Stone-Ordean-Wells (through 1910)

Stone-Ordean-Welles. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

The Stone-Ordean-Wells Company has developed to the fullest in the conduct of a business that was rooted in small but satisfactory beginnings and which has been expanded until it is equal to any in the wholesale grocery line in the Northwest.

The louse occupies the largest and most modern grocery plant in the Northwest and has exceptional opportunities for making the most of the advantage it has in receiving its supplies from ship-bottom into its own warehouses and shipping them out by the mere loading of cars on tracks running past its doors.

Very often the cars are loaded out directly from the ships.

In point of age the Stone-Ordean-Wells Company goes back to the very beginnings of trade at the head of the lake. It has equipped and sent forth men at various periods to engage in business on their own account until former associates of the house are included in the roster of many of the most prosperous houses in Duluth. For years after its establishment the house exploited virgin territory without much opposition, for it was the pioneer in its field.

William R. Stone, president of the house, founded the business in 1872. Later A. L. Ordean, president of the First National Bank of Duluth, became a partner of Mr. Stone and the firm style was Stone & Ordean. Nineteen years ago F. A. Patrick, now at the head of the dry goods house which bears his name, went into the house and became its general manager, the firm then being known as the Stone-Ordean Company. In 1896 the house absorbed the only other wholesale grocery concern in the city- Wells-Stone Company-and the consolidated company assumed the present title and entered upon the broader career which it has followed since.

The name of the house and its products are known to every grocery dealer between Michigan and Idaho. A big force of salesmen cover the territory and the annual business of the house is larger than that of any grocery jobbing house west of Chicago.

The development of this business has been brought about by accepting all the opportunities presented for making the most of a great location-and it may be fairly said that no grocery jobbing and importing house in the world has such facilities as has the Stone-Ordean-Wells Company for handling a great volume of trade. In the enormous plant, which is at once in the heart of the railroad district with ample dock facilities, there is vast activity at all times of the year. The manufacturing department is extensive in proportion to the trade and the demand for the brand of goods which the Stone-Ordean-Wells Company makes—”Nokomis Brand”—has grown to such an extent that the manufacturing department would of itself be a very large business enterprise.

When the company went into manufacturing those package grocery products which they felt they should put out with the house guarantee for quality and quantity, they did not pause at half way measures. The finest fruits and vegetables that the market could be made to yield are bought for the packing. The work is done under the direction of experts of established reputation and the output is so large that the same qualities-when they can be had from other houses-cannot be bought elsewhere at the same figures. Low freights from the sources of supply and direct shipments have helped to make this house the market for a tremendous trade in these goods.

The general line of the house includes everything in domestic and imported groceries. The officers of the Stone-Ordean-Wells Company are W. R. Stone, president; A. L., Ordean, vice-president; Cameron R. Rust, treasurer and manager, and R. A. Bartholdi, secretary.


  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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