Sioux City, situated as it is, on the convex side of the Missouri River, on its first great bend north of Kansas City, the waters of that great river flow toward it from an almost due westerly course for 150 miles, when they turn southward, while smaller streams flow toward it from the north and east. Its location thus seems to have been designed by nature as the natural spot for the great metropolis of the Upper Missouri, and the commerce of this rapidly growing empire flows as naturally toward this point as the waters have for ages. The natural advantages of this location for a commercial center, were seen and fully appreciated by the enterprising, intelligent men who selected it for a city, and they not only laid it out on a grand scale for substantial business blocks and stately residences, but they worked to bring to the aid of its natural resources all the helps that the artificial arteries of commerce can command.

It’s commanding geographical position, coupled with its eight lines of railroad and might river, has made it the distributing point for Dakota and Nebraska. All the supplies for the vast territory to the north and westward are necessarily handled by the railroads centering here, and the business thus brought to her very doors has contributed not a little to the upbuilding of the city, as it necessitated the erection of warehouse and the investment of capital in the wholesale and distributing business. The following table, prepared by the Secretary of the Board of Trade, will give some idea of the extent and character of this business during the year 1881:

Type of BusinessNo. EmployeesWages paidGross sales
General Merchandise320$148,225$4,541,304
Grain1815,500549,322
Hides, Tallow and Furs106,000654,000
Wood and Coal165,000188,000
Lumber2312,400375,000
Agricultural Implements, etc.25300170,000
Total412$197,425$6,477,626

These figures can be accepted as being as nearly correct as it is possible to give them, and if they err at all it is in being too small, and that they are too small is clearly indicated by the amount of exchange sold by our three banks during the past year, as per figures furnished, which was $10,256,127.02.

Especially is this true of grain, as one firm, during the period covered by this table, purchased 600,000 bushels of wheat alone, and the shipments of corn and oats to the up-river military posts amounted to 15,000,000 pounds. The general merchandise sales of the city during the same year reached the gratifying total of 4,500,000 of dollars. Of this amount $1,456,000 was sold by the three wholesale dry goods houses, and about $100,000 in round numbers by the two wholesale grocery establishments. Of the other lines of trade engaged in the distribution business, of the magnitude of whose operations no definite figures can be given, may be mentioned:

The Standard Oil Company has put in tanks and a warehouse, whence illuminating and lubricating oil is distributed all over this part of the northwest.

The firms of F.H. Peavey & Co., H.G. Wyckoff, Booge Bros., and Knud Sunde send out coal, lime and plaster by the ton, carload or single barrel.

Two wholesale grocery houses, E.C. Palmer & Co., and Tackaberry, Van Keuren & Floyd, represent their line. One of the firms stated that its business in 1881 amounted to over $500,000, and the other refused to give figures.

The wholesale drug business is carried on by John Hornick and Joseph Marks.

The cracker factory of Goodwin & Mosseau employs seven men, and has a trade extending throughout the Northwest.

In the wholesale saddlery hardware line there are J.M. McConnell & Co. and L. Humbert.

Dry goods and notions are wholesaled by Tootle, Livingston & Co. and by Jandt & Tompkins.

The jobbing of hardware is conducted by Peavey Bros. and Geowey & Co., the former firm selling only at wholesale.

Agricultural implements are sold in lots to dealers by Peavey Bros., W. L. Wilkins and Cottrell, Bruce & Co.

The shipping of grain is the specialty of F.H. Peavey & Co. and Davis & Wann, and is one of the lines of John H. Charles and Jas. E. Booge & Co.

The northwestern distributing point is at Sioux City for the Singer Sewing Machines, for which A.P. Provost is the agent; the American Sewing Machines, represented by W.W. Griggs, and for Kimball’s musical instruments, for which Arthur Hubbard is general agent.

During 1881, Smith & Farr built an extensive butter and egg-packing establishment, costing $20,000, which the growth of the trade in this produce imperatively demanded.

Oberne, Hosick & Co., of Chicago, have a branch house established here, which makes a specialty of hides and wool, and whose operations extend to the British Possessions.

Pinckney & Co., beside their retail book and stationery business, keep several men on the road selling their wares.

J.K. Prugh, in connection with his retail crockery and queensware trade, devotes some attention to the wholesale line of his business.

Beside these, three banks, two of which are national banks, two express offices and the post office handle the currency used in the business of a wide extent of country. Numerous firms and individuals, who do not figure before the public as being in the wholesale trade, are, by force of circumstances compelled to sell goods in job lots to out-of-town customers. Thus a number of our clothing merchants supply surrounding country stores, grocers send out shipments to dealers all the way between the city and Deadwood, and lumber dealers ship small lots and entire car lots to small dealers out of the city. By numberless channels the goods brought in bulk to this city are distributed, and the produce of the country collected and forwarded. Much of this business has not been cultivated, but has come to the city unasked. The need of more wholesale houses is the crying need of the city. The field is large, and the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers comparatively few.