Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan
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BIOGRAPHIES MAIN PAGE
CIMMERER, JOHN A.
Charles Moore, History Of Michigan, Lewis
Publishing Company, Chicago (1915), Vol. IV, pp. 1874, 1877-1878
John A. Cimmerer. A business man and
manufacturer of Saginaw, who is both enterprising and prosperous, Mr. Cimmerer
began his business career without capital, and by his persevering industry and ability has
gained a place where he is regarded among his associates as one of the most aggressive and
far-sighted commercial leaders in the Saginaw Valley. While gaining substantial
rewards of effort for himself, he is also an important factor in making his home city a
center of permanent business and industry.
Born in Erie county, New York, October 9, 1862, he is the third in a family of five
children, born to Henry and Phoebe (Staley) Cimmerer.
[Begin Page 1877] Two of the children are
deceased, and the two still living are Levi and Henry.
In 1873, the parents moved to Michigan, settling in Genessee county. I n that
section in that year pioneer conditions still prevailed to a large extent, and the father,
who was a contractor and builder, was one of the early men in his vocation in that part of
the country, and built many of the first houses in Genessee and Clare counties, and all
over that part of the state. The father is now retired at the age of seventy-eight,
and the mother is seventy-four years of age.
John A. Cimmerer in early youth attended the district schools, and
spent his nights in study. At an early age, his ambition for larger attainment than
the average was evidenced, and in school he showed his disposition as a leader by keeping
up ahead or close to the head of his class. The summer months were never spent in
idleness, and being strong and vigorous at the age of eleven years he took his place at
the side of his father and helped in the heavy work of the farm. While working thus
on the old homestead, a merchant named Stringer from Otisville was
attracted by the evident industry and capability of the boy, and after a conference with
the father, secured the youth's services as clerk in the store. Thus he spent six
months with the firm of Stringer & Osborn, and the following year resumed his studies
in school. The next vacation was spent at work in a flour mill at Otisville,
conducted by his cousin. He spent most of his time there packing flour. That
was followed by another clerical job with a Mr. Patton, and that in turn
by work in a creamery at Flint. That was more or less of a permanent position, and
he held it for considerable time. Then, with a companion, he went to Harrison,
Michigan, and readily found work in the lumber camps of a big firm of W. H. & F. A.
Wilson. Though still a young man, he took his place as a sawyer alongside the
hardiest and strongest and experienced lumbermen, and continued all that winter in the
felling of trees at the lumber camp. The exposure of this severe labor brought on a
cold and such ill health that he was no longer able to stand the rigors of a Michigan
winter in the woods. Leaving the camp he approached Mr. Wilson at
Harrison, explained the situation, and suggested that if given inside work in the saw mill
he would be able to keep on with his work. He was therefore given a position on what
is known as the edger, and at the end of one week had displaced the man who taught him the
job, and better still his health was in a short time entirely restored, and he continued
at the lumber camp until the following May. While on a visit to his parents Mr.
Wilson sent for him to take the management of the camp store, and after that he
remained with the Wilson firm for seven years. That was followed by a period of
business on his own account at Hatton in Clare county, where he remained an independent
merchant for a year and a half, selling out at a good profit. He then resumed
service with Mr. Wilson, on the understanding that in case a proposed
deal in Florida should be consummated by which the Wilson firm was to begin the clearing
and cutting of forty thousand acres of timber, Mr. Cimmerer was to take charge of the
General Store in connection therewith. This proposition was not negotiated, and Mr.
Cimmerer soon resigned and opened a general store at Harrison. His three
years there was marked by success similar to what he had enjoyed at Hatton, and on selling
out he transferred his interests to Saginaw, and engaged in the grocery business.
This kept his energies employed for a year and a half, and since then he has been
connected with a larger field of enterprise. About that time the Highland Vinegar Company was in financial straits, and a company
was organized in Saginaw to buy out the assets. Mr. Cimmerer was
one of these reorganizes and after the purchase had been made the other members of the
syndicate pre- [Begin Page 1878] vailed upon him to take the position of
general manager of the concern, he having been elected secretary and treasurer of the
company. To perform his duties he removed to Highland,
and at once took charge of the plant. Although he knew absolutely nothing about the
manufacture of vinegar and pickling business, he possessed just the aggressive temper and
the openminded intelligence, which seldom fail, when confronted by difficulties that
perseverance may overcome. In a short time he had the company on a paying basis, and
the plant was kept at Highland for eleven years. In
1902, the entire business was removed to Saginaw, large modern building secured from the
Hoyt Estate, and the name of the enterprise changed to the Oakland Vinegar & Pickle
Company. This manufacturing concern is now known all over the country, and its
products are sent to many states. The particular territory in which these products
are distributed are the states of Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and
Michigan. Mr. Cimmerer is now regarded as an expert in
the vinegar and pickling business, and his advice is often sought from outside concerns.
A successful business man himself, he has taken his position among the leaders in
commercial affairs at Saginaw. For two terms he was president of the Saginaw Board
of Trade, resigning at the end of his second term. He is a member of the Board of
Park and Cemetery Commissioners of Saginaw. He is also counsel for this district of
the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. Though a Democrat he has
never sought any honors in politics. His fraternal affiliations are chiefly with the
Masonic Order, in which he has taken the blue lodge, chapter and commandery degrees, and
belongs to the Mystic Shrine; also with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and
with other fraternal associations, is a member of the East Saginaw Club, and his church is
At Flint, Michigan, in 1885, Mr. Cimmerer married Miss Mary
E. Requadt, a daughter of John A. Requadt, now deceased. Mr.
and Mrs. Cimmerer have one child: Mrs. Irma May Hubbell,
who was born in Harrison, Michigan, and now lives in Saginaw, the mother of one child, Mary
Elizabeth Hubbell, born in 1911. Mr. Cimmerer owns a fine
home in Saginaw, and a summer cottage at White Lake, Michigan, where he and his wife and
daughter spend their vacations.