Discovery of signs hatches questions about hatchery
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Jan and Rick Elliott were cleaning out a rental house that they recently purchased at 1127 Broadway when they made an interesting discovery.
In the attic of the house they found two signs for Whitten Hatchery, an Imperial business opened in 1940.
The tin signs were transported to McCook, the site of the original Whitten Hatchery, by the railroad.
The owners of the McCook hatchery reportedly opened the Imperial branch in the building currently owned by Don Maucher on Broadway.
The building now houses Don’s Barber Shop.
The Imperial store was run by their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon McMullen.
Maucher said they lived in an apartment behind the store, which allowed him to do the same when he purchased the building from the Whittens in 1969.
A 1940 Imperial Republican news article located by local historian Charley Colton stated that an open house for the Whitten Hatchery was held Feb. 16 “and served approximately 1,000 people coffee and doughnuts.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Whitten of McCook and Mr. Adams of the Crete Mills were also present. Mrs. Watson from Whitten’s Cambridge Hatchery assisted.”
The Elliotts have no idea how the signs ended up in their house. They also found a paper with two names signed to it tacked to the floor when they began ripping up carpet in the rental house.
They are hoping that the names will provide a clue. People with information about Ernest Ruby or Bob Petersen and the date May 15, 1969 may contact the Elliotts.