|William Hood Dunwoody|
Portrait of William Hood Dunwoody
by Julian Russell Story (1911)
March 14, 1841|
February 8, 1914 (aged 72)|
William Hood Dunwoody (March 14, 1841 - February 8, 1914) was an American banker, miller, art patron and philanthropist. He was a partner in what is today General Mills and for thirty years a leader of Northwestern National Bank, today's Wells Fargo.
Dunwoody sold American flour to British bakers, creating an export market and environment in which Minneapolis, Minnesota, became for a time the world's center of flour milling. By 1901, he was one of sixteen millionaires in Minneapolis.
Of Scottish descent, Dunwoody was a Quaker but he worshiped as a Presbyterian at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 1684, his maternal ancestors John and Ann Hood and their family emigrated from Castle Donington in Leicestershire, to Pennsylvania. Dunwoody visited the area in 1893, when he and the genealogist he hired tried and failed to find a Quaker meeting place.
He was born March 14, 1841, in Westtown, Pennsylvania, about eleven miles from Philadelphia, to James and Hannah (Hood) Dunwoody, who were farmers. He had two brothers, Evan who lived in Colorado Springs and survived him and John who died in Minneapolis. Dunwoody went to local country schools, and at fourteen he attended an academy in Philadelphia. Dunwoody then worked for five years with his uncle, Ezekiel Dunwoody, who owned a grain and feed business in Philadelphia. Then as senior partner at age 23, he started his own business, Dunwoody & Robertson, and became a flour merchant.
He and Kate L. Dunwoody (Katie L. Patten) married in 1868; they had no children. They made a permanent move to Minneapolis in 1869, when Dunwoody was 28.William Channing Whitney built their first home at Mary Place & 10th Street in 1882, and they later donated the house to the Woman's Boarding Home.
Whitney built their second home in 1905. Called Overlook, the Tudor Revival house had forty-two rooms. Part of a twenty-year battle between the neighborhood association and a developer, it was demolished in 1967.
To start, Dunwoody represented businesses in the east as a flour buyer. In 1871, his business was organized as Tiffany, Dunwoody & Co., under which he owned and managed the Arctic mill; Dunwoody also owned and managed the Union mill and was a member of H. Darrow & Company.
Dunwoody distinguished himself by organizing the Minneapolis Miller's Association, under which millers for a time co-operated in buying wheat. The organization became the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce.
He agreed with Cadwallader C. Washburn that flour could be sold directly to the United Kingdom and in 1877 Washburn arranged his trip there. Through "clouds of insults, uncertanties, and rumors," "Dunwoody made his quiet way." Eventually in 1878 English bakers realized that American flour made more loaves per barrel than English flour. Dunwoody overcame "most determined opposition", successfully arranged for direct export, and set patterns of business that persisted for years. Exports to the United Kingdom and continental Europe increased from a few hundred barrels in 1877 or 1878 to four million barrels in 1895. By 1900, exports peaked at about one third the output of Minneapolis mills.
He became a silent partner in Washburn-Crosby & Company (which became General Mills) with Washburn, John Crosby and Charles Martin. There he oversaw the development of the production of "new process" white flour. The prevailing motto of the time, reflecting Dunwoody's influence and the company's deep conservatism, was, "Addition, division, silence." A reserved and shrewd capitalist, he served a time as vice president of the company and was sometimes in demand because of his banking connections.
In 1888 after Washburn had died and the year when Dunwoody himself was physically ill, he traveled to Philadelphia to recruit James Stroud Bell (father of James Ford Bell who founded General Mills in 1928). After the Pillsbury company was sold to foreign investors, in 1889 Dunwoody helped Bell stop an English syndicate from buying their company. Then United States Milling Company of New York started to speculate and succeeded in buying the rival Northwestern Consolidated. In 1898, Dunwoody bought 75% of his company from the surviving Washburn brothers, preventing a takeover, and making the company operators its owners for the first time.
He was vice president of the Minneapolis Loan & Trust Co. (formally merged with Northwestern in 1934), and at various times president and chairman of the board of Northwestern National Bank (today known as Wells Fargo). Dunwoody was an organizer of the Minneapolis chamber of commerce, and president of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. He was president of the St. Anthony & Dakota, and vice president of the Duluth and the St. Anthony Elevator companies; and president of the Barnum Grain Company. He was a director of the Great Northern Railway.
Dunwoody was ill for six months, reportedly from a heart ailment, and died at his home (104 Groveland Terrace in Minneapolis) on February 8, 1914. Kate Dunwoody died the following year. The couple are buried in Lakewood Cemetery.
Of a total of $4.6 million in gifts in his will, Dunwoody gave $2 million in order to build an industrial trade school for young people, with a focus on handicrafts, useful arts, the milling arts, and construction of milling machinery. Dunwoody felt the entire milling business was threatened by the tendency of young people to enter the "office end" of the business after they graduated from high school. Kate Dunwoody gave an additional $1.6 million on her death in 1915. In 1998, the institute was accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award bachelor's degrees. Today known as Dunwoody College of Technology, it occupies a campus near downtown Minneapolis. As of 2015, Dunwoody offers workforce training and continuing education, and programs in applied management, automotive, computer technology, construction sciences and building technology, design and graphics technology, engineering, radiologic technology, and robotics and manufacturing.
The William Hood Dunwoody Care Center in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, earned 5 of 5 stars as one of the nation's best nursing homes according to U.S. News & World Report in 2015. Dunwoody left one million dollars in his will to build a retirement village in his birthplace.
Dunwoody started Abbott Hospital for Dr. Amos Abbott, who had operated successfully on Kate Dunwoody. The hospital was owned until 1963 by Westminster Presbyterian Church; it merged with Northwestern Hospital to become Abbott Northwestern Hospital and later became part of Allina Health.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art purchased Lucretia (1666) by Rembrandt van Rijn, considered one of the finest Rembrandts in America, with funds from the William Hood Dunwoody Fund of one million dollars. Among thousands of other works, they also bought Olive Trees (1889) part of the final series by Vincent van Gogh. At her death in 1915, Kate Dunwoody gave the institute their personal collection. It included two major works by Constant Troyon, a small work by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, a George Inness and work by Thomas Cole.
Some of the thousands of works from the Minneapolis Institute of Art purchased with The William Hood Dunwoody Fund:
Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan by Paul Cézanne (1885-1886)
Olive Trees with yellow sky and sun by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
The Conch Divers by Winslow Homer (1885)
Portrait of Elizabeth L Burton by Thomas Eakins (circa 1905-06)
Place du Théâtre Français, Paris: Pluie by Camille Pissarro (1898)
Portrait of Moritz Büchner by Lucas Cranach the Elder (circa 1520)
Portrait of Anna Buchner, née Lindacker by Lucas Cranach the Elder (circa 1520)
Landscape by Thomas Cole (1825). Bequest of Mrs. Kate L. Dunwoody.