Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Munn & Scott
Munn & Scott

Munn & Scott

This grain-warehousing company traced its origins to a company founded in 1844 in Spring Bay, Illinois, north of Peoria. By 1856, Ira Y. Munn and his partners owned a large Chicago grain elevator with a capacity of 200,000 bushels. Two years later, George L. Scott joined the enterprise, which changed its name from Munn, Gill & Co. to Munn & Scott. By the end of the Civil War, the company owned four Chicago grain elevators with a total capacity of 2.3 million bushels, nearly a third of the total capacity of all of the city's large elevators. By this time, Munn had already served as president of the Chicago Board of Trade. Annual revenues reached about $4 million in 1867; by 1870, the company still ranked as the city's leading warehouser of grain. Munn rapidly declined during the early 1870s. In 1872, speculative transactions in the grain market had bankrupted the company, which sold many of its assets to George Armour, another leading elevator operator. In the same year, Munn & Scott was charged with violating new Illinois regulations that enabled the state to inspect and regulate the elevators. Munn and his company achieved their most lasting fame in 1876–77, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Munn's argument that the state had no right to regulate privately owned enterprises such as grain elevators.