Footprints in the Sugar
A History of the Great Western Sugar Company
written by Candy Hamilton

                                       Fond Memories
   

                            
                  

Upon selling-out the first printing of Footprints in the Sugar, I wrote/printed a booklet filled with memories from people who had purchased a copy of the book, as well as to those who had been kind enough to send me a memory by way of an email or phone call. The booklet was entitled "The Sugar Dust" and was sent to more than 500 recipients as a way to thank them for creating memories for John and I as we traveled and delivered books.

Below you will find a sampling of memories and comments. For privacy, the name of the person who submitted the comment has not been listed, nor have the proper names of any of the submitters' relatives. The two people I did site by name are ones I am comfortable mentioning on a publicly-accessed website.

I am a third-generation sugar beet grower and wanted Footprints in the Sugar to give to my sons to help explain their Volga German heritage and the sugar beet industry.
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My grandfather started for GWS in 1901 as Master Mechanic at the Loveland factory, after being transferred from the Grand Island, Nebraska, sugar factory after it was purchased and subsequently closed by GWS. In 1926, he was seriously injured and lost a leg when he tried to switch off the power on a runaway flywheel. The flywheel came loose and flew upwards of three stories before ending its trajectory.
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Sugar beets "made me an American" due to my German-Russian heritage. 
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Although I was a child of Germans from Russia, no German was spoken at home by my parents. I remember that during World War II many of the German-Russian families went "underground" to avoid the unwarranted prejudice toward them. Education was a priority in our home.
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My great-grandfather and grandfather were two very important men in the GW history. I cannot thank you enough for sending me the information about my great-grandfather. It means so much to me, you will never know. Thank you for sharing items you have gathered about our family history. We did not have either article in our family items. I know my Mom and Aunt will be so appreciative when they learn of everything you have written.
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You are contributing information on ethnic groups that I have never seen in one place. What you are trying to do is paint a much broader picture than just corporate history...I consulted my wife on the issue of your title, Footprints in the Sugar. She loves it and says it communicates both people history as well as corporate history. I love your book. It makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of what was the state's largest industry. I appreciate its organization, including the biographies of the individuals that founded the Great Western Sugar Company...I loved the section of individual factories. I knew a lot about Loveland and Fort Collins, but little about the other factories. I have found no historical errors. - Kenneth Jessen, Colorado historian.author
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My wife gave me your book for my birthday. I really loved it and finished reading it this week. I spent 42+ years working for GW, Tate & Lyle, and then the Western Sugar Cooperative. I can't tell you how many things I learned from your book. I will always cherish it and sure I'll read it again from time to time. In the section concerning the Loveland factory you mentioned the vials of sugar that were sold. I happen to have two of them; they were packaged on October 28, 1901.
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My son is very interested in the heritage of our family because he is the fourth generation in Colorado and he embraces his heritage daily. He continually questions me about our heritage. I am sure he will be more grateful than you can possibly know to have your book and know more about his roots in the part of our wonderful state...We received your book. The chapter involving the Volga Russians was very precious to me and is the one that I read, re-read, and then went back to some passages and read again. It was like holding the hand and holding the heart of those people who are most precious in my life. Eventually my son and I will read the entire book but I hope that does not happen for a long time because our time lost between the covers is so wonderful.
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I am the daughter of a "definite" Sugar Tramp. I grew up in Holdrege, Bayard and Gering (Nebraska), Goodland (Kansas), and Denver and Loveland (Colorado) - my Dad's journey through GW-land! As children my brother and I would make bologna sandwiches (at my Dad's expense) for busloads of Mexican laborers, often times as many as 70 men. I am buying your book for my Dad's 88th birthday.
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I'm so excited about this book because my father worked for the Great Western for 30 years and my father-in-law also worked for 30 years. Your book will be my a gift for my father-in-law on his 90th birthday.
          
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This book brought back fond memories for me personally. My father was a "High Ten Grower" in the Eaton, Colorado, area in 1958 and 1960. I have his sugar bowls awarded by GW. Reading your book also brought back memories of visiting the Greeley factory to see my maternal grandmother at work as a chemist. I vividly remember the roar of the turbines that spun the sugar. Thank you for reviving those memories!
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My husband worked his entire career at GW from 1963, then at Western Sugar after Tate & Lyle purchased the company, until his retirement in 1998. I think it is wonderful that someone totally unrelated to the industry could take such an interest and do the detailed research you have done. I know it will be a real contribution to the education of many who now live here about the sugar industry and have no idea about its importance to the region.
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...When I was a little boy, my parents farmed in Western Nebraska, so I have very early experience of working the sugar beets with horses and hand chopping the beet leaves with beet knives. My Dad was even loading beets into beet trucks by hand labor with very large beet forks. I was only about 5 or 6 at the time, but I remember all the hand labor that was required in order to get to the beet dump. Both my father and grandfather worked in the GWS factories during the campaigns...I'm sure you know that the sugar beet industry here in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas was very instrumental in the immigration of many German-Russian farmers and workers coming to the U.S. during the late 1800s and early 1900s. How often I thank my people for having the courage to leave Russia and make the incredible journey with no guarantee of jobs, no shelter and not speaking a word of English; they were all very brave people.
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I am writing an article about a building where they housed German POWs here in Brighton...I read some of your chapter about the POWs. It was very interesting. I was surprised to learn we housed 589 prisoners here in Brighton...The information was fascinating. We have several people who remembered taking prisoners to their farm, including my husband. His mother made lunch for them and fed them in her kitchen. Both she and her husband spoke fluent German and enjoyed communicating with the soldiers. They had soldiers work in the sorghum which was a miserable job.
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I just finished reading Footprints in the Sugar. It is a fascinating tale with nostalgia and relationships formed over forty years in the sugar business on the agriculture side...At age ten I was assigned the task of thinning the blocks of beets left by a German-Russian woman using a long-handle hoe. I recall my brother and I forking seven tons of beets onto the bed of a 1939 Dodge truck and driving the truck to Sinnard station a mile north of our farm After weighing we were directed to the storage pile where we forked the beets off the truck. We repeated this act in the afternoon. Our father paid each of us twenty-five cents per ton.  Your history of GWS was a welcome story with pictures of many early pioneers and long-time employees. I read each page with interest and fond memories.
  
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...My father was a Sugar Tramp, joining the Company in 1930 as a steno in Lyman, Nebraska. He also served at Wheatland, Bayard, Ovid, Sterling and Fort Morgan. He served as cashier at his last three locations. He was employed over 40 years and then was a casualty of the Billy White era....I worked several summers in the sugar warehouse while in high school and several campaigns as a young man before entering the service in the 1950s. The book brought back a lot of memories and was a lot of fun to read. I wish my father could have seen it. Thank you for your efforts in putting this truly amazing publication together. It was given to me by my children for Christmas.
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I can't thank you enough for the book for my mother. It has been very therapeutic - she looks through it and starts laughing, telling stories about her experiences, including knowing quite a few of the people mentioned. She said "we looked just like that" (photo of German-Russian family) but said she would never wear a babushka, although her sisters did to keep their hair clean. Babies were placed in dresser drawers at the end of the beet rows (like a cradle). Thank you for your dedicated effort. Well done! I have been busy getting my mother situated in a senior living facility - a real challenge to get a "stubborn, elderly" German beet farmer's widow to accept such living!
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My Dad grew sugar beets for GWS and worked at the Windsor factory in the 1940s. My Mom topped her thumb while working in the beet fields at the age of thirteen. I worked for GWS in Johnstown after graduating from CSU and before going into the Air Force in 1961. My uncle helped build the Johnstown factory in 1926 and was still there when I worked at the factory in 1961. I have fond memories of hauling beet pulp for our cattle when I was still living at home. Many memories of GWS. To this day I still buy beet sugar instead of cane sugar whenever possible.
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Great Western was a good company to work for. Your book is a great tribute to the families of workers at GW. When I was a girl in Johnstown, I would get on my skates and go to the corner and meet my Dad every night when the factory whistle blew...My Dad always bought molasses candy home to me and always brought something home in his lunch bucket for me, like if he had snowballs he would save one for me because I always looked for something in his lunch box, Later he told me he would have liked to eat it all but knew I would be expecting something when I met him at the corner at night. We had a car with running boards and I would hop on them and Dad would put his arm around me tight and I would ride on the running boards all the way home...My husband also was a sugar shag at the Johnstown factory; he did samples and tests in the lab. We had just bought a new truck three days before it was announced the factory was closing - that was really a challenging time for us.
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As a young attorney repressenting Larimer County, Colorado, which had an interest in GWS due to the property taxes concerning the factory in Loveland, I participated in a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas having to do with the bankruptcy of GWS in the mid-1980s (Hunt brothers era of ownership of GWS). Most sad.
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I remember when young Billy White attended GWS board meetings with his father, William. I also recall that the Cruise Room in the Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver was a favorite meeting place for GWS people. I've read much and looked at many pictures in Footprints in the Sugar  - all of which triggered multitudes of memories. The depth of your research and its exposition is truly astonishing. Let me reiterate my thanks for "footprints."
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My grandfather moved in 1905 from Missouri as a young man and started farming in the Loveland area. I imagine he was one of the first farmers to raise sugar beets for the Loveland factory. I have a photo of him and several other growers recognized by Great Western as top growers (High Ten Growers). I also have a photo of him with a team of horses and wagon loaded with sugar beets, probably around 1920. It's fun looking back.
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I was a Canadian hired by Great Western as a controller. My family and I lived for two weeks in a room in the upper level of the Johnstown administration building until the Company could locate a place for us to live. I worked in almost every Colorado GWS factory.
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Your book will be a gift for an 87-year-old farmer who grew sugar beets for about 60 years. My father worked for him 30 of those years, then I took Dad's place and now continue to run the operation growing sugar beets. All on the same farm here in Johnstown, Colorado.
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Thank you for donating your book. It is a wonderful resource for researchers interested in the history of the Great Western Sugar Company and the people who worked in the sugar beet fields and factories. I especially liked the chapter than describes each of the factories and what remains of them today (Chapter Nine). I drive by the old Fort Collins GW site and the Andersonville neighborhood every day on my way to work. Your detailed chronologies and use of photographs and interesting facts, as well as your thorough documentation, make Footprints in the Sugar a most valuable addition to our collection. - Linda Meyer, CSU Libraries Archivist - Colorado Agricultural Archive
   
                                                                                                                                   

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