Few people realize that Minonk was once "chicken plucker to the world". Fred
Simater and his brother-in-law W. F. Priebe started the Minonk Produce Company
in 1884 and built it into one of the largest supplier of eggs and chicken
in the country. Being located at the intersection of the Illinois Central
and Santa Fe railroads enabled ice-packed poultry and eggs to be sent easily
back to the Eastern market as well as to the rest of the world. By 1910 up to
twenty-five carloads of poultry were being shipped daily.
The Minonk Produce Company was located on North Chestnut street at the present location of Minonk
Mr. Simater accumulated substantial wealth from his enterprise and his wealth
still has an effect on Minonk today. His daughter, Esther Simater Dye, inherited
her father's wealth. Upon her death in 1979 she left $3,000,000 for the
construction of a nursing home in Minonk. This action was in keeping with the
legacy of Mr. Simater who was generous with his wealth and was an active
civic leader in Minonk.
He served four terms as mayor, twenty-seven years as
a precinct committeeman and nine years as a member of the school board. Each
Christmas he would give dolls to all the little girls and bags of candy to all
the little boys in the community. His enterprising spirit and sense of civic
duty helped make Minonk a vibrant and growing community.