John Queeny

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Person.png John Queeny  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
John Francis Queeny.jpg
BornAugust 17, 1859
DiedMarch 19, 1933 (Age 73)
Founder ofMonsanto
Member ofKnights of Malta
Founder of infamous Big Chem company Monsanto

John Francis Queeny was an American businessman, known for founding Monsanto Chemical Works (later Monsanto) in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 26, 1901, with $5,000. He named the company for his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto.

Early life

Born in Chicago, Illinois, he attended school for six years until the Great Chicago Fire forced him to seek full-time employment at age 12. Queeny got a job with Tolman and King for $2.50 per week.[1]


He moved to St. Louis in 1897 to work for Meyer Brothers Drug Company, one of the largest wholesale pharmaceutical companies at the time. Two years later, he spent his life savings in purchasing a sulfur refinery; it burned down the next day.

Two years after that, he founded Monsanto Chemical Works, and began producing saccharine, which he sold to Meyer Brothers. He started to turn a profit in 1905, but it was not until 1906 that he left Meyer Brothers to work for Monsanto full-time.[2]

The company's first products were commodity food additives, such as the artificial sweetener saccharine, caffeine and vanillin. Monsanto expanded to Europe in 1919 in a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr, Wales. The venture produced vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid, and later rubber processing chemicals. In the 1920s, Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid and PCBs.

In 1928, Queeny retired from Monsanto was succeeded by his son, Edgar. The company grew to become one of the largest producers of engineered crops in the United States by the 1970s. In 2018, Monsanto was acquired by Bayer for US$66 billion.[3]

Personal life

He married Olga Mendez Monsanto, who was a scioness of the Louisiana Sephardic Jewish Monsanto family[4]. with whom he had two children, including Edgar Monsanto Queeny, who was CEo of Monsanto 1928-1960.[5]


  2. Shepley, Carol Ferring. "Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery". Missouri History Museum: St. Louis, 2008.
  4. Ehrlich, Walter (1997). Zion in the Valley, 1807-1907: Volume I, The Jewish Community of St. Louis. University of Missouri Press.