By Jessica Crabtree
The rural town of Henrietta is the county seat of Clay County. Boasting a population of more than 3,000 people, the majority of its residents are made up of farmers and ranchers or decedents thereof. With the foundation based around pioneers settling the territory, famers growing crops and ranchers raising cattle, the rural town has gained recognition for its agricultural prominence and for the town’s feed mill known as Kerr Feed & Grain.
A multi-generation operation, Kerr Feed & Grain was the brain child of Louis Wilton Kerr, Sr., a Clay County native hailing from Joy, Texas. As a young man his interests were in agriculture, which shifted specifically to feed. In 1930 Kerr purchased the Cash Feed Store on Main Street in downtown Henrietta where he sold coal, wood, feed, and farm supplies to locals. That location was moved in 1934 to Bridge Street when Kerr started selling groceries. Two years later in 1936 Kerr purchased 30 acres to the east known as the Worsham on East Omega, offering Ful-O-Pep feed and farming supplies to the public as well as livestock hauling. There, Kerr Feed & Grain found its permanent home.
In 1948 Kerr’s son Louis Wilton Kerr, Jr., returned home from the U.S. Navy, and a partnership between the father and son was formed, renaming Cash Feed Store to Kerr Feed and Grain. With the addition of his son, the father-son duo worked great lengths, 10 and 12-hour days, to build grain elevators for storage to accommodate local wheat farmers.
The 1950s saw the Kerr family manufacturing a complete line of livestock and poultry feed under a private name and label. That addition increased service and advanced Kerr Feed and Grain’s customer base to a radius within 100 miles of Henrietta, especially during the 60s and 70s for local dairies.
The patriarch, Louis Wilton Kerr, Sr., passed away in 1968, leaving his son Wilton to manage Kerr Feed and Grain. During that time, Kerr Feed and Grain developed and grew into a full-line feed manufacturer and retailer with multiple employees and a small dealer network. Once Louis Wilton Kerr, Jr., passed away in 1999, his son-in-law’s Bill Bryant and Jeff Fitts, stepped into the managing role, although they had been working with their father-in-law many years, milling, marketing and developing relations with customers.
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