Charles Alfred Pillsbury (1842 - 1899)

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Birthplace: Warner, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States
Death: Died in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Cause of death: heart trouble
Occupation: Founder C.A. Pillsbury Flour Mills, Founder of the Pillsbury Mills 1872
Managed by: Gene
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About Charles Alfred Pillsbury

U.S. flour industrialist Charles Alfred Pillsbury founded the Pillsbury Company along with his uncle, John Sargent Pillsbury. From 1877 to 1897, he was Minnesota State Senator and held the chairmanship of the Finance Committee of the Senate. He was responsible for introduction and implementation of legislation, recommended by his uncle, Governor John S. Pillsbury, for the adjustment of the state debt.

He was born on December 3, 1842 in Warner, New Hampshire, the first of three children born to George Alfred Pillsbury (1816–1898) and Margaret Sprague Carleton (1817–1901). His sister Mary A. died in infancy. His brother was Frederick Carleton Pillsbury (1852–1892).

Pillsbury had a modest upbringing. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1863, paying for his college education by teaching part-time.

After finishing his formal education, Pillsbury moved to Montreal, Quebec, where he became a clerk for Buck, Robinson and Co., a produce commission company. During this time, he met his future wife, Mary Ann Stinson. Pillsbury bought a share in the business within three years, but sold it and gave up his position in 1869 to join his uncle, John Sargent Pillsbury, in Minneapolis. With John's encouragement, Pillsbury and his father pooled $10,000 of their money and bought one third of a struggling local flour milling business. The purchase was viewed as a bad move at the time, since flour milling was neither stable nor lucrative and the Pillsburys had no milling experience. But under his management, the business grew rapidly and posted a considerable profit within three years. It also received a new name: Charles A. Pillsbury and Co.

As general manager, Pillsbury brought new technology into his mills including the middlings purifier and steel rollers. These advances revolutionized the flour-making process and made flour produced in Minneapolis popular internationally. He also commissioned the first architect-designed mill, the Pillsbury A. It was the largest mill in the world by 1882, shortly after its opening, and it still stands on the Mississippi riverfront.

Pillsbury was progressive in his business practices, as well. He started one of the nation's first profit-sharing plans for company employees in 1883, supported the development of local cooper's cooperatives, and invested in measures that led to greater electrification of Minneapolis and its streetcar system.

As his flour milling business prospered, Pillsbury diversified his financial interests. He invested in grain elevators, banking, railroads, lumbering, the Northwestern Knitting Company (later Munsingwear), and land on the Mesabi Range in Northern Minnesota. He also donated generously to philanthropic causes such as the Minneapolis Maternity Hospital and the Hinckley Fire Relief Effort of 1894-1895.

Pillsbury served as head of Charles A. Pillsbury and Co. until it was sold to an English business group in 1889. Even then, he remained heavily involved in the company, acting as general manager until his death on September 17, 1899, of heart trouble. He was survived by his wife Mary and twin sons, Charles Stinson and John Sargent. Pillsbury Settlement House in Minneapolis was founded in his memory.

Sources: Wikipedia, MNopedia

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Charles Alfred Pillsbury's Timeline

1842
December 3, 1842
Warner, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States
1866
September 12, 1866
Age 23
Dunbarton, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States
1870
October 4, 1870
Age 27
1871
1871
Age 28
1876
1876
Age 33
1878
December 6, 1878
Age 36
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
December 8, 1878
Age 36
December 16, 1878
Age 36
1899
September 17, 1899
Age 56
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
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