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I’m somewhat obsessed with the early days of Hy-Vee. I’ve read, “The History of Hy-Vee: 75 Years of a Helpful Smile (2004),” by Kathleen Gilbert, so I know where there are gaps in the information. And that’s what I focus on.
In April 1923, Charles Hyde and his family moved to the Duncan property in Mt. Ayr. Mr. Hyde was the manager of the new Supply Store owned by the General Supply Company, who had their headquarters in Lamoni. The General Supply Co. was affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and both Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg were members of this church. The Hyde family moved to Lamoni from Mt. Ayr in August 1924.
The Hyde family would again live in Ringgold County beginning in October 1927 when they moved to Kellerton where Charles was half owner of a grocery store with the General Supply Co. They stayed until June 1933 when they again moved to Lamoni.
The first store Hyde and Vredenburg owned together opened in late 1929 or early 1930. However, neither one of them managed this store; Cecil and Alice Noftsger did. But, Hyde and Vredenburg had opened a store in nearby Grand River (store #2) in 1930 and Mr. Noftsger was managing that store as early as January 1931. The Noftsgers moved to Grand River in February 1931.
The next managers at Beaconsfield were George and Helen Dickey of Lamoni. They were followed by Dale and Lelia Gamet. The Gamets moved to Princeton, Mo. in June 1933 and the Beaconsfield store closed.
It is recorded that the Kellerton store was number 4 or 5 in order and closed in May 1940. Some of the managers there were Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Levi Spillman, James Hoffman, and Mr. Virden.
Hyde and Vredenburg, who didn’t use the name Hy-Vee until 1952, had their headquarters in Lamoni until 1945 when they moved it to Chariton, Iowa and I can think of two reasons why.
The CB&Q railroad once again cut service to the branch line Lamoni (and Mount Ayr) was on in 1945. Also, relocating to Chariton put them at the crossroads of the Burlington Route mainline, the CB&Q Chariton to St. Joseph branch line, and the Rock Island mainline. This gave them rail access to many of their stores if not most.
The first Hyde and Vredenburg store in Mount Ayr opened in 1947 and will soon move into its fourth location.