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CORN BELT PACKING COMPANY

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer
1918 advertisement
1919 advertisement
1919 advetisement
Letterhead: Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque
CORN BELT PACKING COMPANY. The organization of the company was announced on September 2, 1917. (1) In 1918 property once belonging to the DUBUQUE BREWING AND MALTING COMPANY was sold on option to the Syndicate Trust Bank of Chicago, Illinois. Its local representative was H. C. Niblock.

The sale of stock went quickly. The DUBUQUE REALTY COMPANY purchased the first block of stock in 1917 for $50,000. It was announced by company representatives that an effort would be made to "scatter" the stock in the counties and towns surrounding Dubuque. Sales in the city made later. (2) By December 26, 1918, $1.8 of the $3 million in stock had been sold; eighty-five percent was held by farmers of eastern Iowa. The company was strongly endorsed by the Telegraph-Herald which cited Dubuque's indifference in the past and "putting up difficulties innumerable in the way of establishing here an industry creditable to the city..."(3) The company opened for business on October 15, 1919.

On November 3, 1919 representatives of J. R. Poole Company of New York and Boston, one of the largest brokerage firms in the United States handling edible food food products, visited the plant. Praising its efficiency, they announced that products of all kind and in large quantities of the company would be handled by the company in the eastern United States and Europe. (4) The same year an agreement was signed between the AMALGAMATED MEAT CUTTERS LOCAL 150 and the company acknowledging the existence of the union. This did not prevent trouble in 1920. Several workers were dismissed without contacting the union. (5)

A. B. McCue announced his resignation as president of the company on October 27, 1920 and was succeeded by Fred Kretschmer.

Corn Belt representatives announced that on March 3, 1921 the company's retail market would opened on the corner of 32nd and Washington. With each purchase of $1.00 or more, customers received a free package of Corn Belt Breakfast Sausage. The same month an urgent meeting was held to raise $300,000 from the sale of bonds. (6) One of the most unusual stories of corporate America occurred in June, 1921. When one of the company's delivery drivers was arrested for speeding, Fred Kretschmer, the company president, asked that the company and not the driver be held responsible. The judge complied. The company was fined $5 and costs. Kretschmer telephoned the company treasurer from the courtroom and had the treasurer pay the fine by voucher. (7)

Alleged financial irregularities were discovered while determining the cause of the company's financial problems. (8) It was charged in a lawsuit filed in 1922 that Ernest C. Devine and Henry J. Folts contracted with the company on August 5, 1919 to take over and underwrite stock on a commission of approximately 40%. This would have been in violation of several Iowa statutes. The packing company also supplied office space to the two men and provided them with gas, heal and light free of charge. In September, 1919 the two men sold $500,000 in stock of which Corn Belt should have received $300,000. It received $100,000. It was further charged in the suit that the $200,000 was loaned to the company when it began to have financial trouble. (9)

In July, 1923 after months of being closed due to the financial problems, Corn Belt Packing Company officials announced the firm would reopen. Under the new articles of incorporation, the company was capitalized at $1,700,000. It was stated that being a new firm, the company had been forced to close by the general business depression after the war. (10) Nothing was said of the lawsuit.

The hoped for reopening of the plant did not occur. On November 21, 1925, the company was sold at public sale to satisfy a judgment returned in favor of the firm's creditors. The purchasers, the bond holders, paid $149,338.79 and assumed an indebtedness of $45,144.10 due to taxes and special assessments. (11) In 1931 the buildings became the property of St. Louis packing interests which were still in operation in 1933. (12)


The 1923 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of 30th and Washington.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Notepad cover. Photo courtesy: Mike Vandenberg
On the Formal Opening Days, Saturday and Sunday, November 1-2, 1919 streams of visitors poured into the plant.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
The packing departments were put into operation on October 15, 1919. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Various kinds of sausage were manufactured in the plant.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
While only six chutes are shown, the company was able to unload eight cars of live stock at one time.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Joseph Jacobsmeier

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Source:

1. "Announcement," Telegraph-Herald, September 2, 1917, p. 26

2. "Dubuque Realty Company Takes Big Block of Stock," Telegraph-Herald, September 16, 1917, p. 9

3. "Day-by-Day," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, December 26, 1918, p. 12

4. "Poole Co. To Sell Corn Belt Meats," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 3, 1919, p. 10

5. "Corn Belt Co. and Union at Odds," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, August 3, 1920, p. 7

6. "Stockholders of Corn Belt Meet," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 12, 1921, p. 4

7. "Corn Belt Comes to Aid of Driver," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 29, 1921, p. 2

8. "Accounting of $250,000 Asked by Dubuquers," Telegraph-Herald, April 9, 1922, p. 1

9. Ibid.

10. "Operations to be Started at Plant Soon, Statement," Telegraph-Herald, July 8, 1923, p. 25

11. "Corn Belt Plant Sold at Auction," Telegraph-Herald, November 22, 1925, p. 17,

12. "More Than Million Pounds of Pork for Distribution to Needy in Storage Here," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, October 1, 1933, p. 7