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SEYMOUR CANNING AND COLD STORAGE COMPANY

SEYMOUR CANNING AND COLD STORAGE COMPANYChuck Miller, a lifetime member of the historical society, stopped in the museum with a book published in 1950 that included an early history of the canning factory business in Wisconsin. The following article is taken from that book "The Canner".

The first news item regarding this project was in “The Canner” of October 26, 1899. “A Seymour, Wisconsin correspondent states that the Seymour Canning Factory is now assured, $12,000.00 having been subscribed to put the wheels in motion. F. L. Forward and William Michelstetter have been mainly instrumental in bringing about this result. This factory will probably be located on the west side of the city near the railway track. The building is to be erected by January 1, 1900, and the machinery in and ready to run by June 1st. Contracts are already being let to furnish crops for the factory.”

Apparently problems were encountered since no mention was made of the Seymour project until March 27, 1902 when “The Canner” reported, “The stock for the new canning factory has all be subscribed. The new company will be incorporated at once and will be known as the Seymour Canning and Cold storage Company.” The following officers and directors have been elected: R. Holman, president; George Falck, vice president; Charles Ploeger, treasurer; Charles Baker, secretary and manager, and Julius S. Edwards, processor.

The fledgling company experience more setbacks with the “complete failure” of the tomato crop and the “small yield” of corn. In spite of this investor confidence was high as Mr. Edwards was considered to be “one of the most experienced processors and factory superintendents in the country.”

It seems the company needed more than Mr. Edwards expertise as an article from “The Canner” of October 12, 1905 stated, “A report from Seymour, Wisconsin says that the canning factory there is experiencing financial problems. It was erected and equipped at a cost of approximately $10,000.00 has been sold to C. F. Ploeger for $2,500.00.”

Because of low prices and trying weather conditions the canning factory continued to struggle and in 1914 it was taken over by local investors, Dr. James Hittner and Neil Kyle. Within a few months it was sold to a group of businessmen from Milwaukee for $3,500.00. At this time the factory was primarily canning corn and sauerkraut.

The company experienced a rebirth when Green Bay businessman Henry J. Selmer purchased the plant in 1925. His financial security and business acumen led to a building and expansion program. Selmer, who was a building contractor for many years, insisted on well-built buildings. He replaced the old barn like structure with a brick warehouse and added a brick canning plant with modern machinery said to be equal of any in the state. Selmer build many other canning plants in the state modeled after his Seymour operation. Under Selmer’s direction the plant increased production from 50,000 cans in 1925 to 250,000 by 1940. In the early 40’s Henry Selmer retired and turned the operation of the factory over to his son, Norman, and his treasurer and plant manager, G. T. Farley.

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