Food and Food Processing

German Immigrants and J. P. Morgan’s Securities Underwriting Syndicates

The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project offers a transnational perspective on American history. Transaction records from the J. P. Morgan & Co. Syndicate Books help us understand how a transnational society of bankers networked funds around the world by forming syndicates to support the globalization process. Syndicate participation provided a way for many German immigrants and German-Americans to attain both economic success and social status in America.

Griesedieck, Joseph

Joseph Griesedieck was one of the most influential brewers in St. Louis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the 1880s to the 1910s, he helped run several city breweries. At the outset of Prohibition, he acquired the Falstaff label and built the Falstaff Corporation around it. While many other brewers failed during Prohibition, Griesedieck kept his company afloat by selling “near beer,” soft drinks, carbonated water, and pork products. After the repeal of Prohibition, he obtained the first federal permit to begin brewing beer legally again. Within five years, the Falstaff Brewing Corporation was operating four plants in three states and had gained a national market.

Kleberg, Robert Justus II

An icon of American frontier life, King Ranch harkens back to a mythical age when the Wild West was tamed and settled. Its success is a testimony to the hard work and vision of second-generation German immigrant Robert Kleberg II. During his long tenure as ranch manager, Kleberg made key improvements in the areas of livestock and health, pasture management, and ranching facilities. His story, though, would be incomplete if one failed to mention the significant contributions he made to the urban and economic development of South Texas as a whole.

Klein, William

The entrepreneurial careers of William “Bill” Klein and his brother Frederick began in the shadows of Milton Hershey’s burgeoning chocolate empire on the streets of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After working at Hershey's Chocolate Company, the brothers relocated to Elizabethtown and founded their own company. The Klein Chocolate Company was hugely successful and remained in family hands throughout its existence, at times providing employment for brothers and sisters and financial security for the entire immigrant family.

Ludwig, Christopher

Christopher Ludwig was one of the most successful German immigrant entrepreneurs in the British North American colonies and later the United States during the late eighteenth century. Following his arrival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1754, Ludwig converted his savings and culinary skills into a bakery and confectionary shop in the Letitia Court district. The enterprise thrived, which allowed Ludwig to expand his bakeshop and branch out into other business endeavors. Within two decades Ludwig had amassed significant wealth that included ownership of numerous properties in the region.

Rath, John Washington

John Washington Rath, a founder of the Rath Packing Company in Waterloo, Iowa, played a major role in the American meatpacking business for more than fifty years. Rath served as president of the family business from 1898 to 1943, and then as chairman of the board until 1950. John Washington Rath and the Rath Packing Company also played a critical role in Waterloo’s development as a center of industry during the first half of the twentieth century. The Rath brand was a force in the American meat industry for years until faltering sales and labor struggles led to the company’s decline.

Schoellkopf, Jacob Frederick

Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf immigrated to the United States in 1842 and through a combination of thoughtful, strategic decision-making and a fair dose of luck, built a family empire in and around Buffalo, New York, that he passed down to his son and grandsons. Trained in Württemberg as a tanner, he took major risks in the U.S. by venturing into commercial sectors in which he had no knowledge or experience. Yet, by working closely with native-born Americans who were experts in these fields and by sending his children back to Germany for further education, he found himself on the cutting edge of a number of fields including hydroelectric power generation and aniline dye production.

Spreckels, Walter

Walter Spreckels emigrated to the United States to become a clerk in his cousin’s sugar factory in Yonkers, New York. He started a family and made a fine career as a sugar business executive. World War I interrupted this steady improvement when Spreckels was deemed an “alien enemy” and barred from his position. However, he eventually rose to become president of the Syrup Products Company, a subsidiary of his former employer, the Federal Sugar Refining Company. After being pushed out of the company as a result of running afoul of Prohibition enforcement, he went on to become a labor negotiator for the National Recovery Agency and eventually a private industrial relations consultant in California.