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THE JOHN F. MEYER & SONS MILLING COMPANY. This corporation, which conducts the largest flour milling business in Springfield, is composed of a father and his four sons. John F. Meyer, the father, and the founder of the business, began making flour in St. Louis in 1864, half a century ago, and continued in that line in that city steadily until 1894, a period of thirty years.
In the last mentioned year Mr. Meyer took into partnership with himself, his four sons, Ferdinand P., H. J., H. A., and Louis S. Meyer, and established the firm under the name of John F. Meyer & Sons. As soon as this partnership was formed the large three-story brick milling plant, known at the time as the "Queen City Mills," and located on the northwest corner of Booneville street and Phelps avenue, Springfield, was purchased. This corner had been the site of a mill for many years prior to the date of the Meyer purchase. John Schmook, one of the most prominent builders of the early day Spring-field during and immediately after the Civil war, had here for years a grist mill, and a planing mill adjoining. That was afterward succeeded by the Queen City Mills, the first of the large flouring plants of the city, and this was the building that in 1849 was purchased by the new milling partnership of John F. Meyer & Sons.
They at once remodelled the whole interior of the building, refitted it with the latest and most effective machinery, and increased its capacity to seven hundred barrels of flour per day. A large elevator was also added at the east of the mill building, and smaller elevators were built at different points in the region, where the soft Missouri wheat for use in the mill was bought direct from the farmers who raised it.
The business grew and prospered. Every sack of Meyer flour that went to a consumer was an advertisement more effective than columns in the papers. The best wheat obtainable, the best machinery with which to reduce it to flour, and. the most skillful men in the, trade to operate that machinery; these, and strict business management, and fair treatment, built up, extended, and established the business, and sent its products not only in all directions into neighboring states, but in no small quantities entered the foreign market and established a demand for it beyond the sea.
Meanwhile the partnership had been made into a corporation under the name which still exists of the John F, Meyer & Sons Milling Company. In 1901, after seven successful years at the original Springfield location, the demands of the trade justified large expansion, and a fine site was purchased at the corner of the National Boulevard and Pine street, in the manufacturing district, in the eastern part of the city. Here a thoroughly modern mill was erected, furnished throughout with the latest machinery, and of capacity of eight hundred barrels per day of hard wheat flour and four hundred barrels of soft wheat flour. A fine elevator was also added to the equipment of the new mill, the combined capacity of the elevators at the two mills and country stations aggregating five hundred thousand bushels. The smaller elevators for purchasing wheat direct from the growers, are scattered through Greene, Dade, Lawrence and Barry counties.
The business is stocked for one hundred thousand dollars capitalization, and has a surplus of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The company has some sixty employees, and a weekly pay-roll of a thousand dollars. The two most popular brands of flour turned out by the concern, are the Albatross, "Best on earth" soft wheat flour, and the Meyer's Model, "Always reliable," hard wheat flour. The reputation established by these brands is such that the copyright of the names is no small asset in such a business.
The general offices of the company are in suites 722, 723 and 724 Merchants-Laclede Building, St. Louis. The president, John F. Meyer, and the secretary, Ferdinand P. Meyer, have charge of the St. Louis office, while the vice-president, Herman J. Meyer, the treasurer, Henry A. Meyer, and the general manager, Louis S. Meyer, are residents of Springfield and attend to the manufacturing end of the business.
In giving the story of such a successful business enterprise, it should not close without some slight sketch of the men behind the concern, who made the success possible, and we will close this story with a few words of personal history.
John F. Meyer, the head of this company, was born in Westphalia, Germany, on the 16th day of July, 1830. He spent his boyhood upon his father's large farm in Westphalia, and after the good old German fashion, he was given a thorough education. When a young man he learned the milling business, and followed it in Germany until he was thirty years of age. In 1860 he joined that great company of his fellow countrymen, who saw a better outlook for themselves and their children in the great republic of the west than in their native land, and he emigrated to the United States. He located in St. Louis, Missouri. For four years he was in the grocery business, but in 1864, he formed a partnership with J. F. Imbs, under the name of Imbs, Meyer & Company and entered into the trade which he had learned in Germany, and which he was to follow for life.
He married in St. Louis, in 1862, Miss Katherine Fechtel, who was also a native of Westphalia, Germany. The St. Louis milling business prospered, through the same means that have later made the Springfield concern one of the institutions of the Southwest. As Mr. Meyer's sons grew up they were most of them taught their father's trade of milling, and thus when the proper time came, were prepared to assume the responsibilities of the new company in Springfield. For just half a century John F. Meyer has followed his chosen business of milling. No man is better posted in all the intricacies of the trade; no man is better known as an expert on all questions connected with it, and at eighty-four years of age, he is still a clear headed, and most highly respected business man.
Of the four sons who with the father form the company, it need only be said that their twenty years in Springfield have demonstrated their entire ability to meet any competition, and all the demands of trade. Steadily and without any parade or sounding of trumpets, the John F. Meyer & Sons Milling Company has pursued the even tenor of its way. Starting with the highest ideals of furnishing as perfect a product as was humanly possible, they have held strictly to that plan, and the years have proved the correctness of the theory by crowning the work with the greatest success.
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