We here in the heavily timbered land of the Pacific Northwest have certainly seen and heard the name of Weyerhaeuser Company and know it has something to do with the timber and lumbering industry. We’d never have guessed that Frederick Weyerhaeuser (1834-1914) began his company in the Mississippi River town of Davenport, Iowa, but he did.
The company was founded in 1900 by Frederick Weyerhaeuser who had emigrated to the U.S. from Germany when he was 18. He worked first as a laborer in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he met and married Elisabeth Bladel. In 1856, the young couple moved to Rock Island, Illinois (across the river from Davenport). Weyerhaeuser found work in a sawmill and lumber yard, eventually becoming foreman and arduously began saving his money. Weyerhaeuser was a workaholic and by the mid-1860s he had purchased the mill and was buying pine tracts in Wisconsin, expanding into Minnesota, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
By 1903, Weyerhaeuser owned more than 1.5 million acres of land in Washington even though he kept his residence in St. Paul. He was survived by seven children; his son, John P. Weyerhaeuser, succeeded him as president of the company. Demands for lumber during World War I led to a substantial increase in the company’s business. The military demand for lumber was so high that the Army sent soldiers to work as lumberjacks in Weyerhaeuser’s forests to increase production. By 1941, industry executives joined John P. Weyerhaeuser and Washington Gov. Arthur Lang in dedicating the nation’s first tree farm near Montesano.
And it all started with a hard-working German immigrant in a small Midwestern town.
(Thanks to www.historylink.org for the information on Weyerhaeuser.) If you want all the details of his life, click to Google.