Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Oakford & Fahnestock Grocery
by A. A. Oakford, Feb. 21, 1923
(This item was found by Sid Eslinger, inside a book at the Peoria Historical Society Library some years ago. It was copied by her. Its original source, if published, is not known at this time)
The present wholesale grocery business conducted under the same name of OAKFORD & FAHNESTOCK was founded in the year 1868.
The location of the first business house of this old firm was in the 100 block of North Washington street, and teh business at that time was carried on under the name of HENRY & OAKFORD. It was conducted as both a retail and a wholesale business.
In 1871 Mr. H. H. FAHNESTOCK entered the firm and the name was changed to HENRY, OAKFORD & FAHNESTOCK. The retail business was discontinued and a removal was made to Block 200 of South Washington St. in a building somewhat smaller than even the present office quarters alone.
In 1874 C. J. OFF was admitted to the firm. He retired in 1877.
At this latter date another change in location took place - a removal being made to the middle of Block 300 of South Washington St., a portion of the property occupied by the prsent plant.
Only a very few years later it was necessary to seek larger quarters and the Easton Block, next to the Board of Trade Building, was built expressly for OAKFORD & FAHNESTOCK.
The business was carried on for only a few years in the Easton Block when their growing business required very much larger quarters and they bought the four-story building on the corner of Liberty and Commercial
Sts. and the office building which they now occupy.
It became necessary to further enlarge their quarters so they built a very large warehouse on Water Street, running from Commercial Alley to Water St. This is connected to the Washington Street property by a tunnel under Commercial Street.
In a few years this continued growth fo the business made it necessary to build a larger new warehouse adjacent to the other property on Washington Street.
They are now carrying on probably the largest merchandising business running into many millions annually and one very interesting feature is the manufacturing part of it, which is carried on in the Water street warehouse, where syrups are refined, coffees are roaster, spices are ground and extracts, peanut butter and many other things in the grocery line are prepared under their celebrated Blue Ribbon Brand.
The business which at first covered only a few Counties adjacent to Peoria, now extends into Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.
You asked me for some information about the statue of the Wholesale Grocery business.
During the war there was considerable money made, but a terrible financial storm broke loose the latter half of 1920 and became very nearly submerging the wholesale grocery business all over the land, because of the fearful reduction in prices. To illustrate - within a few months sugar declined from 27 cents to 16 cents. The wholesale grocery business has hardly yet recovered from that terrible time of deflation, but is on a very sound basis now and we are looking forward to prosperous years in the near future.
If the pupiles of your great school are interested and wish at any tine to go over our plant, especially the coffee roasting and manufacturing plant, we would be happy to have them visit us - coming in numbers of say about fifteen at a time.
Very sincerely yours
<signed> A. S. Oakford
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