This collection of papers covers the history of Patent Cereals who produced brewery products, wallpaper paste, and food products as well as the Rex line in Geneva.
Scope and Content:
This collection covers the time from when the company moved to Geneva in the 1880s until the business closed and the last buildings were demolished in the 1970s. There is a wide variety of ephemera not only from Patent Cereals but other dry paste companies in addition to photos, newsletters, and articles.
Biographical / Historical:
The Patent Cereals Corporation was founded in 1883 in New York City, when the Licht Company sold its patent for processing grains to the company and employed Louis Licht as superintendent of the business to be opened in Geneva, between Bradford Street and the harbor. The company’s line of products were all derived from wheat and corn, abundant in the area, and included brewery products, wallpaper paste, and food products as well as the Rex line.
The Company expanded to meet market demand, having 50 employees and processing 900,000 bushels of wheat and corn each year. Within twenty years of their establishment, their employee base had grown to 75 and they were processing 150,000 bushels daily. They had also added a corn processing plant to its manufacturing facilities by this time. From its earliest establishment, the company was committed to the development of new product lines and advertising. Dic-A-Doo paint cleaner became a highly promoted product, with the company’s baseball team playing in shirts with a Dic-A-Doo bird and company sponsored radio show in the 1920s.
During the depression, the company experienced financial hardships and by the end of the 1930s a union was organized. Production during the 1940s expanded and the company turned to women and German prisoners of war to help fill labor needs.
The company remained in partial ownership of the Licht family until 1954, when the Lauhoff Grain Company of Dansville, Illinois bought the site and buildings. Because of the company's heavy reliance on rail transportation and the cost of shipping corn from the west, officials decided to close the plant in 1962. Shortly afterwards, the buildings were destroyed by fire. The last of the company’s complex of brick buildings was torn down in 1978.