Corn Canning Factory

A corn canning factory was located on Clyo Road just north of the Centerville Mill/Ace Hardware.  Glenwood Weidle worked there in the 1920s during his high school years doing a variety of jobs.  He described the process in A Mnemonic Interval interview in 1993. 

The farmers brought their wagons to the factory loaded with corn and they were often lined up down the road for a half mile.  There were several buildings used in the process.  A large one housed the main equipment like the huskers and the cutter.  The corn was dumped into the pit which took it up to the husking machine on conveyor belts.  There were a half dozen husking machines and Mr. Weidle remembers that they could be dangerous and the workers had to be cautious not to get their fingers in the way.

After the corn was husked it dropped down to another bin where about fifteen ladies cleaned the corn, took off the silk and removed any worms.  Another conveyor belt took the corn to the top floor where it went to the cutter machine.  After the corn was cut off it dropped down to the mixing level.

It finally went down to a machine that filled the cans and capped them.  There were big metal vats that held two or three hundred cans at a time and they went into a cooker to cook the corn.  When the cans of corn were cooled they ran through the labeling machine, and then the corn was boxed and put into freight cars.  The boxes themselves had to be put together as well, making the factory a good source of income for a lot of people. 

There was quite an odor about the place, Mr. Weidle remembers, from the husks and cobs that were leftover.  A stack 25 or 30 feet across and 20 feet high developed by the time the season was over.  It was all given to the farmers to use for silage or fertilizer.

Mr. Weidle remembered that a family named Harding owned the canning factory, as well as, factories in South Lebanon and others south of town.  However, according to "A History of the Canning Industry," in a 1914 publication of the 7th Convention of the National Canners and Allied Associations, J.M. Hayner who owned a farm near South Lebanon started canning operations in 1878 and was still in operation at the time of the publication.  It is possible that Hayner's company was still running factories in the 1920s and was the owner of Centerville's canning factory.  The corn canning factory closed down with the Great Depression.