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Iowa History Daily: November 25 - T.D. Foster & Morrell Meat's

Iowa History Daily: On November 25, 1847, President of Morrell Meat Packing Thomas Dove Foster was born. An influential business and civic leader of Ottumwa, Foster helped to establish one of Iowa’s most important 20th meat-packing operations.

During 1827, George Morrell founded a wholesale food provision business in Bradford, England. Expanding rapidly over the course of the 1800s, the company got a foothold in North America by the late 1860s. Born in Bradford, Thomas Dove Foster was a grandson of founder George Morrell. After starting in the company’s Irish hog packing plants, Thomas Dove Foster got the assignment to move to the American Midwest when the company expanded to Chicago.

T. D., as most of his contemporaries knew him, moved the company's American packing operations to Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1877. Foster saw himself as a friend of the plant’s workers, and prided himself on how all of his workers recognized him by his red hair. Foster also prided himself on civic participation, and proved instrumental in the construction of Ottumwa’s first YMCA. In 1893, T. D. Foster rose to chairman of both the English and American meatpacking operations of the company until his death in Ottumwa during 1915. His son, Thomas Henry Foster, took over leadership of the family business.

Spurred to growth by World War I, the demand for pork products paired with the company’s international presence to accelerate sales, especially of bacon and lard, during the Great War. In a market position as the leading American pork exporter to England before the war, the company’s ability to source, process, and send pork from Iowa farmers abroad accelerated the company’s growth. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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