Horseshoe Lake, 2016

Alhambra Grain & Feed

March 5, 2018

Last modified: January 31, 2019

Alhambra Grain & Feed opened in 1919 as a customer-owned, cooperative grain elevator in Alhambra, which opened a second grain elevator in Marine in 1950. In 1945, the Alhambra location expanded and began production as the first cooperative soybean processing mill in Illinois. By 1960, the business grew to more than 1,200 members, served more than 2000 farmers within a 200-square-mile radius, and functioned as a community meeting center for the town. The Illinois Grain Corporation (IGC) took over the business in 1961 due to a shortfall in accounts found during a government audit of their inventory.  Alhambra Grain & Feed was sold to Madison Service Company in 1962, which then merged with M & M Service Company in 2011. As of 2018, both original locations are still in operation as a cooperation, but as part of the M & M Service Company.

A grain elevator is used to store grains. A cooperative grain elevator is when a group of investors, usually farmers, pool their money or other resources together to build a grain elevator which they then share. A group of citizens and farmers who recognized a need for a cooperative grain elevator opened Alhambra Grain & Feed in 1919.1 Their first board of directors were elected on April 3, 1919. Hug Construction company of Highland built the Alhambra elevator.2  Alhambra Grain & Feed began operating a second grain elevator in Marine in 1950.3 The Alhambra location sponsored a local ladies bowling team for more than twelve years and was often used as a meeting place for various local organizations, such as the 4-H Club, American Legion Auxiliary, and the Home Bureau.

Cooperatives also pool their resources for other purposes, such as building a soybean processing mill. Due to war-time regulations that rationed food products and increased the use of soybean oil nation-wide, there was a need to build a soybean processing plant in Alhambra during World War II. Herman Martin of Hamel was the contractor for the building.4 On May 1, 1945 the soybean processing mill began full production of soybean meal and oil.5  It was the first cooperative soybean processing unit in Illinois,6 and it was one of the first twenty in the nation.7 The University of Illinois established testing fields, including soybean experiments, near this co-op in the mid-1940s.8 The soybean processing mill was shut down in 1961, around the time of an audit and Illinois Grain Corporation takeover.9

Elmer Ruehrup (1922-1992) of Alhambra was manager of Alhambra Grain & Feed until he resigned on January 5, 1961.10  During that same month, a government audit of Alhambra Grain & Feed revealed a shortage of grain stored at their elevators, caused by inaccurate inventory records kept by Ruehrup.11 At this time, Alhambra Grain & Feed served about 2,000 farmers in a 200-square-mile area. This shortfall meant they owed creditors, including many of its 1,200 members, $149,211.12  Effective January 23, 1961 the business was taken over by the Illinois Grain Corporation (IGC).13 The IGC is a statewide grain marketing cooperative and Alhambra Grain & Feed was one of the 156 elevator cooperatives who participated in the ownership and operation of it.14 Alhambra Grain & Feed entered a reorganization period with the help of the IGC.15 It remained in operation until they were sold in 1962 to Madison Service Company.16 In 1963, Ruehrup was convicted of three counts of false credit applications to the Federal Farm Credit Administration and St. Louis Bank for Co-operatives. In 1964, he was sentenced to two years for knowingly making false statements as to the value of grain on hand to federal agencies dating back to 1959. Much of the testimony revolved around the audit conducted in January 1961.17

In 2011, Madison Service Company merged with M & M Service Company.18 As of 2018, M & M Service Company was still in operation as a cooperation at 16 locations across Macoupin, Montgomery, and Madison counties. This included the Alhambra location and two locations in Marine.

Endnotes   [ + ]

1. “Alhambra Grain and Feed Company,” in Alhambra, Illinois Sesquicentennial, 1849-1999 (Shawnee Mission, Kansas: Kes-Print, 1999), 45.
2. Ibid.
3. Alhambra Grain Co. Short $85,000; IGC to Take Over,Alton Evening Telegraph, January 23, 1961, p. 6  (accessed February 3, 2018).
4. “Alhambra Grain and Feed Company,” 45.
5. Alhambra Grain Co. Short $85,000; IGC to Take Over,” 6.
6. “Illinois Cooperative Soybean Mill,” Soybean Digest 5, no. 4 (February 1945): 14.
7. Edward G Schiffman, “Cooperative Soybean Processing Mills,” Soybean Digest 5, no. 4 (February 1945): 12.
8. Trial of New Crops Urged,” Alton Evening Telegraph, September 21, 1944, p. 2, (accessed February 15, 2018).
9. Alhambra Grain Co. Short $85,000; IGC to Take Over,” 6.
10. Fred J. Watts, Jr., “Illinois Grain Clairifies Position with Alhambra,” The Edwardsville Intelligencer, March 25, 1961, p. 4, (accessed February 15, 2018).
11. Elmer Ruehrup is Given 2 Years; Eligible for Parole in 4 Months,” The Edwardsville Intelligencer, January 11, 1964, p. 1 (accessed February 10, 2018).
12. Alhambra Grain Co. Short $85,000; IGC to Take Over,” 6.
13. IGC to Take Over Alhambra Grain; Firm Short $60,000,” The Edwardsville Intelligencer, January 20, 1961, p. 1,  (accessed February 3, 2018).
14. Fred J. Watts, Jr., 4.
15. IGC to Take Over Alhambra Grain; Firm Short $60,000,” 1.
16. “Madison Service Company,” in Alhambra, Illinois Sesquicentennial, 1849-1999 (Shawnee Mission, Kansas: Kes-Print, 1999), 52.
17. Jury Finds Grain Man is Guilty,” Alton Evening Telegraph, November 8, 1963, p. 3,  (accessed February 3, 2018).
18. Our History,” M & M Service Company, 2016, (accessed February 10, 2018).
Cite this article: Angela Little, "Alhambra Grain & Feed," Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive for Madison County, Illinois, last modified January 31, 2019,
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