GIBSON CITY As Gibson City celebrates its 150th birthday this year, the sesquicentennial celebration committee is spotlighting some of the businesses in town and their histories.
The first commercial business done in Gibson City was a grain elevator owned by William Moyer, one of the village’s original residents. He founded the business in 1870 and according to the book “A Lott of City in 100 Years, 1871-1971: A Centennial History of Gibson City, Ill.,” soon achieved the status of being the most prosperous man in town.
Another community pioneer, William J. Wilson, who moved to Gibson City from Clark County, Ohio, in 1876, was engaged in the grain business until his elevator burned in the days when the structures were made of wood rather than steel and concrete as they are now. He was a prolific landowner in the area and had business interests in other institutions as well.
Today the tradition of businesses buying and selling grain in Gibson City lives on with Alliance Grain Co., a farmer-owned cooperative. Alliance provides grain storage, marketing assistance and off-farm hauling services.
Alliance was the result of a consolidation vote from the shareholders of Anchor Grain Co. and Farmers Grain of Gibson City in September 1991.The company acquired Foosland Grain in April 1992 and merged with Farmers Grain of Charlotte in August 1994. In July 2002, the shareholders of Sibley Grain Co. voted to merge with Alliance. Alliance purchased the assets of Ford Grain of Melvin, Roberts Grain Company and Herscher Grain Company in September 2006, August 2017 and February 2019, respectively.
The company is comprised of elevators in Anchor, Bellflower, Cabery, Campus, Charlotte, Colfax, Cropsey, Cullom, Gibson City (West and Middle), Herscher, Melvin, Roberts, Saybrook and Sibley. The 15 locations have a combined storage capacity of about 30 million bushels of grain.
Eight of the 15 elevators are rail load-out accessible via the shortline Bloomer Line railroad, which transports corn, soybeans and wheat from locations in Ford, McLean and Livingston counties to Gibson City, where the rail cars are turned over to Canadian National, Norfolk & Southern or Toledo, Peoria and Western railroads. The Herscher elevator is rail-load accessible via the Canadian National rail market.
Alliance’s farmer shareholders annually elect board members from three districts. Three directors represent each of the districts and serve three-year terms, meeting monthly to conduct business.