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William Wallace Cargill

Founder of Grain, Food Business with Worldwide Operations

When William Wallace Cargill started his Minnesota grain buying business in 1864, he couldn't have imagined the outcome. By the late 20th century, Minneapolis-based Cargill, Inc., had become a multi-billion dollar business. It had developed into America's largest privately-owned corporation with some 600 plants and offices in 40 countries with more than 25,000 employees. ■ Though Will Cargill and his brothers weathered the difficult early years in building Cargill, Inc., it was the fortunate blend of Cargill and MacMillan management that turned it into the giant grain handling, food processing, and distributing empire it is today. When Will Cargill died in 1909, the net worth of the business was $2 million. In 1960 it was more than $11 billion. ■ Will Cargill was born December 15, 1844, on Long Island, New York. He was the third of seven children born to a Scottish sea captain who emigrated to New York in the late 1830s and finally settled in Janesville, Wisconsin. At age 20, Will began buying grain in Minnesota. His brothers joined him, but Will was the shrewd, imaginative leader. ■ Both the Cargills and the MacMillans have their roots in Scotland. The MacMillans are descended from Duncan MacMillan who emigrated to Canada from Inverness in 1815. Three generations of the MacMillans were successful businessmen. John H. MacMillan, a great grandson of Duncan, married Will Cargill's daughter Edna and entered the business with his father-in-law in 1898. ■ For the next 80 years, the business prospered from the blend of two astute and enterprising families to become the nation's largest agribusiness company. For 96 of Cargill's first 100 years the men at the helm were either Cargills or MacMillans.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546