This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Funks seed corn

When I arrived in Rensselaer almost 40 years ago, there was a Funks Seeds based in Kentland. One of my acquaintances at the time, an accounting faculty member turned business manager of the college, left the college for this company and a few years later I recall that it was purchased by a larger company.

Last week I spent a day in Bloomington, Illinois and was surprised that there was a Funks seed business there as well and that it was not connected to the Funks at Kentland. Doing some quick research on the Internet (see here, here, and here), I found that the Funks Brothers Seed Company in Bloomington was much larger than the Funks from Kentland, and at one time was one of the big three. It faded in the 1970s when it was bought out by Ciba Geigy and when the Southern Corn Leaf Blight hit. Its hybrids lacked a genetic factor that would have protected from the blight. None of the Illinois Funks are still in the seed business, but one of the Kentland Funks still is, with Frontiersman.

 The reason I bumped into the Bloomington Funks was that I visited a gem and mineral museum that one of the Illinois Funks had assembled. The guide was very enthusiastic and was full of information and praise for the Funks. The museum claims to be the largest one man gem and mineral collection in the world.

In the entranceway are four windows on which slices of translucent gems and minerals are glued. When backlit, they are beautiful.
The museum is free and worth every bit of the cost of seeing it. If you like rocks, it is a must see in the Bloomington area.
The museum is southwest of Bloomington, very close to the Interstate 55 and historic route 66, which parallels the Interstate around Bloomington.

There is not a lot on the Internet about these seed companies. I noticed that the Newton County Historical Society has a museum or building along US 24. I hope that they will have the foresight to collect what they can of the story of the Funk Seed Co. (I could not find a web link.)

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