For 27 years, Marnie and Elias Joseph operated Joseph’s Catering providing food for parties and other events across East Texas.
Although many people know them as caterers, the couple has ties to machines invented years ago and still in use today.
Mrs. Joseph’s father, James Bernard Sedberry, a Tennessee native, invented the J.B. Hammermill, a machine used to grind feed for cattle.
Although the machine was initially used for that purpose, as it was developed, other companies, such as those producing cereal, baby food and chocolate used it, Mrs. Joseph said.
Sedberry’s wife, Marnie Byars Sedberry, worked with him and found Bossert and Co. in Utica, N.Y., to manufacture the machine.
The couple moved there and Sedberry became a salesman for the product, hiring distributors in several states.
In the mid-1930s, the Sedberry company moved to Franklin, Tenn., and, in 1947, to Tyler.
The story takes a turn when the Sedberrys’ daughter, Marnie, grew up and married Elias Joseph, a chemical engineer who worked for the U.S. government in Oak Ridge, Tenn., at the time. Oak Ridge was a plant that was key to the development of the atomic bomb, but Joseph worked there after the bombs had been dropped.
In the mid-to-late 1950s, after Sedberry had died in 1954, Mrs. Sedberry moved to Tyler. Joseph resigned from Oak Ridge and, along with his wife, followed.
Once here, Joseph started reading articles about banks burning old money and he took the existing J.B. Hammermill and modified it to create a disintegrator to destroy canceled currency.
The end result was that what went in as bills came out as something similar to cotton or dryer lint. It eliminated the need for burning, making it better for the environment, Mrs. Joseph, 80, said. In addition, it provided a more secure destruction process. There was no way it could be made back into money, Joseph, 87, said.
Joseph and his business partner at the time sold their first machine to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas in the early 1970s, according to a Sept. 25, 1978 article in the Tyler Courier-Times.
He also designed destruction machines for central banks in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, according to the article.
The machines varied in size according to the need and could destroy between 300 and 1,600 pounds of currency per hour.
Each machine was custom designed and the customer used or sold the destroyed money for different products, according to the article.
Joseph spent several years traveling the world installing his machines until he retired in the early 1980s, Mrs. Joseph said. By the time he retired, the Sedberry Co. already had been operating under a new name with new owners for several years.
In 1976, Dr. Jim Granberry, 1974 Republican candidate for governor, and three Smith County men, purchased the Sedberry Manufacturing Plant in Tyler from Tyler Bank & Trust Co. and Mrs. Sedberry, who, by that time, had moved to Dallas.
The new company was Jay Bee Manufacturing, and Granberry is its CEO today. Mrs. Sedberry retained and continued to operate her Tennessee company, Sedberry Industries of Franklin, Tenn., for the Jay Bee products in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, according to the article.
She later returned to Tyler to be with her daughter, Mrs. Joseph, and niece Betty Summers before she died in the early 1980s, Mrs. Joseph said.
Today, Jay Bee Manufacturing continues to operate in Tyler selling its hammermill and paper disintegrators around the world.
Brent Hamilton, plant manager of Jay Bee Manufacturing Inc., said all of the hammermills and paper disintegrators they manufacture come from designs created when the Sedberrys owned it.
“Those guys drew up blue prints and modified blue prints …” Hamilton said adding that original J.B. Sedberry hammermills still are in use today.
Hamilton said the Sedberry company’s “claim to fame” was the separator plates on its hammermills.
Because the hammermills had an all bolted construction, if one part broke down, they could take it apart, fix that piece and put it back together.
Many other companies welded their hammermills together so it made it more difficult to take apart and repair, he said.
Hamilton said every hammermill design uses basically the same technology. It’s a free-swinging hammer style hammermill.
Whatever is dropped inside the hammermill is struck multiple times by the hammers and whenever it is beat small enough, it falls through the screen at the bottom. The screen size can be changed depending upon what is being ground and how small it needs to be made.
Jay Bee Manufacturing markets its products to different industries, selling to the government, the gypsum industry and more, Hamilton said.
NASA uses its mobile paper disintegrator for document destruction, he said. The National Security Agency has approved the security screen used in that machine, according to the Jay Bee Hammermill Manufacturing website.
Hamilton said at one time almost every small town had a feed mill and used a J.B. Sedberry hammermill. Today, it’s surprising if the county seat has a feed mill.
Although Sedberry and his team designed a lot of hammermill systems that are now obsolete, many have stood the test of time and continue to be manufactured today, Hamilton said.
“Nobody has designed anything that we manufacture down here other than the Sedberry regime,” Hamilton said.