In 1916, Galesburg, Ill., realtors Arthur R. Anderson and Louis L. Steel joined businessman E. B. Holmes to incorporate the Inland Grain Company. At its height, Inland Grain owned fifteen small town grain elevators across central Illinois. In 1923, the officers hired Hiram H. Potter, an expert in marketing grain, to manage their far-flung operations. When, in 1926, Inland Grain went under, Potter and two business associates started the Valley Grain Company. Valley Grain took over five of Inland Grain's more viable elevators, located in Douglas, Mahomet, Norwood, and Wing, Ill.
This collection contains correspondence, business documents, and ledgers relating to Valley Grain and its parent enterprises, 1914-44. The bulk of material is from 1927 to 1932, when Potter simultaneously was attempting to tie up Inland Grain's loose ends and get Valley Grain off the ground. The correspondence, particularly the letters of B. F. Rayburn of Mahomet and R. D. Smilie of Odell, document the day-to-day activities of Valley Grain through the daily communications between Potter and his local managers. The correspondence also discusses the general condition of the midwestern farm economy, the Great Depression, federal farm legislation such as the McNary-Haugen Bill, political issues, farmers co-operatives, and the Ku Klux Klan. The collection also contains ledgers and record books as well as loose business records.
Miriam Gummere of Galesburg, Ill., donated the collection to the Knox College Archives in 1987. Knox College transferred the papers to the Library in 1988.