Friedrich Weyerhäuser

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Friedrich Weyerhäuser
BornNovember 21, 1834
DiedApril 4, 1914(1914-04-04) (aged 79)
Pasadena, California, United States
Resting placeChippiannock Cemetery
Rock Island, Illinois
41°28′54″N 90°34′40″W / 41.48167°N 90.57778°W / 41.48167; -90.57778Coordinates: 41°28′54″N 90°34′40″W / 41.48167°N 90.57778°W / 41.48167; -90.57778
Other namesFrederick Weyerhaeuser
Known forFounder of the Weyerhaeuser Company
Spouse(s)Sarah Elizabeth Bloedel
ChildrenJohn, Elise, Rudolph, Frederick, Apollonia, Charles, Margaret
CAB 1918 Weyerhaeuser Frederick signature.png

Friedrich (Frederick) Weyerhäuser (November 21, 1834 in Nieder-Saulheim, Rhenish Hesse – April 4, 1914 in Pasadena, California[1]), also spelled Weyerhaeuser, was a German-American timber mogul and founder of the Weyerhaeuser Company, which owns saw mills, paper factories, and other business enterprises, and large areas of forested land. He is the eighth-richest American of all time, with a net worth of $85 billion in 2016 dollars.[2] He was known as the "timber-king of the Northwest."[3]


Friedrich was one of 11 children of Johann Weyerhäuser and his wife. The family supported itself by working a 15-acre (6.1 ha) farm and a 3-acre (1.2 ha) vineyard near Nieder-Saulheim in the independent Grand Duchy of Hesse. Friedrich started attending the Lutheran school at Nieder-Saulheim when he was 6, and at 8 began helping on the farm. When he was 12, his father died, and Friedrich had to give up most of his studies to help out on the farm. The Revolutions of 1848 in Germany prompted several members of his family to emigrate to western Pennsylvania in the United States. They sent back glowing letters describing the conditions they found.[4]

In 1852, at the age of 17, Weyerhäuser emigrated with a group of his family from Hesse to the United States. They landed in New York City in July and proceeded to Pennsylvania, settling at North East. Frederick went to work for an earlier immigrant in a brewery. After two years, he abandoned the brewing business, because, as he put it, he felt that a brewer "often becomes his own best customer." He then worked on a farm for a year.[4]

His share of the funds from the sale of the family farm in Germany enabled him to move on further west in search of opportunity, and 1856 found him in Rock Island, Illinois, working on the construction of the Rock Island and Peoria Railroad. After a short time, he entered the sawmill of Mead, Smith and Marsh as a night fireman, quickly moving up to tallyman and then yard manager and salesman.[5] When the company opened a new yard in Coal Valley, he was sent to manage it. Though his yard prospered, the firm got into financial difficulties, and with savings from his salary Frederick bought the business.[4][6] Thus he began doing business under his own name.[4]

With his brother-in-law, Frederick Denkmann, he formed the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann Lumber Company and began to acquire interests, including some majority interests, in many other timber companies.[7] He became the central point in what was later called the "Weyerhauser Syndicate," a network of lumber interests, "reputed to have almost a hundred partners, none of whom knew the business of the others," with Weyerhaeuser as the common link.[1] In 1872, he established the Mississippi River Boom and Logging Co., an alliance that handled all the logs that were processed on the Mississippi River. In 1900, Weyerhäuser bought 900,000 acres (3,600 km2) of timberland in the Pacific Northwest from James J. Hill and founded the Weyerhäuser Timber Company. One of the 30 factories in which he held an interest was Potlatch, later Potlatch Corporation. He also owned interests in the Boise Cascade Corporation. The Weyerhaeuser Company is still the world's largest seller of timber.

In 1906, Weyerhäuser's business concerns entered the public eye when the Interstate Commerce Commission recommended to Congress that the lumber industry be investigated for possible anti-trust violations. Weyerhäuser ignored the resulting attention.[1]

Weyerhäuser married Sarah Elizabeth Bloedel on October 11, 1857. The couple had seven children: John P. Weyerhauser, Elise (Weyerhauser) Bancroft Hill, Margaret (Weyerhauser) Jewett, Apollonia (Weyerhauser) Davis, Charles A. Weyerhauser, Rudolph M. Weyerhauser, and Frederick E. Weyerhauser.[8]

In thanks to his home community, in 1904 he established a music hall in Saulheim.[5][9]

Weyerhäuser was buried in the family mausoleum in Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois.[10] Weyerhäuser was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1978.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "F. Weyerhaeuser, Lumber King, Dead" (PDF). New York Times. April 5, 1914.
  2. ^ "The All-Time Richest Americans".
  3. ^ Page, Walter Hines; Page, Arthur Wilson (1908). The World's Work. Doubleday, Page & Company.
  4. ^ a b c d Wikisource-logo.svg Homans, James E., ed. (1918). "Weyerhaeuser, Frederick" . The Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: The Press Association Compilers, Inc.
  5. ^ a b Ritter, Luke. "Frederick Weyerhaeuser." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified May 27, 2015.
  6. ^ "WEYERHAEUSER, Frederick (1834-1914)". German American Corner.
  7. ^ "Frederick E. Weyerhaeuser House, 3052 10th Avenue". City of Rock Island, IL official web site. Archived from the original on 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  8. ^ "Weyerhaeuser, Frederick". Access Genealogy. Taken from Biographical History of Rock Island, Illinois. Archived from the original on 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2009-01-30. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ "Zur Geschichte der Sängerhalle" (in German).
  10. ^ Frederick Weyerhaeuser at Find a Grave
  11. ^ "Frederick Weyerhaeuser, Weyerhaeuser Co". Junior Achievement. Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-03-25.

Further reading[edit]

  • Healey, Judith Koll. Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American West (Minnesota Historical Society Press; 2013) 256 pages; scholarly biography

External links[edit]