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Home / Guide Collections / Schimmelpfennig Family Mill Collection

Schimmelpfennig Family Mill Collection

Cover of a calendar provided to customers of Schimmelpfennig Introduction

The Schimmelpfennig Family Mill Collection contains materials relating to the family's grain mill and family life in Sigourney, Iowa and spans the years of 1929-2001. The collection is 3.75 linear feet and occupies 8 boxes. The materials are in good condition. There are three envelopes at the end of the collection that are restricted from viewing to the public without express permission of the family. The rest of the collection may be viewed and used with no restrictions at Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland.

Materials found in the collection range from bound ledgers and account books detailing the operation of the mill to personal diaries and ephemera collected as the family traveled the United States visiting other old mills similar to their own.

The material was donated by David Schimmelpfennig, the grandson and great-grandson of the original owners of the Schimmelpfennig Family Mill.

This collection was partially arranged and described by Amanda Nelson in 2010 with assistance from Karen Sichelman-Edwards and Mark Levengood in 2009. Steps involved in partial arrangement and description include surveying materials, placing materials in order by subject, foldering and boxing materials, and writing an index or box list for the collection. This basic finding aid provides introductory and biographical information as well as the box list.

See also the online exhibit.


Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) acquires, arranges, describes, preserves and makes available rare materials significant to the history of agriculture. Materials are obtained through donation or active collection in accordance with the established Special Collections collection development policy. Special Collections staff organize and describe materials according to archival principles and create descriptions and indexes to enhance access. Staff do not edit or otherwise modify the original materials. The views expressed in the collections do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National Agricultural Library or the United States Department of Agriculture.

Biographical Sketch

The information that follows was taken directly from The History of Keokuk County, Iowa: Communities and its Families, Preserving the Past and Present. Keo-Mah Genealogical Society, Inc., 2001.

August (Gust) Schimmelpfennig (1876-1949), married Enza Messerschmidt (1885-1956) of Martinsburg, Iowa. He owned a hardware store in Delta, Iowa and later the "Old Red Mill" in Sigourney before it was destroyed by a fire in the early 1920s. He resumed activity in the milling and feed business by purchasing what became Schimmelpfennig's Mill with his oldest son Everett (1908-1974) in 1929. The early years were plagued by the Great Depression when many lost their businesses and properties because they were unable to make payments for mortgage and taxes. Everett went on the road in and around the county selling calf vitamins to take in enough money to meet those obligations for the mill. The mill stayed in the family until 1958 when it was purchased by Walter Applegate and later sold to Charles Cassens. Everett married Helen Mary Zaki (1909-1994), a Sigourney High School friend and they had two children, Hal Everett (1932- ) and Marylee (1938- ). Hal Everett and his wife, Jean B. Wilson (1930- ) had a son, David Everett (1959- ) who is an economist with the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Scope and Content Note

The Schimmelpfennig Family Mill Collection contains a wide variety of materials that document the operation of the mill and the family's lives from 1929 to 2001. The collection is arranged by the type of record with similar records placed together in the order they were given to Special Collections.

The first four boxes of the collection are bound ledgers and account books containing detailed accounting of transactions at the mill from its inception in 1929 through 1987. Some of the ledgers are oversize and so have been separated into the oversize box at the end of the collection. Along with their mill, the Schimmelpfennig family was interested in the history and preservation of old mills throughout the United States. Some of the periodicals and ephemera collected on their various trips can be found in Box 4 and 5. Also, Box 5 contains a hard bound book describing the history of Keokuk County, Iowa, where the mill was located, and the families that have lived there. Box 5 and 6 include the diaries of Helen Zaki Schimmelpfennig from 1938-1965, in which she describes her daily life and activities at the mill and diaries from one of the owners of the mill. After the diaries, Box 6 houses financial papers from World War II including ration books, newspaper clippings mentioning the mill, examples of calendars produced by the Schimmelpfenning mill for their customers, and tax returns that are restricted to users.


The History of Keokuk County, Iowa: Communities and its Families, Preserving the Past and Present. Keo-Mah Genealogical Society, Inc., 2001.