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I spoke about Hy-Vee’s early history at the Mount Ayr Public Library during Ayr Days celebration and the Lamoni Chronicle newspapers are now digitized and online so I have some additional information to share.
Hy-Vee’s co-founders, Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg, were both raised in northern Harrison County, Iowa around communities such as Woodbine, Magnolia, Little Sioux, and Pisgah.
Both were members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as well. So they likely knew each other before Hyde went to work for Vredenburg at a store in Woodbine in 1921.
This store was either owned or managed by David Vredenburg and Archie Lewis.
I found out Vredenburg and Lewis had been partners in another store in Hatfield, Missouri in 1920. This venture only lasted one year but is the only time I ever see Vredenburg or Hyde doing business in a town without a railroad, although Hatfield was in proximity to the General Supply Co. located in Lamoni.
The General Supply Co. would later operate a chain of stores in northern Missouri and southern Iowa. I don’t know what their holdings were at this time but they incorporated in 1922 and that’s when Vredenburg moved to Lamoni to oversee operations at the General Supply Co. which was owned by the RLDS Church.
In 1923, Hyde moved to Mount Ayr to manage the (General) Supply Store which had just opened. Obviously Hyde had proved himself in Woodbine and Vredenburg was looking to expand and grow the company he operated.
In 1925, Hyde left the General Supply Co. and bought a grocery store and meat market in Cameron, Mo. In 1927, Hyde came back to the General Supply Co. being half owner in a store in Kellerton with the parent company.
Hyde lived in Kellerton from 1927 to 1933, the year his daughter Hortense graduated from Kellerton High School.
Hy-Vee history books say Hyde and Vredenburg opened their first store together, apart from the General Supply Co., in the winter of 1930 at Beaconsfield.
I say the fall of 1929, but I’m going to save that for later and tell you about store number two.
Not all of the early Hy-Vee Stores (the term Hy-Vee wasn’t used until 1952) were owned jointly. A small number were owned by Hyde OR Vredenburg separately.
Store Number 2, in Grand River, seems to have been owned by Vredenburg alone.
In July 1930, Ellis Bedwell, an RLDS Elder from Lamoni, bought a half interest in the Supply Store at Grand River. The other half was owned by Vredenburg or the General Supply Co. In January 1931, Bedwell sold his half to Vredenburg and the Hy-Vee history books say Grand River was store number two in 1931.
The temporary manager for the Grand River store was Cecil Noftsger, the original manager of the Beaconsfield Store. Noftsger’s wife Alice continued to manage the Beaconsfield store.
Since the Noftsgers were employees of David Vredenburg and not the General Supply Co., I would say Vredenburg was the sole owner of store number two.
Things to keep in mind if you’re a hardcore history nut: The Great Depression started the last week of October 1929 and Beaconsfield and Grand River were only eight miles apart on the same railroad line. Also, the Beaconsfield bank was started by a man from…..Lamoni.