The Quaker Mill Company - history
The Quaker Mill Company, forerunner to the mega-giant
Quaker Oats, was incorporated in 1877 in the small town of
The four men who founded the oat milling company were
William Heston, Henry D. Seymour, Francis B. King, and John B.
There are conflicting accounts as to how the Quaker name
was chosen. One version gives credit to Henry Seymour,
who was said to be browsing the dictionary in search of an
idea for the company name. He came upon an article on
the Quakers and decided that their characteristics of purity,
honesty and strength were parallel with those envisioned of
the new company. The second version gives credit to
William Heston, who is said to have been walking on the
streets of Cincinnati when he came upon a picture of William
Penn, a Quaker whose clothes and character inspired in his
mind a good name for their new venture.
The Quaker trademark, described as "The figure of a
man in Quaker garb," was recorded with the U.S. Patent
Office in September 1877. The name and mark were to be
applied to their products of oatmeal, cracked corn, cracked
wheat, pearl barley and farina.
After struggling for two years against stiff competition
from Ferdinand Schumacher, a miller in nearby Akron, the plant
and business was sold to Warren Corning.
Henry P. Crowell and James H. Andrews, both from Cleveland,
Ohio, formed a partnership and purchased all of the company
stock in 1881 for the sum of $25,000. The ideas and
business practices of these two men were to strongly influence
the oatmeal milling business of the future.
In 1886, the Quaker Mill Company joined 20 other eastern
millers to form the Oatmeal Millers' Association in a combined
effort to stabilize and control the production and prices of
oatmeal in their area.
The Association was short-lived and the Quaker Mill Company
then joined in the initial charter of the Consolidated Oatmeal
Company, a pooling concern with the same objectives, in
1887. Henry P. Crowell was named as President of this
As more states initiated laws against pooling companies and
the influx of new mills created an over-saturated
oatmeal market, it became evident that the Consolidated
Oatmeal Company could not survive financially.
In 1891, the Quaker Mill Company joined six of the other
largest and oldest oatmeal millers in the industry to form the
American Cereal Company.
Of all the brands that the seven millers represented, the
Quaker brand name was the one that was most heavily promoted.
The trademarked Quaker Oats man on is said to be the first
American advertising icon on a food product.
by Kathy Moore - 9/8/2005