F. Schumacher Milling Company - history
The Schumacher Milling Company was one of the early oatmeal
mills that were merged together to form what is now known as
the Quaker Oats Company.
Ferdinand Schumacher, a young German immigrant, came to the
U.S. in 1850 at the age of twenty-two. He married and
settled in Akron, Ohio where he became the proprietor of a
notions and grocery store on Howard Street.
Drawing upon his experience as a grocer's clerk in Germany,
he began hand grinding small quantities of oats and selling
the meal across the counter of his store to those in the local
His efforts in marketing oatmeal for human consumption were
successful--he succeeded in creating a demand where there had
been previously been none. Although oats and porridge
were standard fare in some European countries, Americans
considered it to be livestock food.
In 1856, Schumacher turned his attention primarily to the
business of grinding oats. He acquired a former woolen
factory, located at Market and Howard Streets, outfitted it with the proper machinery and began
the production and sale of "German Mills American Oatmeal."
Schumacher continued to increase his flour and cereal
milling capabilities. In 1863, he built the Empire
Barley Mill on Mill Street in Akron, expanding his interests to include the milling of
barley and wheat.
A large part of his early prosperity was due to the fact
that he was able to provide barrels of
oatmeal to the Union soldiers of the Civil War. After
the war was over, his oatmeal remained in demand by the war
In 1868, Schumacher purchased the Cascade Mills on North
Street in Akron. This mill was rebuilt in 1876 and in
1881 the machinery was updated to include the roller
1870's - 1880's
The original German Mill burned in 1872 and was replaced
with another, which was called "German Mill
A." In 1883, another mill was built, "German
Mill B," which became known as the "Jumbo
Mill." The Jumbo Mill was located at Broadway and
Mill Streets and is now the site of what is now known as
Quaker Square, a hotel and shopping complex built from the old
silos and factory buildings.
The early 1880's saw Schumacher selling his oatmeal far
beyond the local community. His oatmeal was shipped to
New England, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago
and a few points farther west. He had become known as
the "Oatmeal King of America" and was by far the
most successful and powerful oatmeal miller of the times.
A massive fire in March of 1886 destroyed his Jumbo Mill
plant. At that time, the Jumbo Mill was one of the
largest in the world. Schumacher was
uninsured. This event began the the reversal of his
fortune and his power over the industry.
With no means to replace what was lost, he was forced to
merge with a competitor. The remains of the Jumbo Mill
plant and the business he had developed were his contributions
to the partnership that was formed with the Akron Milling
Company. This new concern, heavily trading on Schumacher's
reputation, became known as the F. Schumacher Milling Company.
Although Ferdinand Schumacher was one of the first men to
successfully distribute his product nationally, he was reluctant to accept and implement other new
and modern ideas that the industry demanded of him.
Rivalry among the millers, large and small, soon forced
consolidation between companies.
The Schumacher Milling Company was one of 20 other eastern
millers that formed the Oatmeal Millers' Association in 1886
in a combined effort to stabilize and control the production
and prices of oatmeal.
Due to the looseness of the organization, the objectives of the Association were not realized. In 1887 the Schumacher Milling Company,
along with eleven other members of the Oatmeal Millers'
Association, joined in the initial charter of the Consolidated
Oatmeal Company. Ferdinand Schumacher served as
Treasurer on the Board of Directors of this new company.
The new company's objective, like its predecessor, was also to
control the oatmeal field.
The Consolidated Oatmeal Company was successful in its early years.
Eventually, however, the competition from the increasing
number of rival mills and neglect by other members to respect
the price agreements resulted in another reorganization and
In 1891, the F. Schumacher Milling Company joined six other millers
to form the American Cereal
Company. Ferdinand Schumacher was named as
By 1897 there was an unyielding divide among the members of
the Board of Directors with respect to how the company should
be run. Schumacher preferred the old methods, while
others wanted to adapt more modern marketing and advertising
methods. In 1897,
Schumacher was dropped from the Board of Directors and he sold
his remaining interests in the company in 1899.
In 1901, the American Cereal Company reorganized and began
doing business under the name Quaker Oats Company.
Ferdinand Schumacher, a pioneer of American breakfast
cereal and founder of one of the companies
that was to eventually become part of the Quaker Oats Company, died on April 16,