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John Pillsbury

Title: Obituary Notice
Type: Newspaper
Date: October 24, 1901
Source: St. Paul Weekly Dispatch

Description: Obituary of John S. Pillsbury, printed in the St. Paul Weekly Dispatch on October 24, 1901.


Mr. Pillsbury moved West and settled at St. Anthony, where he engaged in the hardware business with George F. Cross and Woodbury Fiske. The concern which the three enterprising men then established was along the east river bank, overlooking the then Falls of St. Anthony. It was practically on this very spot where, more than a quarter of a century later, Mr. Pillsbury and his brother and nephews (George A., Charles A. and Fred C. Pillsbury) established an industrial monument in the shape of the largest flour mill in the world — the Pillsbury A mill. Perhaps the most interesting chapter in the life of Mr. Pillsbury is that which tells of his early interest in and constant devotion to the University of Minnesota. This institution had received a grant Gift. of 46,000 acres of land in 1851. In 1856 this land was mortgaged Borrowed money against. for $45,000 to be used in the erection of "university" buildings. In 1857 the main building, the central stone structure, now designated as the administration building) was constructed and a mortgage of $15,000 placed on it. When the panic of 1857 Financial crisis with high unemployment, bankruptcies. came the trustees Directors. of the university were unable to meet their obligations, and creditors were clamorous. People owed money were demanding payment. After several years of hopeless effort the friends of the university despaired of preserving it. In 1862 the governor of the state recommended that the legislature give all the lands in settlement for all the debts of the institution. Mr. Pillsbury, however, had been making a study of university affairs, and having been appointed one of the regents Members of the governing board. in 1863, began an investigation of its affairs and adopted a plan which finally resulted in discharging all outstanding obligations, Paying off the debts. saving to the university upward of 33,000 acres of the land grant, with the university ground and buildings, and thus starting the institution on the road to success. These were but a portion of the services performed by Mr. Pillsbury in behalf of the university. "The Father of the University," as he is called, continued his great and unflagging interest Constant concern. in the college until the very last. His devotion to the school was given emphasis by his very liberal gifts of money, and Pillsbury hall stands as a monument to this devotion. It is probably that Mr. Pillsbury has given nearly half a million dollars to the university.