At the turn of the twentieth century, George Joseph Cornille immigrated to the Chicagoland area from France to raise his family in America. He started a farm in the same centuries-old tradition his family had established in the Alsace region of France. He raised vegetables indigenous to his father’s homeland, as well as new varieties of produce he discovered here in this country. His loving care, technique and hard work soon earned him a place at the forefront of Midwestern Farmers. Although the Cornille Farm no longer exists, the premier reputation for outstanding fruits and vegetables established by our founder is the legacy we strive to uphold.
In 1925, construction began on a new wholesale marketplace just southwest of what is now Chicago’s downtown area. The new South Water Market was established and George was selected to be the agent of other family and area farmers, to insure fair representation and pricing.
In 1912, George’s son, Henry Joseph (Hank) Cornille was born, the first child of eight. Having been raised on the farm, “Hank” was well suited to begin a career at the new South Water Market. When he was 17 he started working with his father. Unfortunately, that was the same year of the Stock Market Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. Still they persevered through those years, through WWII and kept the business thriving in spite of the hard times. Hank’s son Tom started going to the market with his father in 1958, when he was only 5 years old. He was fascinated by the workplace his grandfather founded and by the time he was a teenager he knew the produce business was “in his blood.” After college, Tom was eager to begin working full-time with his dad.
By the 1970’s, many changes were taking place in the business. Produce was no longer loaded by hand and many imported items were beginning to be brought in by airplane. Technological improvements made it possible to handle greater volume and to move product more rapidly. The Cornille Company was able to bring a greater variety of products to the marketplace.
Today at George J. Cornille & Sons, we still concentrate on bringing our customers the highest quality merchandise with utmost attention to service. Air freighting has helped us provide naturally ripe produce at the peak of freshness. It has also helped us maintain time-efficient deliveries and a wider shipping area. Through all these years, we have established unequalled relationships with shippers, local farmers and foragers that enable us to offer an amazing variety of specialty produce.
With all the changes in the business during the last few decades, the founding premise of integrity and code of ethics set forth by George has not changed. Tom has pledged to hold to the standards set by his grandfather, maintained by his father and carried on by his children into the next generation.
He was not one of Edgewater’s original farmers; nor did he purchase his farm from a previous farmer. And unlike other owners of Edgewater farm land such as Nicholas Kransz, he did not subdivide his land. Quite the contrary, he purchased his land from a subdivider and created his farm on the lots he bought. His name was Joseph Cornille and he came not from Luxemburg or Germany, as had other farmers such as Kransz and Weber, but from France. Read More
Cornille has been selling specialty produce before most people had ever heard of Kiwifruit. For decades, the top Chicago newspapers have looked to Tom Cornille for news and information on the hottest food trends to sweep the country.
Here is a collection of articles from various sources that mention George J. Cornille & Sons, Inc. Read More.
South Water Street was the city's primary wholesale produce market until it was relocated in 1925 for the construction of Wacker Drive. The Cornille Family emigrated to America from France during the great Third Wave of immigration in the 1880s. They settled in the farming community in the Chicagoland area and began raising fruits and vegetables native to their Alsatian ancestry. Well known for his fair and honest business ethics and high quality farm products, George J. Cornille was selected by the community to represent them in the newly established Chicago South Water Market. Read More