Although liquidated ten years ago, the McAllister Creamery & Bottling Works, operating as “Marceline’s First Factory” from 1923 until 1953, played a significant role in the growth and development of Marceline. Any history of Marceline would be incomplete without proper mention of the McAllister firm, as well as the McAllister family itself, for the public esteem it held here and in surrounding areas for the varied and extensive services it rendered during the period it was in existence.
The McAllister family entered Marceline’s business scene in 1891 when Bradford McAllister began his dray and express service with his sons. When the McAllister creamery closed in 1953, it employed 27 persons, 17 of which worked in the home plant in Marceline. It operated a fleet of 12 trucks to facilitate its extensive delivery service and used 25 tons of local freight from the Santa Fe Railway each month. It maintained branch offices in Carrollton, Chillicothe and Brookfield.
Bradford McAllister, of Scotch-Irish descent, was born in Waldo County, Maine on August 6, 1846. Before moving to Carroll County, Missouri, at the age of 20, he had learned the trade of blacksmithing and carriage making. In 1869, he married Malinda J. Brown and to this union was born 12 children: Laura, Arthur, Fred, Emma, Louise, Ralph, Chester, Ross, John, Olive, Hazel and Earl. He farmed and operated a store in Carroll County before coming to Marceline in 1889.
During the time Mr. McAllister operated his express business in Marceline, 1891 until 1912, he sold and delivered ice cut from nearby ponds. In the expansion of the retail ice trade from the McAllister pond, which served as a landmark in the northwest part of Marceline, the McAllisters then purchased Tam Carter’s hand-operated bottling equipment and building at the edge of the pond. Bottling was done by Ross McAllister at that location for one season. It then moved to the southeast corner of the McAllister block near the downtown district.
Automatic bottling machines were installed as well as bottle sterilizing devices and the McAllister concern enjoyed an early reputation for purity and wholesomeness of quality for its bottled drinks, a reputation that was a part of their business until it closed and one that is readily recalled today by the countless number of customers it served at the time.
In 1923, John W. McAllister purchased a small creamery and established it on the McAllister block. Shortly alter this new enterprise started, it proved successful and the father, Bradford McAllister, purchased a half interest in the plant from his son, John, and operating as B. McAllister & Sons, the firm gave employment to his other sons, Chester, Ralph and Ross.
To assure supplies for their first rotary churn and creamery departments, a herd of cows was acquired and two large silos and a commodious bar were erected. As an example of the sturdiness of their buildings, the huge barn, with 4,000 square feet of floor space, is now standing northwest of the plant proper where it was erected almost forty years ago.
The next McAllister enterprise was the making of ice cream. This was a natural step as they had access to a large quantity of natural ice, had the necessary dairy products and were experienced in the use of flavorings and extracts. The experimental equipment they first used for making ice cream was merely a modified and enlarged version of an old- fashioned hand freezer. This equipment was replaced with 75 gallon capacity boxes which contained 15 five-gallon cans surrounded by salted ice which had to be repacked twice daily. The ice cream department was under the personal supervision of Chester McAllister.
The question of “the horse vs. the automobile” probably was dramatized no more obviously anywhere than in the McAllister organization. Their first experience with the horseless carriages was in 1914 when a one-ton Maxwell truck and Maxwell touring car were purchased from R. M. Wrenn. These early vehicles, which were none too dependable on the rough roads in the adjacent hill country, didn’t displace “Ole Dobbin'” from the service of this firm for several years.
In 1918, Chester McAllister was elected mayor of Marceline, finishing W. C. Arnold’s unexpired term. He was then elected mayor at the next regular election and served until 1922 in that capacity. His administration of city affairs is recalled as highly successful and characterized by his policy of close economy with city finances.
When the ammonia refrigeration equipment was installed in a special addition to the rear of B. McAllister & Sons’ plant, it not only offered a modern method of freezing ice cream, brine cooled and circulated between cans by machinery, but it provided also an excellent storage area for the 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of butter churned in the plant every week. “Goldenrod” butter, churned from high quality cream from farms of the Marceline area, was manufactured under the most sanitary conditions possible. The cream was pasteurized before it was churned to insure destruction of all harmful bacteria.
Bradford McAllister later withdrew from the firm, B. McAllister & Sons and the name was changed to McAllister Bros., the name under which it was operating before the firm closed in 1953.
In 1922, Ralph D. Crystal was sent to Brookfield to open a branch office and distributing point for McAllister products. The modern brick building with modern office, store rooms, cream-testing laboratory and mechanically-operated refrigeration storage was located north and across the street from the ticket office of the CB & Q, Burlington, Railroad.
In 1933, Virgil Slaughter, a veteran McAllister employee, was sent to Chillicothe to open a branch distributing point there similar to the one in Brookfield. The Chillicothe branch was under the supervision of Ross McAllister who had operated the old bottling machine by hand in the early days of the company. During the same year, a service route was established out of the Marceline plant which distributed soda pop, ice cream, butter, candies and tobaccos to retailers in the towns and villages between Milan and Green City, as far south as Glasgow and between Bevier and Meadville, where the Chillicothe branch started. This servicing required a 200 gallon capacity refrigerated truck fitted similar to a country store and was under the supervision of Earl McAllister, the younger of the McAllister brothers.
Berwyn Forrester, an employee at the Marceline plant for eight years, was sent to Carrollton to open still another branch office in 1935. Due to the quality of the products he sold and his willingness to be of service, the Carrollton branch prospered continually.
At the time the McAllister firm closed, Chester B. McAllister was general manager and Ralph N. McAllister was supervisor over the refrigeration and mechanical repair departments. John W. McAllister, who started the concern, was operating a creamery in Joplin at that time.
Among the names appearing on the McAllister payroll through the years will be found Ola Thomas, Frances Bridwell, Arthur Swan, Will Roberts, a Mr. Griggs, M. H. “Slick” Taylor, Kenneth Fox, Jim Baton, Earl Bealmear, Frank Wright, Lloyd Burch, Francis Gucker, H. H. Johnson, Charles “Pee Wee” Green, John Wolf, Clyde Owings, Edith McAllister, Clement Snider, S. H. Robertson, James W. Duvall, Lovell Elsa, Edna Thomas, Cecil Burch, Thomas Fox, Glen Wylie, T. A. Adair, Henry Bealmear, Bill Hayden, Russell McKinney, J. William Jackson, John Jobson, Michael Earl Coffman, Tommy Davis, N. R. DeYoung, Marjoria Taylor, Vernon Boddy, Gorden Forrester, Kenneth Taylor, Nova Simpson, Raymond Schutte, Richard Schutte, Cecil Brotherton, a Mr. Campbell, W. E. Bealmear, Harold Brotherton, Harold DeCanniere, Frances Wright, Earl Haney, W. D. Foster, Lawrence Braley, Glen Ingerson, Robert Payden and Duane Boddy.
The above names were recalled by memory and do not include many others who also worked for the McAllister firm.
Mr. Ralph N. McAllister was electrocuted June 1, 1949, when he came in contact with a 2,500 volt electric wire while attempting to remove it from the top of a delivery truck upon which it had fallen during a severe windstorm.
Since the McAllister firm closed, its buildings have been in use constantly. The Cimarron Supply Company, manufacturers of aluminum storm windows, occupied the large corner for several years before purchasing the old pipeline building so as to have larger quarters. It was then leased to the Washam Transfer Service for storage.
At press time for the Jubilee book, Walsworth Publishing Co., Inc., uses the back half for its second warehouse and the large, front room is rented by Ed and Fidelis Lohmar where they operate “Eddy’s,” rendezvous for Marceline’s teenage population.