A year after Thomas Beard and Enoch March platted the original town, Beard did a little boasting in a letter to his father: “We now have three large stores and a steam flour mill capable of producing 75 barrels of flour a day.” From that beginning, Beardstown would grow to international fame as a miller.
In 1867, 18-year-old German native John Schultz arrived in Beardstown. A wagon builder by trade, Schultz was an ambitious lad. When, in 1876, Schultz learned the flour mill on South Monroe Street was in dire financial straits, he decided this was the the golden opportunity of his young life.
Lacking the capital needed to buy out the struggling mill, Schultz looked to another German immigrant for help. That man was John Baujan. A skilled mason, Baujan had built Beardstown’s first brickyard. The facility was famed for the high quality of its products, making Baujan bricks a favorite among contractors.
The confidence displayed by the young Schultz impressed Baujan. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Schultz had married Baujan’s daughter, Rosa, in 1874.
Baujan and Schultz acquired the Home Mills Company in 1876, renaming it J. Baujan & Company. Schultz would gain control of the firm following Baujan’s death. Schultz then renamed the mill Schultz, Baujan & Company, evidence of the high regard he held for his benefactor, senior partner and father-in-law.
Schultz’s reach extended well beyond Beardstown. He was a partner in the Elmore-Schultz Grain Company in St. Louis. He also helped organize the Nashville Roller Mills in Tennessee. In Beardstown, he was a director of the First National Bank and the Beardstown Electric Light & Power Company.
Convinced his firm needed to move up to the next level, Schultz built a new mill at his complex.
Called the Sunbeam Mill, this new facility opened in 1916 with a capacity of 500 barrels per day and the space to increase it by another 500 barrels. Combined with the company’s two other mills, total capacity stood at 1,600 barrels per day.
Unbroken good fortune is a rarity as Schultz discovered in 1917. An explosion and fire severely damaged the mill complex. While others may have chosen retirement, the wealthy 68-year-old Schultz rebuilt his enterprise.
The new complex was hailed as one of the finest in the world. Visitors from throughout the U.S., Europe and South America came to inspect the facility and sign contracts to purchase the company’s high quality flour.
Schultz, Baujan & Company again made headlines in 1922 when Schultz, now 73, decided that it was time to again modernize his operations. He ordered the removal of all of the steam-powered equipment, replacing it with electric power. This allowed him to reduce employment and slash operating costs. Nonetheless, Schultz did not turn his back on his displaced workers. He assisted all who needed work to find new jobs.
In 1929, the company began using the Critic brand for livestock feed – a brand that would become known and respected throughout the country.
Next: The tragedy of 1982.