History of the Wichita, Kansas Board of Trade
From: History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas
Past and Present
O. H. Bentley, Editor-in-Chief
C. F. Cooper & Co. Publisher.
Chicago 1910


BOARD OF TRADE AND HOW IT GREW.

Wichita has not achieved many things greater than her present board of trade in her thirty years' struggle for municipal recognition. With a grain market that is known as one of the best in the Southwest and a board of trade made up of live, hustling business men who get what they go after, it is not at all surprising that Wichita is a blacker speck on the grain map than many cities larger than she. The board of trade is one of the livest business organizations in Wichita today. In the line of city pushing and advertising it has done its share in giving Wichita the reputation of the coming city of the great Southwest.

The president of the board is W. F. McCullough, of the McCullough Grain Company. This is Mr. McCullough's second term in this capacity, his first term being so satisfactory to the board that the members demanded his appearance in the dictatorial chair for the second time. Mr. McCullough occupies about the same place among Kansas grain dealers that Browning did among the poets of the English tongue - the highest. If there is anything that the board of trade needs for the betterment of the grain business, Mr. McCullough is up night and day seeing that this is brought to pass. That's the sort of a man that is at the head of the Wichita board of trade, a dynamic, high tension personality who always lands with both feet fair and square. The vice presidency is filled by C. M. Jackman, of the Kansas Milling Company, the largest mill and elevator company in the Southwest. He is an able abettor in every good movement for the grain industry and loves his "profession."

The "Old Ironsides" of the official group is J. S. McCaulay. Always noted for his reticence - unless it is a rate discussion, then, say, you ought to see him declaim - he is lowering his record every year for saying less and is learning more about the rate question. Of course, every one will grant that there are numerous experts in Wichita who take special delight in learning everything they can about certain lines, but it is safe to say that such an expert in the rate business as Mr. McCaulay never walked across the new creosote pavement around the Sedgwick block. Whether it is his position of secretary, which he has had for several terms, that gives him this prying rate mind it cannot be authoritatively stated, but such is the fact. Mr. McCaulay is one of the first fourteen charter members and has been in the grain business in Wichita for more than twenty years.

The directors of the organization are C. K. Nevling, W. R. Watson, F. C. Dymock, C. R. Howard, A. R. Clark, J. W. Craig and W. L. Scott. The board is full on membership now. All of the fifty memberships have been disposed of, the last charter membership being sold a little over a year ago. If a person desires a membership he has to buy it directly from the owner and consequently the price of these little privileges to do business with the Wichita grain men are costing a deal more than they used to. A membership now costs a person $1,000. Seven years ago when the board of trade thrust its puny little self into the grain business in a half hearted attempt to grow, memberships had difficulty in selling at $25. These memberships have become things of really great commercial value now ands buying and selling them is a lucrative business. The habitat of the grain men and the lair of the board of trade is the Sedgwick block. This historic pile has gained fadeless laurels by being the home of so many bulls and bears. On the first floor everything is right and proper and one would naturally suppose that it is an ordinary office building, but hist! the second floor is a complete giveaway. From the moment you set foot on the seconds floor landing and hear the sound of manly voices shouting, you know that you have struck some sort of a combination. The second floor of the structure is nothing but grain offices, with the exception of one or two insurance offices, which manage to exist in some unexplainable way through the turmoil. It is the same way on the third floor. On you go to the fourth story and yet you find offices, yet not quite so many. When the fifth story is reached you strike the limit of the grain offices and also the limit of the building's height. It is one vast honeycomb of live, busy grain men who think the grain business, next to baseball, is the greatest thing in the world.

The firms who have offices in this building and are members of the board of trade are: Anderson-Koch Grain Company, Henry Probst Commission Company, David Heenan and Company, Dazey-Moore Grain Company, Stevens-Scott, Hall Baker, Roth Grain Company, A. R. Clark Grain Company, McCullough Grain Company, G. S. Barnes Jr. Grain Company, W. T. McCaulay Grain Company, Kolp Grain Company, Independent Grain Company, Western Grain Company, Kaufman-Boyle Grain Company, J. R. Williams, James Dobbs, Hastings Grain Company, Kelly Bros. Grain Company, Alvin Harbour Grain Company, H. C. Thompson Grain Company, Empire Grain Company, Woodside Smith Grain Company, United Grain & Commission Company, Tri-State Grain Company, Nevling Grain & Elevator Company, Arkansas Valley Grain Company, Norris and Company, Millers Grain Company, Kemper Grain Company, B. C. Christopher Grain Company, E. M. Elkins Grain Company, J. R. Harold Grain Company, Goryin Grain Company and the Brooking Company. The following milling and elevator companies are members of the Wichita board of trade : Kansas Milling Company, Red Star Milling & Elevator Company, Howard Milling Company, Imboden Milling Company, Watson Milling Company.

The Wichita board of trade is responsible for the great improvement in Wichita as a grain center. Prior to 1900 Wichita as a grain center did not cut a very big figure. In 1906, two years after the board had been organized, 10,875 cars of grain were handled by members of the board of trade; in 1907, 16,575 cars; in 1908, 24,326 cars. The number of cars handled during 1909 is estimated at 26,758. This is more than doubling the carload receipts in four years. This is certainly going some, but it is the normal gait of the Wichita board of trade. One third of these receipts was wheat. This shows clearly enough that the Wichita market is securing a great deal of wheat from this, the richest wheat growing section in the world.

Wichita always has been a grain market. Even during the time of the Indian it was the camping spot for him and the feeds were made here. Later on when the trading post was started up on Chisholm creek it was the halting place for the prairie schooners as they crawled westward over the dreary plain lands. With the advent of the Santa Fe trail and its tributary trail from Texas, through Wichita northward, Wichita became a market. In a few years, by reason of the hundreds and hundreds of wagon trains which made this city the terminus of their trip, it became known as the greatest wagon market in the world. When the Santa Fe railroad was put in, wagon loads of grain were hauled from points sixty miles distant from Wichita. The grain was ground, loaded and shipped to the North. By reason of this Wichita secured a very wide reputation as a center of some importance. Later when the Frisco system came, the ground grain was loaded and shipped to St. Louis, Mo. Old timers can easily recall the long rows of grain wagons which came lumbering to Wichita from every direction, piled high with grain. At this time when a few of the citizens of the then rather diminutive town had aspirations for a New York on the Western plains, a bunch of them got together and founded what was called the Wichita board of trade. Now this wasn't any more of a board of trade than a quartette is an orchestra, yet it did good work for the town. It was more of a commercial club than anything else and did good work while it lasted, but after a brief existence - kersmash it went.

The grain business continued to pick up, new firms came in, new capital came in, and a new tone was given to the market. Along at the close of the 90's men in the grain business knew that the point to either put up a fight for the grain center of the Southwest or to lose out entirely had been reached. There was nothing of the coward in these early men and the matter of the grain organization was talked of seriously. The twentieth century dawned, yet no definite arrangements had been made, although favor for this new project had grown. The promoters of this new commercial entity met in 1902 and made plans for the arranging of shares and operation of an organization known as the Wichita board of trade. In 1903 the first fourteen shares of the fifty shares of stock were sold for $25 per share.


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