Stewart Grain Co. Celebrates 100th Etchison Anniversary! (2022)

-Burt Etchison Marks 40th Anniversary as Third Generation

-Stewart Grain Co., Proud of Success, Thanks Employees, Customers, Suppliers, and Friends For Their Support

The year 2022 marks another milestone in the grain business for the Etchison family. That’s because, 100 years ago, Bert Etchison, born 1890, began operating the Stewart elevator.

A Brief History
1922 was the year the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. The Tomb of King Tut was discovered and the novel Ulysses was published by author James Joyce. Locally, Bert Etchison had been farming with his father Jacob but decided to venture into the grain business as a partner with Joe Weaver and A.J. Miller in the elevator at Stewart. After a few years, Bert bought out his partners. Using the old wooden elevator, that now stands behind the existing elevator as a monument to days passed, Bert also sold fertilizer and John Deere Implements. It is interesting to note that few of today’s farm implements would fit inside the building then used for equipment set-up. 

Horsepower hauled ear corn up the elevator hill and steam power shelled it and elevated the shelled corn to the same bins that are filled much faster today. Steam locomotives puffed up and down the railroad and switched boxcars in and out of the Stewart siding. 

A switching tower and depot existed and you could board at Stewart to take the New York Central to Chicago, or the Chicago & Eastern Illinois to the west.

Bert’s son Elmer Etchison began his career by keeping the steam engine fired at the age of 10 (1927). Later, he hauled grain all over Indiana and Illinois in an old, underpowered truck. “At the bottom of the bigger hills, I would shift down to low/low, pull out on the hand throttle, and stand on the running board to catch a breeze, steering through the window,” he once said. Upon returning home from the Navy in 1946, (after stations in San Diego, Honolulu, and Guam as radio intercept operator, Naval Intelligence Corps), Elmer took over the business from his father.

Elmer expanded the grain and fertilizer business continually until 1979. All this time, the bins that were added were getting larger and larger, and new technology stood beside the wooden elevator. Rail service seemed questionable, and it was thought that the railroad might abandon. The Russian grain deal of the early 70’s and the corn blight kept everyone on their toes. 

Growing up in ALL parts of a grain elevator, from the basement to the headhouse to the seat beside his Dad’s desk is agreat way for a boy to see and learn about many things. Elmer’s son Burt Etchison marks his own 40th anniversary at the helm of Stewart Grain Co. in 2022, after taking over in 1982. Since then, the Stewart facility has gone from a 425,000 bushel capacity to over 3 million. The West Lebanon and Marshfield locations were added in the late 80’s, and since have been closed. Bismarck and Alvin came into the group in 1998, Alvin having since been closed. Stewart Grain Co. now has access to 2 railroads and has the ability to ship grain anwhere in the country!

My part of this history is very important to me. I feel great when I am able to help a customer whose father or grandfather dealt with my father & grandfather, or when an expanding farmer tells me that the local elevator is even more important than ever before.  I enjoy my part in the business of this community.

 I want to express my gratitude for your business at the Stewart Grain Elevators. Handling your grain is our lifeblood. Our purpose is to offer value to you. In the year 2022, may God bless you, this community and our country.