Iowan Frank Nine recalls working for Tillotson Construction in the mid-1950s

This photo showing the aftermath of a grain dryer explosion at the Boxholm elevator was uploaded to KCCI by u local contributor hmuench.

This 2009 photo showing the aftermath of a grain dryer explosion at Tillotson’s Boxholm elevator was uploaded to KCCI by u local contributor hmuench.

The following two-part memoir was recently written by Frank Nine, who worked for Tillotson Construction Company in 1954 and 1955 and now lives near Sedalia, Missouri:

I first worked for Tillotson in Dayton, Iowa. Jay Wiser was superviser. We finished there and moved to Bancroft, Iowa, and finished late-fall 1954.

Frank Nine is seen in this recent photo.

Frank Nine, in a recent photo.

Early 1955 we started the Boxholm elevator, where I was from. G.T. Christensen, Jay Wiser, and I became friends and often hung out together when not working. I attended George’s funeral. I was 19 at the time. We went to Dallas Center, Iowa. George’s wife and family [lived] for some time in Boxholm. I later helped her with some minor repair, etc, on their trailerhouse. The children were very young then.

I am now 77 years old.

♦ ♦ ♦

I started out on the tractor-loader filling the hopper for the cement mixer. Some as carpenter helper, on-deck pouring cement, and most of time wherever needed. This was in Dayton, Iowa.

Jay Wiser’s brother–Bud is what they called him, I think Harold was his name–was foreman or boss.

Then we moved to Bancroft, Iowa, where Jay was supervisor, his brother Jesse was a foreman, and George T. Christensen was also.

I worked with Bobby Wheeler and his brother Billy. (I think that was his name.) Also with Jerry Gustafson and his dad and a man they called Cowboy. I think Carlson was his last name.

Bobby and I were friends and hung out often. Jerry and I did the same.

We finished job October-November 1954. Early 1955 we started the job in Boxholm, Iowa, where I met Jim Sheets, and we became friends. I worked the master jacks and run jack crew. Later on, finished cement with Jim–among other jobs as needed. This is where George, Jay, and an old welder, Jesse, became friends.

Bobby, Jerry, Jim, George, Jay, Jesse, and others hung out often. We lost George this year.

3 comments on “Iowan Frank Nine recalls working for Tillotson Construction in the mid-1950s

  1. Frank Nine says:

    I can’t believe it has been 61 years ago that I started working for Tillotson. It seems like yesterday and was some of the best times of my life. Thanks Frank

    • Terry Christensen says:

      Hello Frank hope you are doing well!! My Dad was George T Christensen and he died when I was 4 in Boxholm!!! We moved to Oklahoma in 1958 where my mother’s folks lived. It was so nice to read your post that mentioned my Dad and my cousins Bobby and Billy Wheeler!! Also Jay Wiser and Jim Sheets as I heard my Mom mention them!! I wish Dad would have lived longer so I could have seen what he did and knew more about the elevator building process!!! It astounds me all that they did 63 years ago!! So many cubic yards of concrete and tons of steel and the size of those tanks and pulleys and belts and pits!!!! WOW!!!! I would love to hear from you anytime!! Thanks again for sharing your story about my Dad and cousins

      • Frank Nine says:

        Terry, So glad to hear from you. I thought a lot of your mom & dad. I remember going to the hospital with your dad to see your mom when 1 of you were born in 1954. I was 19 at that time,we were working in Bancroft IA. I worked with your dad in Boxholm IA. 1955. Went to his service, I was so sad &sorry. I spent some time helping your mom with minor trailer repairs & you kids. I will be 83 in Oct.
        remember it very well. My phone is 660 826 7848 my email is

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