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Twice-A-Week News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa


The Mount Ayr Ringgold-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, August 4, 1927

Tennant & Anderson Buy Mill.

Mount Ayr Mill, early 1900's
Courtesy of Mount Ayr Depot Musuem

O. C. FRY, who has conducted the Mount Ayr mill for the past several months, sold his equipment and stock Saturday to G. A. TENNANT and J. M. ANDERSON, of Rice township, possession given Monday morning. The style of the new firm will be TENNANT & ANDERSON and the business will be continued at the old stand, one block north of the northwest corner of the square. Mr. ANDERSON will move to Mount Ayr the latter part of August and Mr. TENNANT expects to move to the city later in the fall.

Under the management of Mr. FRY the mill has done a thriving business and there is every reason to preduct that under the new management the mill will continue to be one of the successful service institutions of Mount Ayr. The members of the new firm are well known. Having been engaged in farming and stockraising for many years, they are thoroughly familiar with the needs of the farmers. It is the intention of the new firm to continue to do grinding for the trade, thus affording the farmers opportunity to supply their needs in this line a the lowest cost, and in addition they handle a full line of feeds.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2010

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, August 20, 1987

Mount Ayr Mill & Feed
Observes 60th-Year Milestone

August 1, 1987, the Mount Ayr Mill and Feed observed a milestone - 60 years in business in Mount Ayr in the original location and under the same family ownership.

Max ANDERSON became sole owner and operator of the business in 1969 and was in partnership with his father, J. M. ANDERSON for 11 years priorto that.

Pciture the unchanged exterior of the building at 118 West Adams Street. If you go back to early times, in your mind, you'll visualize a much different business operation with the late J. M. "Jesse" ANDERSON and his father-in-law, George TENNANT, in partnership. ANDERSON'S wife, Edna, at 96, lives at Clearview Home in Mount Ayr and remembers vividly.

In those early years there were two kinds of milling done at the Mill and Feed. Table-use milling provided cornmeal, buckwheat flour and cracked wheat breakfast food, for farmers who brough in their own corn to be ground and flour for sale, at the local grocery stores -- LIGGETT'S, George BALDNER'S, WILSON'S and LANE Grocery. For the latter the "Marco" label was used. (Mount Ayr Ringgold County.)

The second kind of milling was to produce animal feed -- for dairy, poultry and hogs. The Marco label also went on this. It was made with a hammer mill or feed mixer. These were bagged in print sacks that were later used for dresses. Some of the dresses made from the sacks were entered in county fair competition.

These owners survived the "depression years" of 1929 to the mid-1930's when customers didn't have the money to buy their products.

By 1933-34, the men had purchased a coal business, which they moved from about a block away to their location.

There were many coal furnaces in private homes and several businesses yearly bid on contracts to supply the courthouse, the many countryschools, churches, and later the Ringgold County Hospital. Most of the schools had hopper-fed furnaces but the hospital could boast the first Ben-fed stocker.

76 Railroad Cars of Coal

Max ANDERSON remembers a peak year for selling coal -- about 1960. This year he had gotten the bid for all the big accounts in town and it was a very cold winter. There were 76 railroad carloads of coal sold that year. In an average year from 55 to 60 carloads might be needed.

Profit-wise, Max considers the years from 1960 to 1975 probably the business' best.

In the early days, as now, there was an ice business. However, it went from ice, cut into 300-pound blocks for use in family ice boxes, to 8-pound bags of cubes for home use. Some town groceries and restaurants also use the cubes. Now the Mill and Feed also serves as back-up for nursing homes, the hospital, schools and some restaurants, who have their own ice-makers.

Nutrena Franchise

In 1937, the Mill and Feed took a franchise with Nutrena for feed. Now the Mill and Feel is one of the dealers with the longest association with Nutrena.

In early years, all these services brought farmers to town to do trading once a week -- on Saturday night. (During World War II, shortage of gasoline to operate cars perpetuated only once-a-week trips. The farmer and his family might bring eggs and cream to sell. This provided money to buy groceries and probably feed.

After the trading was done, the families might stay for a band concert in the courtyard and much socializing. The latest Max remembers staying to service customers was 2 a.m. Sunday.

During these years the Mill and Feed did business six days a week from 7 a.m. Now Mondy through Friday they are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are no business opportunites on Saturday night anymore.

Five employees is the most Max remembers being on the staff at the Mill and Feed. At present Max serves as owner-manager and is assisted by Jack YEAROUS. Max's wife, Maxine, is parttime bookkeeper, and their son, Kelly, works parttime during the school year (he will be a senior at Graceland College, Lamoni, this fall) and almost fulltime during the sumemr.

Early Involvement

Max became involved in the family business four years before he was graduated from Mount Ayr high school in 1946. It was summers and after school for him, too. Prior to that time he hung around and did errands. His family remembers him at age 12 delivering cornmeal to grocery stores hauled in his red wagon, because of the Mill being so close to the town square.

It is the livestock feed business that is the main thrust of the Mill and Feed now. Probably 90 percent of the business is feed; six percent milling and four percent ice. However, the approach is much different. Though the business does some milling, they encourage farmers to do their own. The contribution the ANDERSONS make is the adding of supplement to the grain.

Advice About Feed

Max explains that much more technology goes into a proper feed mix now -- supplements, medications, minerals, vitamins. Max and his staff have to know what can be done with feed -- what is advisable and what is legal. Some of what he is selling is that advice. They also have a bulk feed service.

The Mount Ayr Mill and Feed is thought to be among the three oldest on-family-owned businesses, along with IRVINGS and Home Hardware. Theynumber their customers among third generations of families.

Their operation is based on giving service to the family farmer -- something they've been doing through all of the 60 years the Mount Ayr Mill and Feed has been in business.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2010

May 7, 1947

Photo courtesy of Mike Avitt


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