William W. Cargill

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William W. Cargill
Born December 15, 1844
Port Jefferson, New York
Died October 17, 1909(1909-10-17) (aged 64)
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Cause of death pneumonia
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Ellen ("Ella") Theresa Stowell
Parent(s) William Dick Cargill
Edna Davis
Relatives Margaret Anne Cargill (granddaughter)
James R. Cargill (grandson)

William Wallace Cargill (December 15, 1844 – October 17, 1909) was an American business executive. In 1865 he founded Cargill, which by 2008 was the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue, employing over 150,000 people in 68 countries.[1]

Early life[edit]

William Wallace Cargill was born on December 15, 1844, in Port Jefferson, New York. He was the third of seven children of Scottish sea captain William Dick Cargill who had emigrated to New York in the late 1830s. His mother Edna Davis was a native of New York. In 1856 Cargill's parents relocated to Janesville, Wisconsin to pursue an agricultural life.[2][3][4]


In 1865, William W. Cargill started a small grain storage business in Conover, Iowa, which eventually grew to become Cargill, Incorporated.[5]

In 1867, he was joined by two of his younger brothers, Sam and Sylvester, in Lime Springs, Iowa, where Cargill built a grain flat house and opened a lumberyard. In 1875, another younger brother, James F. Cargill, joined the company.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Cargill married Ellen ("Ella") Theresa Stowell on October 1, 1868.[7] They had four children together:[8]

  • William ("Will") Samuel Cargill, whose wife was Mary MacMillan Cargill
  • Edna Clara Cargill (1871–1963), who married John H. MacMillan Sr (1869–1940)
  • Emma Cargill, who married Fred M. Hanchette
  • Austen Cargill, whose wife was Anne Ray Cargill

Later life and death[edit]

In 1904, Cargill suffered from a stroke which prompted his retirement from most day-to-day work in the company. In October 1909 Cargill became ill during a trip to Montana. He returned home and was treated but died of pneumonia on October 17, 1909.[3]

Cargill's entire estate was to be passed on to his wife by law; however, as it was going through probate, his widow Ellen also died on March 23, 1910. This meant that the Cargill company was to be divided equally among his children.[8] He was succeeded as President of Cargill by his son-in-law, John H. MacMillan Sr.


  1. ^ "The Largest Private Companies". Forbes. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Rethford, Wayne. "William Wallace Cargill 1844–1909". Scottish-American History Club. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "William W. Cargill Dead". The Grain Dealers Journal. 23 (8): 533. 1909. 
  4. ^ "Death of W. W. Cargill". Commercial West: 56. 23 Oct 1909. 
  5. ^ Solomon, Brian. "The Secretive Cargill Billionaires And Their Family Tree". Forbes. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Cargill Timeline" (PDF). Cargill. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Broehl, Wayne (1992). Cargill: Trading the World's Grain. UPNE. p. 21. 
  8. ^ a b Broehl, Wayne (1992). Cargill: Trading the World's Grain. UPNE. p. 160. 
Preceded by
President of Cargill
1865 – 1909
Succeeded by
John H. MacMillan Sr