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Theodore F. Ismert, president of the Ismert-Hincke Milling Company of Kansas City, Kansas, is a director and controlling factor in the great milling industries of the Missouri Valley. He and his family have been prominently identified with flour milling in this and other states of the Middle West for over half a century.
The Ismerts are of French lineage. Theodore F. Ismert was born at his father’s home in Lebanon, Illinois, February 10, 1866, the oldest of five children. Only two are now living, his sister being Mrs. Hincke. Their parents were John and Amelia (Berrard) Ismert, both natives of France. It was to take advantage of the glorious opportunities held out in America at the time that John Ismert came to the United States at the age of fifteen. Some of his uncles were then located near Buffalo, New York, and were identified with the milling industry there. John Ismert came over in a sailing vessel. Miss Berrard came about the same time with one of her brothers. They lived in the French settlement around Buffalo. At the age of seventeen in 1858 John Ismert made the long and dangerous journey to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. He joined actively in the adventurous life of the far West, prospected seven years, had varied fortunes and misfortunes, and afterwards he always considered that he was lucky to return to civilization alive. On his return to New York he married and in 1865 moved to St. Clair County, Illinois. There he operated a flour mill and in 1871, through the influence of Jean Pierre, an uncle, who had come to Kansas shortly after the war and was a farmer near Wyandotte, John Ismert also came to the state and acquired an interest in the firm known as Zeitz & Ismert. This was a milling business conducted on a small scale and was continued until 1877, when the plant was sold. John Ismert then removed to Hutchinson, Kansas, and conducted the mill standing on the present site of the railway station. Here the firm was known as Edward, Ismert & Company. In 1878 John Ismert sold his Hutchinson interests and removed to Europe where he placed his son Theodore in one of the noted colleges of that country at Longuyon. He himself returned to Illinois and for a number of years was a prominent miller at Murphysboro, Jonesboro and other points.
In 1905 Theodore Ismert induced his father to build the large plant at Kansas City, Kansas, now conducted under the firm name of the Ismert-Hincke Milling Company. This mill had a capacity of twenty-five hundred barrels per day and is one of the largest single mills in Kansas. In 1916 the firm bought the Crosby Mills at Topeka and rebuilt and remodeled them. John Ismert was a republican in politics, an active Catholic and the type of man who assists and supports every laudable movement in the community. His death occurred April 21, 1915, while his widow is still living in Kansas City, Missouri.
Theodore Ismert was liberally educated. For a time he attended the Wyandotte common schools, but at the age of twelve went to France with his father and spent five years in the collegiate institution already noted. There he acquired a thorough knowledge of German and French as well as other studies. At the age of seventeen he returned to the United States and after one year in the Bryant & Stratton Business College in St. Louis began milling with his father. He learned the milling processes in every detail, worked with the machinery and also in the business offices, and for a time bought wheat and sold flour on the road. Since 1905 he had had his business headquarters at Kansas City, Kansas, and from that point his interest extends to several mills throughout the state. Mr. Ismert had won his business prominence by a close application to and a comprehensive knowledge of his work. He is public spirited in everything that concerns his community welfare, and while a loyal republican had never considered office holding as in line with his strict duties. He is an active member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Knights of Pythias and had held the chairs in both lodges. His wife is prominent in the Catholic Church at Kansas City, Kansas.
On October 24, 1888, Mr. Ismert married Miss Cceelia Stewart. Her father Martin Stewart was a pioneer settler in Kansas, having located in Wyandotte County in 1853. He was one of the first county commissioners and owned a large farm where Parkwood now stands. He was a man of positive opinions and though he got on quite well with the mixed element in his section of Kansas during territorial days, he usually went about armed since life and property were not secure for a number of years. The first mass said by the bishop in old Wyandotte County was said in Mr. Stewart’s home. Mr. and Mrs. Ismert are the parents of five children: Martin E., city sales manager of the Milling Company; Gerald S., secretary and manager of the Topeka Mills; John Henry, a miller by trade; Irene and Clement A., both of whom are in the public schools. Mr. Ismert had always provided wisely but liberally for his family and had sought to give them the very finest of educational opportunities.