relatives supplied the majority of the hard work, the online benefit would greater than handle a circle of relatives’s wishes for a 12 months, which, together with meals, was once not up to $800. After including income from vegetation in rotation and revenues from milk, eggs, and poultry, the farm circle of relatives’s way of life complex from a subsistence stage to at least one that when put next favorably to people who held mid-management positions in trade. USDA figures supported trust that Upper Peninsula beets would exceed through two in step with cent the typical for the entire different 18 sugar beet factories within the Lower Peninsula.

If the checks proved dependable signs, Menominee area beets have been price as much as $10 extra an acre than Lower Peninsula beets, assuring an source of revenue of just about $1,000 in step with 12 months simply from sugarbeets.

Although enthusiasm was once at the upturn, one thing extra was once had to seal the deal. To instill self belief in potential buyers that technical experience lay close to handy, Benjamin Boutell, who received repute as each a tugboat captain and as a captain of trade, arrived in Menominee from his Bay City, Michigan headquarters for the only function of conveying buyers to Bay County the place they may see groomed beet fields and environment friendly factories spinning out white crystalline sugar. Eleven potential buyers accompanied Boutell to Bay City the place convincing proof lay handy. Four beet sugar factories, greater than in another town within the United States, have been built in that town’s environs. Bay City nearly hummed with financial process as a result of the presence of sugar factories. Mansions peopled through former lumber barons who had remodeled themselves into sugar barons, coated town’s prestigious Center Avenue.

Boutell introduced he would turn out to be probably the most buyers, offering the opposite buyers had no objection to having a manufacturing facility designed and put in through Joseph Kilby who was once in keeping with Boutell, the best constructor of beet sugar factories within the United States. Many others agreed with Boutell’s evaluate; Kilby constructed 9 of the eventual twenty-four factories inbuilt Michigan. Local buyers coated up in the back of Boutell to prepare the Menominee River Sugar Company. A half of dozen vital backers got here ahead, each and every of whom subscribed to greater than $25,000 in inventory of the Menominee River Sugar Company.

Heading up the listing of native shareholders was once Samuel M. Stephenson, a former lumber producer and local 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 profession in lumber and banking, he served 3 successive phrases in Congress (Michigan’s eleventh District 1889-93 and the twelfth District 1893-97). He invested $100,000 ($2 million through fashionable requirements) within the beet sugar manufacturing facility, taking middle in now not simplest favorable take a look at plot effects and the keenness of his neighbors but additionally passion proven through the American Sugar Refining Corporation, normally identified through its then fashionable sobriquet, the Sugar Trust. Some years later the Sugar Trust would fall into disfavor because of fees of unfair trade practices, however in 1903, it had the arrogance of most of the people and buyers alike and regulated the manufacture and sale of 98% of sugar ate up within the United States. Trust Executives, Arthur Donner and Charles R. Heike, invested $300,000 to obtain 36% of Menominee River Sugar Company’s inventory.

All the participants of the board of administrators and roster of officials with the exception of Bay City resident, Benjamin Boutell, indexed Menominee as their house of document. Menominee citizens made up 74% of the shareholders. Together, they managed 53% of the stocks. In addition to Stephenson, different primary shareholders who additionally approved positions as both officials or administrators have been: William O. Carpenter who invested $55,000 and served the sugar corporate 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 second one greatest investor after Stephenson and the Sugar Trust. He, too, served as a director.

Spies supply a very good instance of the hardy pioneering spirit that prevailed in Menominee. He was once a local of the grand duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany the place fertile soils and a gentle local weather allowed the manufacturing of grain and wine. He participated within the founding of the Stephenson National Bank in partnership with long run U.S. Congressman Samuel M. Stephenson and Samuel’s brother, long run U.S. Senator, Isaac Stephenson. In addition, he owned the Spies Lumber Company and a number of other huge tracts of wooded area; he was once an investor within the First National Bank of Menominee, the Marinette and Menominee Paper Company and president of the Menominee Light, Railroad and Power Company. When the fledgling sugar corporate were given below method, he stepped ahead with $75,000 ($1.5 million in present greenbacks).

Support from Menominee’s rich elegance, who additionally shared distinctions of constructing excellent trade choices and emerging on their very own advantage relatively than inherited wealth, was once so nice that there was once no want to solicit budget from the general public at huge. With its stocks over-subscribed through $35,000, the Menominee River Sugar Company was once within the enviable place of getting ok capital for its challenge. Not simplest was once it possessed of enough capital but additionally it loved the additional benefit of the revel in of Benjamin Boutell and representatives of the Sugar Trust. Menominee would now not need for technical or trade experience.

Gustave Blesch, like Augustus Spies, owed his luck to the inherited qualities of onerous paintings, honesty and the dignity of his friends. He would turn out to be the sugar corporate’s first treasurer. He was once born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1859, the son of Francis Blesch, a local of Germany and Antoinette Schneider, a local of Belgium. Gustave turned into an workplace boy within the Kellogg National Bank of Green Bay, emerging to teller through the age of twenty. Five years later, he moved to Menominee to lend a hand determine the First National Bank of Menominee the place he started as cashier sooner than changing into the financial institution’s president. He turned into president of the Menominee Brick Company, vice-president of the Menominee-Marinette Light & Traction Company, and treasurer of the Peninsula Land Company.

In January, 1903, the newly elected board of administrators authorized an $800,000 (just about $19 million in present technology greenbacks) building contract for a Kilby designed and constructed manufacturing facility that will slice 1,000 lots of beets in step with day. Of the 48 beet sugar factories in operation within the United States in 1903, simplest two have been better than Menominee’s new manufacturing facility, one in Salinas, California and some other in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The reasonable sugar manufacturing facility in Michigan in 1903 may just slice 600 lots of beets in a twenty-four hour length. Four thousand acres of beets would simply provide a season’s manufacturing facility run. Had the buyers surveyed the farmers first, indubitably they might were urged to construct a smaller manufacturing facility, and in all probability would were persuaded to construct none. Farmers delivered beets from roughly 1,500 acres, smartly wanting the 9,000 acres the funding demanded.

The Menominee manufacturing facility’s first manufacturing facility run (known as a “campaign” within the sugar trade) ended briefly, having gained simplest 14,263 lots, sufficient for a manufacturing run of fourteen days for a manufacturing facility the buyers deliberate to function a minimum of 100 days. However, the farmers had submitted beets containing the best possible sugar reported of any corporate all the way through its first marketing campaign, 15.04 p.c – about 20 p.c greater than reasonable and sufficient to permit for a small take advantage of a meager beet provide. Like just about the entire factories, information that will tell us of benefit, if any, earned all the way through that first marketing campaign, didn’t continue to exist the passage of time. However, it might be cheap to estimate, in keeping with the identified value of provides of coal, coke, limestone and the price of hard work, {that a} benefit of $36,000 was once achievable, particularly below a leadership taste that paid shut consideration to expenditures and particularly in gentle of the very prime share of sugar within the beets.

The 2d marketing campaign was once higher with sufficient beets for a complete month, nonetheless smartly wanting a provide had to earn a living sufficient to justify the funding. By 1911, the native provide reached a degree that allowed secure income however was once inadequate to inspire growth, a situation that persevered till 1926 when grower apathy fell to a degree that required final the manufacturing facility till 1933 when it reopened for a last run of 20 years all the way through which the manufacturing facility lagged in the back of the trade in era and enlargement. Year in and 12 months out, as a result of an insufficient provide of beets, most commonly grown in Wisconsin, the underutilized manufacturing facility ended its marketing campaign weeks previous than was once had to produce wholesome income which then can have been reinvested within the manufacturing facility. Menominee buyers realized, as did many different sugar manufacturing facility buyers, that the chant, “build it and they will come” fell on deaf ears amongst farmers who regularly displayed a greater working out of sugar economics than did buyers.

The passage of time introduced neither hurt nor excellent to the Menominee manufacturing facility because it was once not able to make bigger or modernize. It settled into the method of sleek getting old. Profits anticipating alternative steadily gathered due to the corporate’s penurious leadership taste and a devoted cadre of farmers.

George W. McCormick, the corporate’s first supervisor, inaugurated a cautious leadership taste that went some distance towards retaining the corporate successful regardless of annual shortfalls within the beet provide. He controlled the corporate all the way through its first thirty-two years of operation, starting when he was once twenty-four years of age. He met Benjamin Boutell in Bay City when he moved there to take a role as a district supervisor for Travelers Insurance Company. Boutell concept the younger guy belonged within the swiftly creating sugar trade and inspired him to lend a hand within the established order of a sugar manufacturing facility in Wallaceburg, Ontario. After finishing the task with luck, Boutell really helpful him for the executive’s process in Menominee.

Menominee was once essentially the most tricky position within the United States to procedure sugarbeets. The low temperatures took a heavy toll on staff, equipment and beets that normally went in the course of the cutting machines like boulders, harmful apparatus that robbed the manufacturing facility of narrow sources. It was once tricky to search out alternative portions as a result of the gap keeping apart Menominee from providers and from Lower Peninsula sugar factories the place it was once not unusual for manufacturing facility managers to lend spare portions to each other.

The corporate’s diligent consideration to price keep an eye on paid off in 1924 when sugar factories situated in Green Bay and Menominee Falls, Wisconsin went in the marketplace. Menominee River Sugar Company bought each after which invested vital sums in restoring the Menominee Falls manufacturing facility that have been close for 3 years in an instant previous its sale.

The renovated Menominee Falls manufacturing facility blended with the Green Bay and Menominee, Michigan factories created extra capability than was once wanted for the to be had acreage. One of the factories must shut. Menominee received the noose after the accountants counted up the freight prices for hauling beets to each and every manufacturing facility. The Menominee manufacturing facility remained closed till 1933 when Michigan’s farmers relented and agreed to go back to sugarbeets, a choice that got here too past due to avoid wasting the hides of the sugar corporate’s homeowners who had misplaced the corporate to defaulted bonds 3 years previous.

Disruptions in Europe starting within the early a part of the Thirties introduced a brand new identify to Michigan’s beet sugar fields and company workplaces – Flegenheimer. Albert Flegenheimer was once the son of Samuel Flegenheimer who had immigrated to the United States in both 1864 or 1866 and turned into a naturalized citizen in 1873. The subsequent 12 months, then again, he returned to Germany, settling in Wurttemberg. He lived out his lifestyles there, loss of life in 1929 on the age of 81. His transient sojourn within the United States and his U.S. citizenship standing, then again, would sooner or later save his descendants from German loss of life camps.

In February 1939, Albert Flegenheimer carried his circle of relatives to the protection of Canada after which to the U.S. claiming nationality because the son of a naturalized citizen. He deliberate to lift his circle of relatives and dedicate his time to the sugar trade in each the United States and Canada. His plans met with really extensive luck and through 1954, he managed the sugar manufacturing facility in Menominee and the only in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Despite Albert Flegenheimer’s efforts, a loss of passion at the a part of farmers saved the manufacturing facility small and old-fashioned. It struggled 12 months through 12 months till in any case in 1955 with its apparatus exhausted, its structures in tattered restore and its farmers pursuing different vegetation, Menominee River Sugar Company, constructed on hopes and desires and operated with fortitude and patience for greater than a half-century, closed its doorways ceaselessly.


GUTLEBEN, Dan, The Sugar Tramp-1954- Michigan, Printed through: Bay City Duplicating Co, San Francisco, 1954

1962 TWIN CITY COMMUNITY RESOURCES WORKSHOP, phase entitled Famous Leaders Who Helped Build Menominee, ready through Irene Swain, Dr. Leo J. Alilunas, Director.

HENLEY, ROBERT L., Sweet Success . . .The Story of Michigan’s Beet Sugar Industry 1898 – 1974, Michigan Historical Center, Department of History, Arts and Libraries

INFLATION ADJUSTMENTS: The pre-1975 knowledge are the Consumer Price Index statistics from Historical Statistics of the United States (USGPO, 1975). All knowledge since then are from the yearly Statistical Abstracts of the United States. Recorded at

MICHIGAN ANNUAL REPORTS, Michigan Archives, Lansing, Michigan
&reproduction;2009 Thomas Mahar

About the Author:
Thomas Mahar served as Executive Vice President of Monitor Sugar Company between 1984 and 1999 and as President of Gala Food Processing, a sugar packaging corporate, from 1993-1998. He retired in 1999 and now devotes his unfastened time to writing in regards to the historical past of the sugar trade. He authored, Sweet Energy, The Story of Monitor Sugar Company in 2001.

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