Jersey Cereal Food Company stock certificate 1919 (Pennsylvania)
Rare piece! Great vignette of the company's cereal factory. Issued and not cancelled. Dated 1919. Comes with original company envelope as shown.
The Jersey Cereal Food Co. was organized in North Huntingdon in 1903 with $200,000 capital for the manufacture and distribution of a breakfast cereal called "Jersey Flake." A three-story brick building was erected about a mile south of Irwin near Hahntown at what became known as Cereal, Pa., production began the following year.
The first company president was John Kerr. He was soon followed by Chester D. Sensenich as president with Frank A. Farmer, treasurer, and R.J. Foster, secretary and manager. The plant burned down in 1906 and was replaced by a larger one in 1907. It was further expanded in 1908 and 1912 with a power plant added in 1920. Jersey Corn Flakes and Wheat Flakes, along with some related products, were manufactured in the four-story, 400-foot-long facility. The Jersey Cereal Food Co. was a very successful operation. At one time, it was the largest cereal manufacturing company in Pennsylvania an its products were sold throughout the country.
After World War I, the cereal company expanded into several unrelated businesses. For some time, a candy factory operated on the fourth floor. It produced molded chocolate Christmas candy with crushed cereal in it, and was remembered mainly because the broken candy was sold to local children. The company also tried raising hogs and pedigree dogs, as well as drilling for gas. Gas from one of their gas wells leaked into a local coal mine, and had to be sealed with cement.
In 1919, a change in majority ownership was followed by a disastrous stock selling campaign, resulting in the financial failure of the company and a loss of money by many local residents. In July 1922, at the request of some creditors and stockholders, Jersey Cereal Food Co. was placed in the hands of a receiver after an involuntary petition for bankruptcy. Plans to cut expenses and return the company to profitability didn't succeed. On Feb. 2, 1923, the land and plant were sold to a new company formed by a stockholders' executive committee. The officers were Dr. R.P. McClelland, president; J.K. Love, vice president; J.A. Jones, secretary and treasurer; and Charles E. Luke, factory manager. The new firm was called the Jersey Cereal Co. with the word "Food" dropped from the original name.
During the 1930s, the company employed about 200 normally, and in peak seasons the number of workers rose to 300. Many of the employees lived close enough to walk to work; others carpooled from Irwin. The company opened a second production facility at St. Joseph, Mo., in 1935. Two years later, the firm's headquarters were moved to Chicago. By 1939, the company was manufacturing six popular products: Jersey Corn; Wheat, Rice and Bran Flakes; Jersey Rice; and Wheat Puffs. In addition to the company's own brands, it also manufactured an extensive line of private brands for other distributors. The Jersey Cereal products were known nationally for their quality, flavor and exceptional value.
By the late 1940s, production ceased and the last box of cereal was packaged at the plant.