top of page

The Douglas Family

Married in 1892, George and Irene (Hazeltine) Douglas initially lived as a couple in George's parents’ home at 500 First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids. George's father, George Douglas Sr., was a native of Scotland who partnered with Robert Stuart to start the Douglas & Stuart cereal mill in 1873. After his father's death, George Bruce Douglas Jr. was active with the cereal and oatmeal mill until 1891 when it was merged with the Quaker Oats Company.


Expecting their first child in 1897, George and Irene Douglas were ready to move into their new home.  The splendid new house was quickly occupied by the new parents, baby Margaret, and several servants.


Many important social functions occurred in the Douglas home between 1897 and 1906.  Lavish parties were held and many of the leading families of the Cedar Rapids and Linn County communities attended events during the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. In addition, Douglas made his home available for discussions among prominent businessmen of the time of major issues related to the development of the Cedar Rapids area.


Douglas and his brother Walter established Douglas & Co., a new corn starch factory in Cedar Rapids. It was located along the west bank of the Cedar River between the Ninth Avenue railroad bridge and Riverside Park. By 1910, it was the largest starch industry west of the Mississippi River.  After a devastating explosion in 1919, Douglas & Co. was rebuilt as a Penick & Ford factory. In more recent years, this industry has been known as Penford Products and Ingredion.


Young Margaret Douglas attended classes at the old Jackson elementary school located at 1052 Fourth Avenue SE. In 1903, she was photographed with her kindergarten classmates including Robert Armstrong who would later be involved with the Armstrong Department Store founded by his father in downtown Cedar Rapids. Mamie Doud, who would grow up to become First lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower, was also in Margaret’s kindergarten class.

bottom of page