Bancroft News

Town once operated a puffed wheat plant


Mark Knight was the speaker at the Presbyterian Church this on 12-20. This week will be our Christmas program at 11 a.m. There will be no speaker.

Larry Martens was discharged from the hospital in Tulsa to Cornerstone Specialty Hospital in Muskogee, Okla., on Thursday of last week. He has progressed to opening his eyes on command and will be starting therapies shortly. His address is Larry Martens, Cornerstone Specialty Hospital, 351 40th St. Rm 8 Muskogee, OK. 74401.

Linda Perry’s family, Jason and Leslie Richie and family of Webster, the Alan Perrys of Lennox, and Vin and Melody Perry and family of Bancroft, all visited Sunday afternoon. Linda's grandson, Logan Richie was home from the Navy.

Janice White of Brookings came to spend the afternoon with her mother Rose Grothe last Saturday. They had supper together.


Three brothers, Conrad, Miles and George Wertz, with a great deal of ingenuity, started a short- term successful operation in bringing a wheat puffing plant into town. It all began when Conrad saw a similar machine in Sioux Falls and decided to build one in Bancroft. The machine would have three guns made from four-inch steam boiler flues, each 18 inches long. These would each hold on half pint of wheat.

In a book by Gary Lee Jerke,”A History of Bancroft,” he describes this in a little more detail. “Later at Melham the same principle was applied with a presto-lite tank holding five quarts of wheat which made 24 packages of breakfast food. This tank was on a stand under which were half kerosene and half gas burners giving off a big red flame. In the rear of the gun was a pressure gauge which would have to develop 240 pounds of pressure in eight minutes after which the steel door would be opened and the wheat would be shot out in puffed form onto a twenty-foot screen.”

The wheat plant was first located in the Dan Thompson Lumber building from 1935-36. They then thought of moving into the Billington Implement shop, but this would have been a bad location, according to barber Bill next door. Many a customer may well have left scarred from his shaving experience had that occurred.

Therefore, the wheat puffers, who sold a sack of puffed wheat for 50 cents, moved to the Melham store building where Oscar Forbes was the only remaining town resident and businessman until Melham's death in 1942. Eventually, the puffed wheat, which sold under the name of “New Deal,” was turned over to the K & K store of De Smet. And so ended another Bancroft business.


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