Schmidt Family - Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company Collection
Scope and Contents
This is a large collection centered around the Schmidt and allied families and the Davenport, Iowa businesses they were involved with including Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company, Roddewig-Schmidt Candy Company, and others dating from the 1800s to the 1960s in Davenport, Iowa.
Formats include panoramic photographic prints, photographic prints and albums, scrapbooks, business and personal documents, correspondence, publications, family history materials and ephemeral items dating from the 1800s in Germany through the 1960s in Davenport, Iowa.
The bulk of the collection consists of photographs of the Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company, both interior and exterior, and portraiture and snapshots of the Schmidt families.
The business files of Oswald Schmidt include mainly correspondence with other biscuit and cracker manufacturers and his sales representatives.
The "Cracker Barrel" from the 1920s provides insight as to product lines the Company was promoting to grocers and distributors.
There are price lists from Crescent and other manufacturers throughout Iowa and the United States, England and Germany that date pre-1900 forward.
Surprising highlights are examples of hard "tack" or bread and macaroni in original packaging dating to 1917. Another is the business ledger of Ferdinand Roddewig's wine and liquor business which was used as a scrapbook to keep Roddewig family memorabilia such as his passport from 1841, family correspondence written in German from the 1850s, and programs, play bills and notices from Davenport cultural activities in the 1870-1900 era.
Photographic Equipment and Movie Film: The history of this part of the collection begins at Christmas 1928 with the gifting of a Filmo movie camera and projector to Hugo and Hedwig (ANDRESEN) SCHMIDT from Carl Bruno SCHMIDT. Hedwig started and Richard H. continued keeping a handwritten diary of the dates and places the films were taken. These movies provide a history of Scott County, Crescent Macaroni Company, Rockingham Machine Company and Lunex Company.
The original cine film was converted to VHS and DVD by the donor and is included with this donation.
According to donor, the bulk of filming was done by Hedwig (Andresen) Schmidt and Uncle Hermie (Andresen).
Much of the content is of a family nature and reflects the fashions and customs of the times. Disc 1 Segment 1 of the film footage is of Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company sales conventions and boat trips in 1929. Segment 6 includes scenes from the 1933 Crescent Picnic and a September 1930 convention, icing and bake shop in the plant, and 1930 boat trip. Segment 7 shows the activities at the Coo Barn at High Spot Acres in April and September 1932.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Materials are available for use in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center only.
Request permission before copying materials.
Personal digital cameras and scanners are allowed in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center on a case-by-case basis. The items that a researcher may want to scan or photograph must be examined and evaluated for physical condition, copyright issues, and donor restrictions by staff.
Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.
The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of reproductions of copyrighted material.
Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.
Biographical / Historical
History of Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company:
In 1854, H.O. Hugo Schmidt left his home in Westphalia Germany at the age of fifteen and sailed to America to visit his sister and brother-in-law, Matilda and Henry Lambach, in Davenport, Iowa. The Lambachs had come to the U.S. in 1848. Once in America, Hugo never left.
His first job was with a party of engineers, including Henry Lambach, surveying in the territory of Minnesota. By 1856 he had returned to Davenport and was under the employ of Nicholls, Campbell & Co., a Davenport bank. Later he took a clerkship in the law offices of Corbin, Dow & Brown where he handled abstracts, studied law, and was admitted to practice. Hugo married Theresa Zella Koehler in 1861. In 1863 Mr. Corbin helped organize the First National Bank and arranged to have Hugo Schmidt appointed teller and assistant cashier. In 1870 Hugo became the cashier of the Citizens National Bank and was a valued employee. Hugo Schmidt left the Citizens National Bank to partner with Charles Reupke and Bernhard Schwarting to operate a factory on the northwest corner of 4th and Iowa Streets.
That company,founded in 1875 by Hugo Schmidt, Sr. was the Davenport Steam Bakery, later becoming Reupke, Schmidt & Co. The business was one of the pioneer cracker and macaroni companies in the middle west. While giving a tour of the factory on July 19, 1878 Hugo stepped onto an insecure elevator platform on the second floor, falling to the bottom of the shaft. His concussion was severe and he died at the age of 39 a few days later leaving a widow and six children ages three to sixteen. His eldest son, Oswald, immediately joined the firm as bookkeeper, prospering in the job. A short time later he had the opportunity to buy out his partners. After talking this matter over with his cousin Paulo Roddewig, the two went into partnership in 1887 as the Roddewig-Schmidt Cracker Company. They sold the cracker and cookie portion of the business in the early 1890s and the candy business became the Roddewig-Schmidt Candy Company at 4th and Iowa Streets.
In 1894, the Loos Brothers of Chicago opened the Crescent Macaroni Company on the site of the Old Burtis House in Davenport, Iowa, and the landmark building was incorporated into the factory. Crescent Macaroni marketed spaghetti, egg noodles, and macaroni. In 1904, the company began making cookies and soda crackers as well.
The management of the business was entrusted to Oswald Schmidt. Oswald Schmidt served as secretary-treasurer at Crescent Macaroni, while his partner, Paulo Roddewig, was appointed president. Their previous business, the Roddewig-Schmidt Candy Company, took over the candy portion of the operation with Paolo Roddewig as president, and Oswald's younger brothers Walter as secretary and treasurer and Herman as vice-president. Among their products were Velma Chocolates, named for Oswald's daughter.
In 1904 Oswald and Paolo purchased the Crescent Macaroni Company from the Loos brothers along with the building, renaming it the Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company. The company prospered and in 1908, Oswald's son Carl Bruno (C.B.) joined Crescent with younger son Hugo joining the following year.
On January 23, 1915, Oven No. 1 malfunctioned. The buildings—including the Old Burtis House—were destroyed in the fire. Only the factory's brick boiler stack survived and was used in reconstruction. The new building designed by architectural firm Clausen and Kruse of Davenport, was planned with fire safety in mind including concrete columns and floors, metal clad work doors, steel window sashes, metal and concrete staircases, and a water tower on the roof. The new factory opened in January 1916.
Beginning in 1919, the Company began having annual celebrations for salesmen and employees - the Crescent Family. All would board one of the steamboats on the Mississippi River and sail to Linwood for a picnic that included lots of food, contests and games.
Crescent sponsored the long running "Crescent Hour of Music" on fledgling radio station WOC beginning April 17, 1925. The Crescent Orchestra was joined by an ensemble of singers and personalities for this very popular broadcast.
Richard H. Schmidt retired in 1967 and The Crescent Macaroni & Cracker Company merged with Formel, keeping the Crescent name. The factory finally closed in 1991. In 2003, the empty building was purchased as part of a project to convert older downtown commercial buildings in the Crescent Warehouse District into luxury apartments. The building at 427 Iowa Street is now called Davenport Lofts.
History of the Schmidt family direct line:
German immigrant H.O. Hugo Schmidt (1839-1878) arrived in the United States and came direct to Davenport, Iowa in 1854. Married Zella Koehler (1841-1902) in 1861. Children: Oswald Tillie Herman Walter Zella Ben
Oswald (1862-1922) married Gertie Bruhn (1863-1918) in 1884. Children: Velma Clarchen (died infancy) Carl Bruno Hugo John
Velma Schmidt (1886-1959) remained single
Carl Bruno Schmidt (1888-1981) remained single
Hugo John Schmidt (1890-1948) married Hedwig M. Andresen (1897-1976) in 1922. Children: Richard Hugo "Dick" Sally Joanne Betty
Richard Hugo aka R.H. aka Dick (1923-2022) married Mary Ann Schulz (1923-2011) in 1947. Children: Living
47.83 Linear Feet (in 69 containers plus individual projectors, camera equipment, etc.)
Language of Materials
Range 22 Sections 03 and 04 32 boxes and wrapped portrait;
Ranges 43 and 44: cameras and equipment, projectors, original film footage, VHS and VHS compact tapes, DVDs;
Map Case 03 Drawer 13: Panoramic print Herman Schulz Aviation Group, Sept. 1917;
volunteer work room counter pending panoramic prints and rolled diplomas as of Arpil 2023.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center Repository
321 Main Street
Davenport IA 52801-1490 United States