ELWYN B. ROBINSON DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
CHESTER FRITZ LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA 58202

NASH FINCH COMPANY RECORDS

COLLECTION: OGL #1246

DATES: 1919-1971

SIZE: 6.5 linear feet

INTRODUCTION

ACQUISITION: The Nash Finch Company Records were deposited in the Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection by Robert Nash, Vice President and Treasurer, Nash Finch Company, on January 10, 1992 (Acc. #92-1796).

ACCESS: Available for inspection under the rules and regulations of the Department of Special Collections.

HISTORICAL SKETCH

The Nash Finch Company began as a small family-owned retail business in rural North Dakota. In 1885, Fred Nash, with his brothers Edgar and Willis as partners, established a small confectionery and tobacco store in Devils Lake, North Dakota. A year later, the brothers expanded their business to include retail fruit and opened another fruit store in Devils Lake and one in Park River. After fire destroyed the original store in 1887, they relocated to Grand Forks.

Although the company was primarily involved in retail sales, by the time it moved to Grand Forks, the brothers had begun to sell surplus goods to other retailers. When, in 1889, a unique opportunity presented itself, the brothers were quick to expand into wholesaling. After a railroad car of peaches arrived in Grand Forks with no buyer, the brothers secured a loan to purchase the peaches and thus began the Nash Brothers wholesale business. By 1891, Nash Brothers company business was entirely wholesale and included fruits and other grocer lines.

Edgar Nash served as vice-president and manager of the Grand Forks store. After contracting tuberculosis in 1889, however, he moved to California upon his physician's recommendation. There, Edgar acted as the company's western representative, purchasing fruit and shipping it to Grand Forks for distribution. Edgar Nash died in 1896.

After Edgar left for California, the company hired its first non-family employee, Harry B. Finch. Hired initially to handle and clean fruit, Finch quickly assumed greater responsibilities in the company. In 1896, Finch became the manager of Nash Brothers first acquisition outside of North Dakota, Smith Wholesale Company of Crookston, Minnesota.

The company's second major acquisition came in 1904 when it bought the Minot Grocery Company. Nash Brothers devised an innovative scheme to realize the purchase. By reducing its credit terms with retail customers from twelve to six months, the company freed enough cash to buy the Minot Grocery. Finch was placed in charge of this company and also of the Grand Forks Mercantile Company, acquired in 1905, to bolster Nash Brothers operation as a full-line grocery and fruit brokerage. That same year, Nash Brothers formed a partnership with another Grand Forks produce brokerage, C.H. Robinson Company, and Finch was named its vice-president. In 1913, two years after Robinson's unexplained disappearance, Nash Brothers purchased controlling interest in C.H. Robinson Company.

Expansion of Nash Brothers during the early years of its existence was financed in part by employee ownership. Nash Brothers was one of the first companies to provide its employees with an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Established in 1908, the plan enabled employees to invest in their company. The company, in turn, retained the right of first purchase when employees sold their stock. Although many company ESOP's failed during the Depression, that of Nash Finch continued to operate until World War II.

From 1907 to 1919, Nash Brothers enlarged their holding in the northwestern United States and parts of Canada by building or purchasing fifty-four fruit houses as well as related marketing, shipping, and grocery companies. For instance, in 1916 the company purchased the Caldwell Company, a coffee importer and provider of Nash Brothers "No-Vary Coffee." Fred Nash was president of the Nash Coffee Company until his death in 1926. He was succeeded by Harry Finch. Nash Coffee Company remained a subsidiary of the Nash empire until it was sold to the Otis McCallister Company of San Francisco in 1959.

By 1919, Nash Brothers had expanded its business holdings and territory to such an extent that the company thought it necessary to move its headquarters to a location more accessible to the nation's fresh fruit and grocery markets. On November 13, 1919, Nash Brothers closed its Grand Forks offices and moved to Minneapolis, a rapidly growing urban and regional distribution center.

In 1921, to take advantage of the state's flexible laws, Nash Finch was incorporated in Delaware. Consolidation formed two corporations, Nash Finch Company and Nash-Simington Ltd. of Canada, but did not include the subsidiary of the C.H. Robinson Company, which remained the operation's shipping and brokerage arm. Fred P. Nash was Nash Finch's first president and Willis K. Nash the company's first treasurer. Willis was also president of the Nash Company, incorporated in 1919 to hold company stock for the Nash family. He served as Nash Company's president from 1926 to 1930, chairman of the board from 1930 to 1940, and vice-president from 1940 until his death in 1956 at age 87.

Harry Finch was named president of Nash Shareholders, incorporated in North Dakota in 1922 as Nash Finch's investment division. It ceased operations in 1937 when Merchant Finance Company assumed total responsibility for company investments. Merchant Finance was established in 1932 to assist those independent retailers, with whom Nash Finch dealt, in their capital investment pursuits during the Depression. Also in 1932, Nash Finch sold its Canadian business interests. That sale freed enough capital to buy the company during the Depression. Moreover, Nash Finch was able to buy out competitors and establish a private store brand, "Our Family."

Finch succeeded Fred Nash as president after Nash's death in 1926 at age 66. Finch became chairman of the board in 1929 when W.E. Dietz was named president. Finch resumed the presidency in 1932. In 1939, Finch was named again as the company's chairman of the board and served in that capacity until 1953. Harold Finch, son of Harry Finch, was president of Nash Finch from 1939 through 1961, when he was appointed chairman of the board, a position he held until 1967. His son, Harold B. Finch Jr., was elected president in 1978 and chairman of the board in 1985.

In addition to its notable business ventures, the Nash Finch Company has a distinguished history of philanthropic activities. Chief among these was the Helping Hand Society, established in 1922 to "care for the sick, aged, and disabled, ministering to the needs of the poor, and for the advancement of promotion of charitable aims." In 1931, the society was renamed the Nash Foundation. Since then, foundation monies have aided employees, provided scholarship, and supported other charitable causes.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

The Nash Finch Company Collection consists primarily of financial records related to the Nash Brothers Company, the Nash Company, the Nash Shareholders Company, the Caldwell Importing Company, the Nash Coffee Company, and the Nash Foundation. Financial documents include articles of incorporation, ledgers, stock certificates, vouchers, and income tax records. Board minutes augment the financial records by providing some insight into company strategies, however, most minutes are summaries of annual meetings. Correspondence is scarce. Letters contained in the collection related to the U.S. Treasury Department (1919-1920), income tax issues (1929-1935), and company liquidation issues (1961-1963). Also included are Nash family documents, which consist of wills, estate records, and genealogy. The collection is arranged in three series.

SERIES I: Financial
This comprises the bulk of the collection and consists of documents related to Nash family business enterprises. Included are records of the Nash Brothers Company, the Nash Company, the Nash Shareholders Company, and the Caldwell Coffee Company. Major portions of this series are income tax records (1919-1955) and Nash Shareholders Company vouchers (1935- 1942). Folders containing tax records and vouchers are arranged chronologically.

SERIES II: Nash Family Philanthropy
Consisting of documents related to Nash family philanthropy, it also includes records of the Nash Foundation. The majority of these records are general ledgers (1953-1970) and board minutes (1923-1950).

SERIES III: Nash Family Genealogy
This series consists of Nash family records. These records include a photocopy of Fred P. Nash's will dated March 30, 1926; estate papers of Lillian P. Nash dated 1966; Nash family cemetery lot records, dated 1910, 1968, and 1969; and the Nash family genealogy dated September 1970.

BOX AND FOLDER INVENTORY

Box 1
Folder

SERIES I: Financial

1. Nash Brothers Company annual meetings 1920-1926
2. Nash Company articles of incorporation, July 18, 1919
3. Nash Company amendments to incorporation articles, 1925-1937, 1964
4. Nash Company by-laws (not dated) and amendments to incorporation articles, 1935-1969
5. Foreign Corporation Certificates, 1935-1971
6. Nash Company Board of Directors minutes, July 24, 1919 to June 11, 1945
7. Nash Company shareholders’ meetings minutes, July 24, 1919 to January 23, 1969
8. Nash Company stock certificates, numbers 1-100
9. Nash Company stock certificates, numbers 101-208

Box 2
Folder

1. Nash Company stock certificates, numbers 209-304
2. Nash Company stock certificates, numbers 307-408
3. Nash Company income tax returns, 1919
4. Nash Company income tax returns, 1920
5. Nash Company income tax returns, 1921
6. Nash Company income tax returns, 1922
7. Nash Company income tax returns, 1923
8. Nash Company income tax returns, 1924
9. Nash Company income tax returns, 1925
10. Nash Company income tax returns, 1926
11. Nash Company income tax returns, 1927
12. Nash Company income tax returns, 1928
13. Nash Company income tax returns, 1929
14. Nash Company income tax returns, 1930
15. Nash Company income tax returns, 1931
16. Nash Company income tax returns, 1932
17. Nash Company income tax returns, 1933
18. Nash Company income tax returns, 1934
19. Nash Company correspondence with Minnesota Tax Commission, 1929-1934
20. Nash Company income tax returns, 1935
21. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to appeal of federal income taxes, 1934-1935
22. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to appeal of Minnesota income taxes, 1934-1935
23. Nash Company income tax returns, 1936
24. Nash Company income tax returns, 1937
25. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to appeal of Minnesota income taxes, 1936-1937
26. Nash Company income tax returns, 1937
27. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1938
28. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1938
29. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1939
30. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1939
31. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1940
32. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1940

Box 3
Folder

1. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1941
2. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1941
3. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1942
4. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1942
5. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1943
6. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1943
7. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1944
8. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1944
9. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1945
10. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1945
11. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1946
12. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1946
13. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1947
14. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1947
15. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1948
16. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1948
17. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1949
18. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1949
19. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1950
20. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1950
21. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1951
22. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1951
23. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1952
24. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1952
25. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1953
26. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1953
27. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1954
28. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1954
29. Nash Company federal income tax returns, 1955
30. Nash Company Minnesota income tax returns, 1955
31. Nash Company documents pertaining to partial liquidation, 1958-1961
32. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to partial liquidation, 1958-1961
33. Nash Company letter to stockholders pertaining to partial liquidation, 1962
34. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to partial liquidation, 1961-1963
35. Nash Company letters to stockholders pertaining to partial liquidation 1964-1965
36. Nash Company shareholders’ holding and distribution, 1964
37. Nash Company documents pertaining to partial liquidation, 1964
38. Nash Company correspondence pertaining to revocable trusts after partial liquidation, 1964
39. Nash Company federal and Minnesota income tax returns, 1964-1965
40. Nash Company federal and Minnesota income tax returns, 1966-1968
41. Nash Company federal income tax refunds, 1964-1970
42. Nash Company federal and Minnesota gross distribution tax forms, 1969
43. Nash Company federal and Minnesota gross distribution tax forms, 1970-1971
44. Nash Company Minnesota employers quarterly tax returns, 1962-1969
45. Nash Company withholding statements and payroll ledger sheets, 1969-1971

Box 4
Folder

1. Nash Company federal and Minnesota income tax returns, 1969-1971
2. Nash Company annual report (1969) and annual reports to Minnesota of foreign corporations, 1969-1970
3. Nash Company pension plan documents, 1962-1968
4. Nash Company pension plan documents, 1970-1974
5. Nash Company merger with Nash Finch Company June 21, 1971
6. Caldwell Importing Company by-laws and minutes (1920-1924) and Nash Coffee Company minutes (1924-1933)
7. Nash Shareholders Company articles of incorporation (21922) and correspondence (1925-1935)
8. Nash Shareholders Company correspondence, 1933-1941
9. Nash Shareholders Company minutes, 1922-1935
10. Nash Shareholders Company by-laws and minutes 1922-1937

Box 5
Folder

1. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, March-April 1935
2. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, May 1935
3. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, May-June 1935
4. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, May-June 1935
5. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, July 1935
6. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, July 1935
7. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, July 1935
8. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, August 1935
9. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, August 1935
10. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, September 1935
11. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, September 1935
12. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, September 1935
13. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, October 1935
14. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, October 1935
15. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, November 1935
16. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, November 1935
17. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1936
18. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1937
19. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1938-1939
20. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1940
21. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1941
22. Nash Shareholders Company vouchers, 1942

SERIES II: Nash Family Philanthropy

23. Nash Foundation and Helping Hand Society minutes, 1923, 1934
24. Nash Foundation and Helping Hand Society minutes, 1935-1950
25. Nash Foundation general ledger, January 1, 1953-December 31, 1965

Box 6
Folder

1. Nash Foundation general ledger, January 1, 1966-July 31, 1970

SERIES III: Nash Family Genealogy

2. Nash family genealogy, September 15, 1970
3. Fred P. Nash will and trusteeship papers, March 30, 1926
4. Lillian P. Comings estate (1965-1966) and Marie S. Nash trust (1937)
5. Nash family cemetery plot records, 1910, 1968-1969


See the following additions for the corresponding years

 1: 1911-1979  2: 1893-1991  3: 1890-1926
 4: 1849-1878  5: 1897-1977  6: 1990-1995
 7: 1865-1905  8: 1880s-1995  9: 1889-1994
 10: 1846?  11: undated  

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