Santa Barbara County
LINCOLN ELLSWORTH MOSES
For many years Lincoln Ellsworth Moses occupied a position of national leadership in the American milling industry. During his long and active career in the west his business interests were broad and diversified, but his most important single achievement was the creation of the Kansas Flour Mills Company and it was as a spokesman for the milling industry that he was best known throughout the country at large.
Lincoln Ellsworth Moses was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, October 15, 1860, a son of Amasa Cassius and Naomi A. (Terry) Moses. An interesting account of his ancestry will be found in the sketch of Edward Walter Moses on another page of this history. He was not quite eleven years old when he accompanied the family to central Kansas, where educational facilities were almost entirely lacking. What schools did exist were of the crudest, frontier type and as a consequence Mr. Moses was obliged to educate himself through his own reading. From his earliest years his life was crowded with activity, working long hours on a farm or in his father’s general store. At thirteen he entered the furniture business and at fifteen became a graduate pharmacist, an occupation he adopted with the eventual purpose of studying medicine. This plan, however, was later abandoned.
In 1881, at the age of twenty-one, Mr. Moses established a store at Pueblo, Colorado, where he quickly rose to prominence in the business life of the town and extended his activities broadly to include such interests as real estate and mining. He also entered politics. During the next quarter of a century he and his six brothers became widely known throughout the west and their efforts brought them a modest fortune. Seeking larger opportunities Mr. Moses joined with two of his brothers, Clayton L. and Edward W., in the Moses Brothers Mill and Elevator Company in 1905. This venture marked his first entry into the field in which he achieved his greatest distinction. Headquarters of the company were situated at Great Bend, Kansas, and within six years the capacity of the mill had almost doubled, while the number of elevators controlled by the firm had increased to twenty-six. Realizing the advantage which an inclusive organization would have in the industry, Mr. Moses now began negotiations with the leading flour mills of Kansas and Oklahoma, and at length succeeded in effecting a merger of all their properties. The Kansas Flour Mills Company came into existence, and of this corporation he was president from its formation in 1911 until his retirement in 1925. His leadership was the dominant factor in the development of the company to preeminence in its field. It became the largest millers of hard winter-wheat in the world and the most influential single organization in the American industry, operating eleven mills, with a total productive capacity of over 20,000 barrels per day, and a great chain of elevators throughout the wheat country.
As executive head of the Kansas Flour Mills Company Mr. Moses spoke with authority in the industry. In 1916 he became president of the Southwestern Millers League and in the nine years which intervened before his retirement he brought this association to a position of prominence in national trade councils. He was very active during the years of the World war and those immediately following in settling the controversies arising from the necessity for war-time control of the grain industry. In the course of effecting these settlements he became personally known to almost all official Washington, and particularly to members of the National Congress, who entertained the highest respect for his abilities and integrity. In 1920 he was instrumental in having set aside the departmental ruling that arrival drafts were subject to the stamp tax under the Internal Revenue Act of 1920. In the face of legal opinions to the contrary, he was able to convince William G. McAdoo, secretary of the treasury, and Daniel Roper, commissioner of internal revenue, that such, in fact, was not the intent of the law and as a result arrival commercial drafts were exempted from payment of the tax, with consequent large savings to all branches of the milling industry. This was an achievement of which he was always very proud. Mr. Moses’ influence was also decisive in determining wheat and flour duties inserted in the tariff act of 1922 to assist the American grower and miller to combat the dangers of Canadian “dumping.” He was chiefly responsible for the milling-in-transit rules at present in force on American railroads and in general exerted a wholesome and constructive influence throughout the industry until his retirement. In addition to these connections he had important interests in the oil and mining industries and in the manufacture of automobiles.
In 1915 Mr. Moses retired from most of his active interests and divided his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Kansas City, Missouri, but maintaining his legal residence always at the town of his boyhood, Great Bend, Kansas. Although he was predominantly a man of action Mr. Moses possessed the intellectual habits of the scholar and was particularly interested in philosophy and anthropology. He was a life-long member of the Congregational Church and was a Mason of high standing and a Shriner. He was also a member of the Kansas City and Blue Hills Country Clubs of Kansas City, Missouri, and the La Cumbre Golf and Country Club of Santa Barbara, California. Gold was his favorite diversion.
On May 12, 1891, at Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lincoln Ellsworth Moses married Gertrude, daughter of Charles B. and Margaret (Pritzmann) Tucker, the former a Minneapolis merchant. They became the parents of two children: Edward Walter, who is mentioned at length on another page of this history; and Margaret, who married Robert Scott Osgood. Mr. Moses died December 18, 1928, near Syracuse, Kansas, in the course of a railroad journey. His death brought to its close a career of unusual achievement, in which he won both success and honor. It was said of him that he was “high-minded, idealistic, determined, courageous, even tempered, kindly and inflexibly honest.” These are qualities which can excite only admiration, and it was so with Mr. Moses. He was respected by all his associates and enjoyed the warm regard of a large circle of personal friends.
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: California of the South Vol. V, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 127-130, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 Cecelia M. Setty.