By Ann Chrissos
In 1919, Chesterfield became the home of the first grain elevator to be constructed in St. Louis County. The Chesterfield Farmers’ Elevator & Supply Company proposed building an elevator and locating it on the north side of Olive Street Road (Old Chesterfield Road). St. Louis County farmers owned and operated the company and many of these farmers lived and worked in the Chesterfield area. For example, Leicester Busch Faust, who served as the planning committee’s president, Adolph Autenreith, the vice president, and Edward Burkhardt, the secretary, all lived in Chesterfield. They served with John P. Busch, the treasurer, to promote the construction of a grain elevator. They contracted with the Stone Construction Company to build the elevator of reinforced concrete for $30,000. Construction began in June 1919 and was completed four months later. The elevator measured 32 x 32 feet by 75 feet high and had a capacity of 25,000 bushels. Eighty-two stockholders witnessed the opening of the ultra-modern elevator which was fireproof, contained a wheat cleaner and other mechanical inventions which were expected to add to the quality and price of wheat. The company also handled oats, barley, flour, millings, bran, meat scrap, tankage, Purina products, fertilizers and barrel salt. These items were stored in several concrete warehouses constructed near the main building. All of the buildings were situated between Olive Street Road and the Rock Island Railway, making transportation to markets fairly easy.
However, not all of the elevator’s founders were farmers. For instance, Leicester Busch Faust was a student at Washington University in 1919, even though his father, Edward A. Faust had purchased eighty acres of farmland along Olive Street Road two years earlier. Leicester would eventually come to own and farm all of what is now Faust Park. Although Edward Burkhardt had been raised on a farm, he chose to own and operate a mercantile. He also served as postmaster of the Chesterfield Post Office and was one of the founders of the Farmer’s State Bank of Chesterfield. His businesses were located just west of the elevator along Olive Street Road. On the other hand, Adolph Autenrieth did own a farm in Chesterfield and his son, Herbert, worked for the Farmers’ Elevator & Supply Company from 1922-1964. He eventually became the manager and, when he retired his assistant, Frank B. Gerst succeeded him.
Once the elevator was up and running, an official staff of officers and a board of directors were chosen by the stockholders. L. Busch Faust continued to serve as president and Adolph Autenreith held his position as vice-president. William H. Wagenbreth served as secretary and Gottlieb H. Bayer as treasurer. Other members of the board of directors included Gottlieb’s son, Edward J. Bayer, Emil Hoefer, C. D. Boisellier, Henry Schreve and Joseph Bayer. Gottlieb Bayer’s father, Thomas Bayer, arrived in Bonhomme Bottoms (Chesterfield Valley) in 1843 where he farmed as well as worked as a carpenter and wagonmaker. Gottlieb inherited the ninety acre farm to which he added another ninety acres. Gottlieb’s son, Edward J. Bayer, was also a farmer. On October 17, 1910, at the age of eighteen, Edward won a $100 scholarship at the Corn Show in Clayton, Missouri. According to historian William L. Thomas, “he exhibited ten ears of ‘Boon county white,’ of uniform size and length.” Another Chesterfield resident, Walter Le Pere, won fourth place for his ten ears of the “Farmers interest.”
Chesterfield’s grain elevator served the area during its agrarian heyday. By 1975, farmland was being converted into subdivisions and businesses. Since the elevator and warehouses were no longer needed, they were torn down. They have now been relegated to a place in Chesterfield’s history.
Autenrieth, Herbert was interviewed by Marian Hackmann and Arland Stemme.
Chesterfield Historical Commission Book Committee, Chesterfield, MO: From Untamed Wilderness to Thriving Municipality, 2011.
Essen, Frederick & John J. Hartnett, History of St. Louis County, MO, 1920.
Rothwell, Dan A., A Guide to Chesterfield’s Architectural Treasures, 1998.
Thomas, William L., History of St. Louis County, MO, 1911.