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Grain Elevator Design Marks 100 Years
More than 100 years ago a Minnesota farmer, whose family and in-laws had immigrated from Luxembourg to the U.S., invented and patented the first elevator designed to move small grains. According to local newspaper accounts and the inventorís grandson, the device built by J.B. Majerus was a real worksaver because it used mechanical power to replace shovels, pails, sacks and manpower.
Records show that Majerus submitted his idea for patent in 1918 and received approval in 1920. Majerus used half of a blacksmith shop in Bellechester, Minn. to build his elevators while his son Richard used the other half to sell gas and repair automobiles. Majerus built his elevators in 24, 26, 28, 30 and 32-ft. lengths. The body of the hopper and the elevator platform were made from 20-ft. long boards and painted green and red. His blacksmith shop made some of the gears, chain and wheels and the business purchased other parts. He used a stencil to paint the brand name on back of the hopper.
Majerus and his sons marketed the elevator in much the same way equipment is marketed today. They towed some full sized models to county fairs in southeast Minnesota and built a 6-ft. long demonstration model for towing to locations further away. They took orders from interested customers and built them at Bellechester during the winter. In the spring, disassembled models were put on a trailer and delivered to nearby customers while other units were sent by rail to customers in the Dakotas and Montana.
Over the years Majerus had companies offer to buy his business and invention, but instead he chose to keep production in the tiny Goodhue County village so his sons and others had work. Production carried on there until the late 1930ís, when newer and taller granaries exceeded the engineering limitations of the Majerus models. Smaller farms continued using the Majerus elevator and even 40 years later, in 1976, a Millville, Minn. farmer operated one. Over the years 8 other patent applications for grain elevators have cited the Majerus design, one as recent as 2011.
A booklet about the historical grain elevator invention was recently donated to the Goodhue County Historical Society by J.B.ís grandson Doug Majerus.


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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1