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H. L. Fitch (1879-)


Posted By: IAGenWeb History Project
Date: 11/9/2005 at 07:20:21

A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
Volume IV
Chicago and New York

H. L. FITCH is an Iowa man whose career since early manhood has been identified with grain milling. In several scores he could be pronounced a master miller, a man who understands the fundamentals and the technique of his business, is a capable executive, a commercial organizer and salesman, and in every way well fitted for his responsibilities as secretary, treasurer and general manager of the Doud Milling Company of Denison.

Mr. Fitch was born, September 16, 1879, at Colesburg in Delaware County, Iowa. Both of his grandfathers were born in America, of Irish parentage. His father, R. A. Fitch, was also a native of Iowa, and spent his life as a farmer in Delaware and Story counties. He died in 1923, at the age of seventy. His wife, Sarah McNamee, was a native of Missouri, but grew up in Iowa. She was eighty-four when she died in 1925. Both parents were Methodists. They had a family of seven children, those besides H. L. Fitch being: E. H. and V. C. Fitch, both law graduates, E. H. being associated with the Iowa State Auto Insurance Company of Des Moines, and V. C. with the Wood Bros. Company at Des Moines, manufacturers of thrashing machines. G. L. Fitch is an auctioneer at Lake Crystal, Minnesota, Mrs. M. C. Malvin and Mrs. L. H. Moon also live at Lake Crystal, and Mrs. H. E. Mitchell is a resident of Seattle, Washington.

H. L. Fitch acquired his early education at Colesburg and at Zearing, and from the time he left school his thought and energies have been fully taken up with the milling industry. He learned it by practical work in mills, and since 1900 has been associated with the Doud Milling Company. In that year he became head miller of Manning, which was then the main office of the company. In 1911 the Doud Milling Company bought the Denison mill, which had been built in 1898, by the George Menagh Company. Mr. Fitch was transferred as manager to Dension and since 1915 Denison has been made the headquarters of the business.

On acquiring the Denison mill the plant was thoroughly remodeled, new and modern machinery being installed, and in 1913 the old elevators were replaced by a new forty thousand bushel iron clad elevator. For over thirty years Iowa housewives have been familiar with the standard product of the Doud Milling Company, the Fidelity and White Rose flours. The plant at Denison has a daily capacity of 125 barrels of flour, 50,000 pounds of poultry feed, 10,000 packages of Fidelity pancake flour and it also does custom grinding and oat hauling.

The company has been thoroughly progressive, and largely due to Mr. Fitch's enterprise it entered into the field of cereal manufacture, in 1925 putting on the market a new product known as the Fidelity Whole Wheat Self-Rising Pancake Flour. This product was made from a formula originated by Mr. Fitch, who spent years of study before perfecting the process. The flour is made from whole wheat, milled expressly for the purpose. The process retains all the merits of whole wheat flour, which physicians and dietetic experts have so long recommended, including all the precious minerals and vitamins. It is this whole wheat flour that comprises the basis of the Fidelity Self-Rising Pancake Flour, which is a distinctive triumph in itself, the pancakes possessing not only nutritive qualities of a high degree, but also the flavor and the color which make them attractive when served. It was in 1925 that the company put on the market this product, and about a year later the company made a special drive of publicity over the radio. At their first announcement over the air they agreed to furnish this pancake flour free to any church society wishing to put on a pancake supper. In less than thirty minutes after the announcement was made requests began coming in by telephone and wire and later by mail, until, when totalled, it required half a carload of flour to fill the orders from six different states. For several years the company has also cooperated with the radio station at Shenandoah in a threeday jubilee, their contribution to the event being the serving of free pancakes.

In 1926 the Doud Milling Company again remodeled the plant, installing new machinery throughout. Because of the tremendous popularity of the pancake flour a complete new addition to the mill was built and modern machinery installed in 1928, devoted exclusively to the manufacture of this product.

Mr. Fitch is a Republican and served two years on the city council of Denison. He is a Methodist and is active in the work of the Masonic Lodge and a member of the Royal Arch Chapter. He married Laura McMurray, a native of Marengo, Iowa County. They have two children. Herbert Wayne, born August 14, 1908, graduated from Denison High School in 1926 and is now associated with his father in the milling business. James Lockhard, born November 9, 1915, is in the class of 1933 at Denison High School.


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