When harvest time comes around I always remember how busy my mom, Florence (Schumm) Miller, was during the fall harvest as Willshire Grain & Supply’s bookkeeper. She often put in extra hours during what was probably the busiest time of the year for both her and the farmers.
Anyone who knew my mother remembers that she was a very conscientious bookkeeper and that she made sure her books balanced to the penny.
My mom worked at Willshire Grain & Supply for 33 years. She started working there in 1947, soon after she graduated from Willshire High School. Mildred (Schumm) Franz was the bookkeeper there at that time and she taught my mom how to do the bookkeeping at a grain elevator. Mildred resigned as the bookkeeper when she married Christian Franz.
Below is an old photo of Willshire Grain & Supply that my mom had. It was taken in 1948.
Willshire Grain and Supply was owned by Tom Burk. Before Burk purchased the business it was called the Equity Elevator and Mildred (Schumm) Franz had worked at the Equity for 10 years
The Burks were in the grain elevator business for three generations, beginning with Tom’s grandfather George T. Burk (1856-1941). According to census reports George Burk was a store keeper in Clinton, Perry County, Indiana, in 1900. By 1910 George was the proprietor of a grain elevator in Decatur, Indiana.
By 1920 George’s son Sim Burk was a grain merchant in Decatur and by 1930 Sim Burk was the proprietor of a grain elevator there. Sim Burk (1890-1966) and his brother Avon (1888-1974) eventually owned several grain elevators in the area. Avon owned an elevator in Decatur, and Sim owned the elevator in Monroe, Indiana. Another elevator in Peterson, Indiana, was also owned by one of the Burk brothers. Ellen (Schumm) Black, Mildred (Schumm) Franz’s sister, worked at Burk’s Decatur elevator until she married.
Eventually Sim Burk’s son Tom wanted to get into the family grain elevator business, too. He purchased the Equity Elevator in Willshire and renamed it Willshire Grain & Supply. Later he purchased the Schumm elevator and eventually the elevator at Wren. All three of the Ohio elevators were known as Willshire Grain & Supply.
My mom did the bookkeeping for the three Burk Elevators at Willshire, Schumm, and Wren. Mary (Schumm) Grote was the bookkeeper at the Wren elevator from 1955-1981. The Schumm elevator did not have a bookkeeper but Mary’s dad Emmanuel Schumm ran the Schumm elevator for many years. Dallas Kiracofe ran the Schumm elevator after Emmanuel retired and Dallas worked there until it closed. They eventually burned the Schumm elevator down.
I remember going into the Willshire elevator a number of times when my mom worked there. I recall that it was very dusty and that they had a candy bar machine. Either my mom or Tom Burk often gave me a candy bar when I was there. There were always a couple farmers there talking and my mom was usually doing book work, using an adding machine, or weighing grain. She was on the phone a lot with farmers and other elevators.
Even after she retired she, for as long as she lived, she followed the grain markets every day. She knew what time the markets would be on the radio and she knew the phone number of the beanery by heart.
My mom kept several diaries over the years and she was very consistent about recording the daily grain prices instead of writing down the interesting family items I would like to read about!
My mom retired in about 1980, after 33 years of bookkeeping, at about the same time Tom Burk retired.
No doubt about it, she was a very good bookkeeper.