John Hormel was a man of everything

Published 3:55 pm Sunday, March 8, 2015

John Godfrey Hormel was born in Toledo, Ohio, on March 12, 1876. He was another of George’s brothers who contributed to the success of the George A. Hormel and Company business. George was 15 years John’s senior, but he found great value in including his brother in the business.

John completed high school in the Toledo Public School system in 1893, and, upon graduating, moved to Austin to begin a 40 plus year career with his brother in the meat packing business.

According to the November 1941, “Squeal,” the Hormel News Magazine, John “did about everything there was to do at one time or another in the packing house. His covering of a sales territory by bicycle in the ‘90’s (1890’s) is recorded in the Annals. For the latter years of his service he was the purchasing agent of the company.”

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John married Mary Foster of Ottumwa, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 15, 1904. According to the Mower County Transcript on September 21, 1904 the couple was married “at the residence of the bride’s parents in Ottumwa. W.H. Hormel officiated assisted by Dr. Stoltz. There were about 150 guests present. A large number of beautiful wedding gifts were received. Mr. and Mrs. Hormel have gone to Denver and Colorado Springs on a trip and will be at home after Oct. 1 in this city.”

I wondered how John would have made contact with a single lady from Ottumwa, Iowa, without social media, but it became clear as I researched the Hormel family, and the Company’s, connection to the town 250 miles to the south. John’s brother (and George’s), William Henry, had moved to Ottumwa to pastor the Presbyterian Church. One of his parishioners was Thomas Foster, the head of the John Morrell & Company branch operating there. The Hormel Company was developing a working relationship with Morrell and Mr. Foster. My guess is that is how John came to meet Mr. Foster’s daughter, Mary.

The couple had one son, Thomas Foster Hormel, born on July 6, 1905, but he died in 1906. Mary’s death followed on July 4, 1907, due to ongoing heart issues that plagued her from her childhood.  Mary was spoken of very highly in her obituary in the Austin Weekly Herald dated July 9, 1907. “Austin mourns almost as one family in the sudden death of Mrs. John G. Hormel.”

I will end here, with John’s first wife’s passing, and will continue next week with additional information regarding his life and community contribution in Austin.

History Happy Hour


Social time is at 5:30 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.

Living the Mayberry Life, presented by Gary Schindler. Free to members of the MCHS, HHH, or Friends of the Library. $5 for non-members.

 Art For Autism Night

7 p.m., March 13

Attendees will enjoy creating a painting that represents Autism. These works of art will then be displayed and sold at the Austin ArtWorks Center for the month of April. Cost is $35 per person. Go to to view paintings.