Century Corporation: A fair trade
By Kris Leonhardt
Part two in a series
As Sparr Cereal, the mill’s focus then turned to ground corn for meal and “grits” for making beer, but an unlikely trade over a decade later would put the business under new ownership.
“H.C. Koening was a grocery store operator, and he traded his grocery store business for the mill. That’s when it was named Marshfield Milling Company, and that was in 1922, and that is where we record our history,” said Christy Ogurek, Prince director of manufacturing.
“Because that’s when they started doing the animal feeds and stuff like that like, which is the basis for what we do now,” added Prince CEO Shaun Quinlan.
The Marshfield News Herald reported the sale in its May 16, 1922, article, “A very important business transaction was consummated Monday whereby Amos Roll came into possession of the business block, containing two stores, and the grocery stock of H.C. Koening at 305 South Central Avenue (Marshfield.) In payment of same, Mr. Roll has turned over his stock in the Sparr Cereal Co., to Mr. Koening, who will take an active part in the business with Louis Salter, the present manager, and member of the concern.
“Mr. Roll expects to dispose of the grocery stock, and will lease the building to the purchaser of the same, retaining possession of the buildings for the present at least.”
Nine days later, it was announced that Salter has disposed of his holdings in the company and would be leaving Marshfield. This left the Koenig as the principal owner.
Helmuth C. (H.C.) Koenig was born in Brillion in 1866, the son of a Prussian emigrant. The family came to Marshfield in 1880, where he later married Theresa Seubert. They had six children. She died in 1904.
He then took a second wife, Frances Kohlbeck, and had eight more children.
H.C. and Frances operated what was noted as one of the “oldest grocery” stores in that day, with a reputation for carrying the “best grades of groceries.”
Their son, Walter, first worked for his father at the grocery store, and later was at his side at Marshfield Milling Company.
The new corporation listed H.C. Koenig as president, William Welter as vice president, and W.J. Koenig as secretary/treasurer.
In May 1929, Marshfield Milling constructed a 32x40x15 addition to their warehouse on West Second Street. The project came with an estimated $300 price tag. In July 1932, the company began construction on a $1,000 warehouse.
Business was going well, but on Thanksgiving morning 1934, entrepreneurship for H.C. Koenig would come to an end.
Next week: Part III – What’s in a name?