Houston Sweetser (1881-1961)


Sweetser was half of the feed and grain supply company Young-Sweetser Company from the 1920’s which later became Farm and Tack Supply in the 1980’s. It is noted for the Purina Grain Tower which marks the Fredericksburg skyline.  Before this he and Young worked on a bedding manufacturing concern which had been destroyed by fire before World War I.

With Edgar Young, they built the warehouse in 1919 and added the grain elevator in 1920. The company provided an active market for the products of farmers in surrounding counties. They bought from farmers and after weighing sorting, storing and bagging  shipped the products to major manufacturers. All forms of transportation were used – rail, trucks and river barges. The volume of the products handled were large for the time  – often two boxcars were shipped out per day.

Sweetser came to Fredericksburg in 1904 (or 1906) from Wabash, Indiania to sell Singer sewing machines. Sweetser was not originally an Episcopalian but was hired to sing in the choir due to his vocal prowess.  Among the choir members was Mary Moncure who later became his wife in 1913.  They lost their only child Mary Knox in infancy and adopted and reared Robert C. Moore , son of her deceased sister Alice. Sweetser sang in the choir under 1956, completing 50 years of service.  He was presented an engraved gold tie upon his retirement.

Sweetser served on St. George’s Vestry for 33 years and was superintendent of Sunday School  being succeeded by Elsie Lewis. He was active in many community groups – president of the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Past Master of the Masonic Lodge (treasurer for 40 years) and treasurer of the Fredericksburg Fair.  Finally he helped to form the Fredericksburg Savings in Loan Association in 1922 and also served as its president.  At his death he was the only original member on the Board still serving.

The Sweetser estate provided $1,000 for lighting which was installed in 1976.