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THE LATE Ferdinand Schumacher, of Akron, Ohio, will long be remembered by the people of that city and
wherever he was known, not merely as an exceptionally successful business man, but as a worker for the
cause of prohibition—a man with the deepest and most helpful altruistic spirit; and he gave a great deal of time during his long life to the furthering of movements calculated to uplift and make the world better. Pure, constant, and noble was the spiritual flame that burned in and illumined the mortal tenement of the subject of this memoir, and to the superficial observer can come but small appreciation of his intrinsic spirituality, his faith having been fortified by the deepest study and keenest observation, and the nobler verities of life were with him the matters of gravest concern among the changes and chances of this mortal life.
Mr. Schumacher, as his name would imply, was of German blood, and he was born in Celle, Hanover, Germany, March 30, 1822. He was a son of F. C. and Louise Schumacher. He grew to manhood in his native community and there received a common-school education. From the age of fifteen to the age of twenty-eight, he was employed in a grocery store and in a sugar refinery. In 1850, he immigrated to America with his brother, Otto, locating on a farm near Painesville, Ohio, where he remained two years, then went to Akron and engaged in the grocery business, which he successfully followed for ten years. In 1856, he engaged in the manufacture of oatmeal, pearl barley, and other cereal products, there being nothing of the kind on the market in this country except the Scottish goods. He had gained the idea from a crude mill in Germany, which stood in the rear of the grocery store in which he first worked. He decided he could make and market a superior quality of oatmeal than had yet been seen. This was the beginning of the F. Schumacher Mills. He continued to enlarge and increase his mills as he prospered with advancing years, until in 1886, when much of his property was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of six hundred thousand dollars; after which was formed the F. Schumacher Milling Company, which was later consolidated with other mills, forming the present gigantic firm of the Quaker Oats Company, of Chicago. Mr. Schumacher was president of that company until he retired from active business life in 1899, and resigned the position he had held so long and by reason of which he had built up the great manufacturing concern which was his pride. He was known as the oatmeal king. Besides his milling interests, he was pecuniarily and officially interested in other manufacturing enterprises. At one time he owned a large amount of valuable real estate in Akron which has since greatly increased in value. Financial reverses came late in life through bad investments, which fact he regretted more on account of others than for himself, as he was thereby prevented from using money for the good of others, and he was always charitably inclined, delighting in doing something for the welfare of the deserving. He paid all his debts in
full at one hundred cents on the dollar. He was for some time a trustee of Buchtel College, now the University of Akron, and he gave large sums toward its support. He was also one of the organizers of the Akron Hospital, and always headed any subscription for every cause he deemed vital to the public good or benefit of his adopted city. He helped many a young man through college, and took great pleasure in starting worthy young business men on the right road to prosperity and usefulness. He was regarded by all who knew him well as perhaps the most liberal man in northern Ohio, giving from a sense of duty and love of right rather than to gain the admiration of his fellow-men. He was not a member of any clubs or secret societies, preferring to devote his time exclusively to his business, his family, and to the cause of temperance. Politically he was a stanch Prohibitionist and spent thousands of dollars fighting the liquor evil, although often ridiculed by his acquaintances; but he replied to them that while the present generation might not live to see the success of the prohibition movement, it would eventually win because it was right and the right was bound to triumph. He was also a generous contributor to all the churches, being liberal in his religious views, but he was in reality a Universalist, which church was under special obligations to him for the church lot and his substantial contribution to the fine house of worship in Akron. He was a trustee in this church for many years. But he will long be remembered as one of the most zealous temperance promoters the State of Ohio has ever known. He was greatly interested in Glendale Cemetery, and he built a handsome tower there, containing a bell, at his own expense. He believed the bell should be tolled at every funeral, and this practice was followed many years during burial services there. After his retirement from business, he lived very quietly among his friends, flowers, and trees which he so ardently loved.
Mr. Schumacher was married on October 7, 1851, to his cousin, Hermine Schumacher, of Bevern, Brunswick, Germany. To this union seven children were born, only two of whom are now living, namely: Louis, of Akron, Ohio, married Dora Schumacher (a cousin), which union has been without issue; F. A. Schumacher, of Chicago, whose first wife was Abbie Soule, who bore him one daughter; his second wife, Mary Kilgour, of Chicago, became the mother of four children. These two sons assisted our subject in the successful management of the F. Schumacher Milling Company for many years, the first named as vice-president and the latter as secretary.
The second marriage of Ferdinand Schumacher was celebrated on August 1, 1.899, when he espoused Mary Zipperlen, a daughter of Dr. A. Zipperlen, a prominent physician of Cincinnati. The doctor and Mrs. Zipperlen were very great friends of Mr. Schumacher and his first wife. The doctor's practice in Cincinnati extended over a period of sixty years. He was a surgeon in the Union army during the Civil War, serving the entire four years. The second union of our subject and wife was without issue.
The death of Ferdinand Schumacher occurred on April 15, 1908, at the advanced age of eighty-six years, after a long, unusually useful and successful life, one that resulted in incalculable good to humanity The whole city of Akron loved him and mourned his loss and will long continue to revere his memory.
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