Tillotson Construction’s Giddings, Texas, elevator rose by 10 feet per day but then disappeared entirely

By Ronald Ahrens

The Fairmont Foods Co. elevator that Tillotson Construction Co. built in Giddings, Tex., around 1945 became the hub of a busy and diverse agricultural service, one that had started a decade earlier.

As part of its Giddings operation, Fairmont, of Omaha, Neb.–just like Tillotson Construction–ran the largest turkey dressing plant in the Southwest. Every year, over 200 carloads shipped from here for the Thanksgiving and Christmas markets. During other parts of the year, the dressing plant stayed busy with chickens destined for such grocery chains as Weingarten’s, which in 1951 had twenty-five stores in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Besides the poultry dressing, Fairmont processed eggs here and had a locker plant described as “huge” in the June 13, 1974 centennial edition of the Giddings Times & News. A hatchery and feed-mixing plant completed the operation.

On July 14, 1955, the Times & News carried the following item:

Fairmont Foods Co. has announced the sale of its feed mixing plant in Giddings to the Nutrena Mills, Inc., of Wichita Falls and Minneapolis, Minn.

Change of ownership will take place officially about July 15. Nutrena is one of the nation’s oldest and largest feed manufacturers. Nutrena feeds are distributed in a 24-state area from the Rocky Mountains to the Southeastern coast and from Canada to Mexico.

Fairmont Foods recently observed the 20th anniversary of their opening in Giddings. Fairmont officials emphasize that they will continue to serve their customers with the poultry processing plant.

The former site of the Fairmont Building has been paved over. Photo by Ray Kirchmeyer.

In 1966, Nutrena remodeled the offices. But few traces of the operation remain today. Tillotson’s Fairmont Building was demolished, and a bare parking lot is found at the site.

Special thanks to Ray Kirchmeyer for providing the photo and historical documents. 

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In 1945, William Osborn worked on Tillotson Construction’s elevator in Giddings, Texas

A Galveston seaside respite for the Osborns and Salroths in 1945

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Kristen muses: Now Mr. and Mrs. Salroth were on this trip, and Mr. Salroth must have worked with my grandfather on the Tillotson Construction Company’s elevator job, the Fairmont Building, in Giddings, Texas.

The first image shows, from left to right, my grandmother Alice Christofferson Osborn, my dad Gerald Osborn, and Emma Salroth.

The second image shows, also from left to right, an unknown man, my dad Gerald Osborn, my grandfather William Osborn, and Iver Salroth.

Finally, there’s the portrait of Gerald by himself.

♦ ♦ ♦

In an email to Kristen, Gerald Osborn recalls:

Emma Salroth was your grandma’s first cousin. Emma and Iver had been pretty close to my parents. They occasionally spent an evening playing pinochle together.

Iver was a carpenter and was in Texas with dad working on the project. Along with your grandma, Emma and I took the train to Giddings for a visit.

When we arrived they had locked Iver in the elevator’s headhouse as a prank so he wouldn’t be there to meet us.

Iver was a scrawny little guy with a heavy Swedish accent and a good sense of humor. He was fourteen years older than my dad. I don’t know of any other job they worked on together.

In 1945, William Osborn worked on Tillotson Construction’s elevator in Giddings, Texas

Map of Texas highlighting Lee CountyThis elevator at Giddings, Texas, called the Fairmont Building, is the only one I have pictures for that my grandfather built when he worked for Tillotson Construction Company of Omaha. It would have been built in 1944 and 1945, when my dad turned eleven years old. Dad went to visit my grandpa William Osborn at Galveston in the spring of 1945 during this project. — Kristen

Note: Nutrena bought Fairmont Foods’ plant in Giddings in 1955.