Born in Wehlau, East Prussia in 1864, Paul Frank Beich received his early education at Culm where his father was headmaster. He was the eldest of three sons born to August and Huldah (Volgelsang) Beich. At the age of 18 he emigrated and on February 21, 1887, became a naturalized citizen of the United States in McLean County. On March 1 of that year he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to take a place as a travelling salesman for candy maker Peckham & Co.

In 1893 Beich purchased the Chisholm-Gray Company building in Bloomington, first conducting business in the 200 block of East Front Street, and later in the 100 block. In 1899 Beich and Oscar Buffe purchased the Lancaster Caramel Company from M.S. Hershey. By 1908 Beich’s candy factory was at the foot of West Grove Street, just west of Union Station. Beich was considered one of the city’s leading industries, employing over 200 people. By 1929 the company employed 400 people while the Chicago branch employed 200.

The Paul F. Beich company had purchased an existing plant to manufacture in Chicago in 1912.  This expedited delivery to the Chicago market.  Later, improved roads and trucks allowed swifter access to this market, and the Chicago manufacturing was incorporated into the Bloomington site in 1939.

In 1953, the company introduced a profit-sharing approach with their Kathryn Beich line.  Organizations such as churches and schools ordered special candies to sell as fund-raisers and pay for the merchandise later.      

After many plant expansions at the old Bloomington site, the company opened a new plant on Beich Road, south of Bloomington. In 1984 Nestle purchased the company, soon ending all Beich family involvement.  Nestle sold the Kathryn Beich fund-raising company to a New York-based investment firm in 2002 and sold the Bloomington factory to Ferrero in 2018.

Materials in this collection include a wide array of correspondence, photos, newspaper and journal articles, legal documents, business advertising and promotional items, price lists, union history, and more.