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John Franklin Haskell is the Topeka and Kansas representative of the greatest creamery organization in America. He is general manager and vice president of the Beatrice Creamery Company, consolidated, with headquarters in Topeka.
Both he and his brother George Everett have long been prominently identified with this business. His brother George E., who is president of the Beatrice Creamery Company, lives in Chicago. George was the founder of the industry at Beatrice, Nebraska, about 1890. He pushed the enterprise with so much success that it soon outgrew the limits of its home city, but the company still bears the name of that Nebraska town. The headquarters were removed to Lincoln, and since 1913 the main offices have been in Chicago. It was the first centralized creamery business and is today the largest institution of its kind in the United States.
John Franklin Haskell was born in Mitchell County, Iowa, October 12, 1862, and four years later his father died. The fact of his father’s death is mentioned at this point because John F. Haskell soon had to shift for himself, and his business success and prominence has been due to his own efforts rather than the training and environment of early youth. His father was Josiah Haskell, a native of Michigan, where he was born in 1836, and an early settler in the State of Iowa. Josiah and his brothers Thomas and John were soldiers in the Civil war, Josiah serving four years in Company K of the Twenty-seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He himself became a permanent invalid as a result of his service, while his brother John was killed in battle. The brother Thomas went through the war and returned home, but had at least one narrow escape from death. That makes an interesting incident. Thomas Haskell with four other Union soldiers were detached as guards for the Confederate prisoners. Along with the Confederates they also had under arrest one Union man who was being kept for a misdemeanor. While they were guarding their prisoners a colored woman came along selling pies. The guards bought some of the pies, ate generously of them, and in a few minutes they were all taken violently ill. Though it was not so diagnosed at the time, it was undoubtedly a case of ptomaine poisoning. All the guards died within a few hours except Thomas, who survived the painful ordeal. He and his comrades were somewhat isolated from the rest of the Union troops, and had it not been for the instinctive loyalty displayed by the Union soldier who was also under arrest the prisoners might easily have overpowered the stricken guards and made their escape. This Union soldier, taking in the situation, at once picked up a musket and stood guard over the Confederates until relief came.
Josiah Haskell married Miss Lodica Prince. She was born in New York, and a short time before the Civil war her father removed to Missouri. He was a Union man in a state where the predominant opinion was strongly hostile to his belief, and he found it convenient to leave Missouri and move to Iowa. Josiah Haskell and wife were the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters: The daughters were Ida May and Nellie, the former of whom died in 1887 and the latter in 1908. Reference has already been made to the older son George Everett, president of the Beatrice Creamery Company.
John Franklin Haskell had to content himself with a brief schooling. He left home and began earning his own way at the age of thirteen. At first he was employed on a farm and afterward found a job in a flour and feed mill. In 1880 he went to Wisconsin and began taking contracts to supply fuel for the tow-boats on the Mississippi River. These boats were engaged in towing logs and lumber rafts and that old phase of the lumber traffic is something that has long since disappeared. Giving up that line of business in 1888 Mr. Haskell entered a general store at Lynxville, Wisconsin, and for three years was engaged in buying and selling eggs.
In 1892 he went out to Beatrice, Nebraska, and found employment with the Haskell and Bosworth Creamery Company, which was the nucleus of the present great enterprise of the Beatrice Creamery Company. After a short time he was sent to Cuba, Kansas, and given charge of a branch house of the company for two years, and then was located at Herington, Kansas, taking charge of the large branch house there and being given full charge of the entire Kansas business. In 1904 Mr. Haskell removed to Topeka and became manager of the produce department of the Continental Creamery Company, which not long afterward was reorganized as the Beatrice Creamery Company. During 1914 he was president of the Topeka Commercial Club and was president of the Topeka Traffie Bureau from the spring of 1914 until the spring of 1910.
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In 1882 Mr. Haskell married Miss Helen Lorraine Peck of Lynxville, Wisconsin. Mr. Haskell has some children of whom he may well be proud. The seven children born to their marriage were: Leona Violet, Clinton Howard, Helen Lorraine, Frankie Delphine, Everett Erskine, Willard Vernon, and Gladys, who died in childhood. Leona lives at home with her parents. Clinton, who married Miss Ethel Miller of Topeka, has charge of the office force of the Beatrice Creamery Company in Denver. Helen, who lives at home, was graduated from Washburn College in 1915. Frankie also graduated at Washburn in 1915 and is now pursuing post-graduate studies in the Columbia University. Everett is a merchant at Lyndon, Osage County. Willard is a student in the Topeka High School.