Max C. Fleischmann

I set out to check the spelling of the name Fleischmann and wound up learning a great deal about Major Max C. Fleischmann. One of the great wonders of the internet is when it works you can learn a lot in a hurry.

The son of a successful Austro-Hungarian immigrant, Max Fleischmann seems to have made the most of his time on earth. In addition to owning Fleischmann's Yeast and being a principle stockholder of General Foods, he is variously credited with being the first observation balloon school commander for US forces in Europe, mayor of both Cincinnati and Santa Barbara, CA, philanthropist donating hundreds of millions of dollars in value, hunter, yachtsman, aviator, parachutist and even (if I read the information correctly, it could have been his father or uncle) one time part owner of the Reds baseball team.

Long before I knew anything more about him, it was obvious Max Fleischmann had been a significant benefactor in the Santa Barbara area. He helped fund construction of the Santa Barbara breakwater and harbor for his yacht Haida. The Sansum Medical Foundation, a leader in research areas such as diabetes, was for a time funded by a Fleischmann grant. He and his wife made significant contributions to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. I suspect there are other area benefits of which I am unaware.

What surprised me was the extent of his contributions in Nevada as well, where he seems to have spent the balance of his years after leaving California. There is a biography, which I have not yet read, available here.

Among the photos in my collection, dating from approximately 1910-1925, are photos of an early Curtis float plane, a US military balloon school, a couple of his yachts (all of which appear to have been named Haida), hunting trips to Africa and various other trips, including Alaska and Siberia.

One of the more interesting personal tidbits relates to an old story, oft repeated around Santa Barbara, That Fleischmann's wife, Sara, shot a tiger on one of their safaris. Interestingly, about the only photo in the collection of her with a trophy animal happens to be a Rhinoceros. Is it possible the favorite old story has a factual error. The rhino photo is not conclusive proof, but it suggests an interesting alternative to the story.

As time allows, I will begin scanning and posting some of the more interesting photos. With somewhere between 600-800 images, it may be a while.

Some Information Sources:

US Air Force Museum

Early Birds of Aviation

Page about Max Fleischmann on another Early Birds web site

History of Fleischmann's Yeast

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