The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan



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 the Presbyterian.

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.


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