Magnet pictures vintage 1880s advertisement for Pillsbury flour wholesaler Kerker Flour Co. The Kerkers were community leaders in Davenport
In 18690 Charles Alfred Pillsbury (1842-1899) bought a third of a small flour mill. Pillsbury upgraded the machinery from water-powered to steam-driven roller millstones, putting the company in a good position to take advantage of the milling industry's shift from soft winter wheat to more durable hard spring wheat. With its newer equipment Pillsbury, like other midwest millers, was better prepared for the shift than east coast mills. Coupled with the shipping cost efficiencies of a central location, midwest milling companies experienced boom years.
In 1890, with production at 5,000 barrels a day, Pillsbury sold the company to an English syndicate, with Charles Pillsbury remaining as manager. The Pillsbury family would later buy the company back and add Burger King, Green Giant and Haagen-Dazs. Since 2000 the company has been owned by General Mills.