Robert A. Holekamp
Robert August Holekamp (May 4, 1848 – May 1, 1922) was a businessman and apiarist from the St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 suburb of Webster Groves
Webster Groves, Missouri
Webster Groves is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States. The population was 22,995 at the 2010 census. The city is named after New England politician Daniel Webster....

, Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. Holekamp was significant in the development of Webster Groves, and had state and national influence in the field of beekeeping.

Childhood in Germany

Holekamp was born the son of a Lutheran minister in Nordstemmen
Nordstemmen is a village and a municipality in the district of Hildesheim, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the river Leine, approx. 10 km west of Hildesheim, and 25 km south of Hanover.-External links:...

, Hanover Province, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. At the age of 14, he went to Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

 to attend college. In 1868 he joined the German army and served for two years, leaving as a non-commissioned officer. In 1870, he came to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and settled in St. Louis.

Business endeavors

Upon arriving in St. Louis, Holekamp worked for various employers before becoming the manager at a door and sash dealer. In 1879, Holekamp and James Gray organized the firm Gray & Holekamp, a wholesale manufacturer and distributor of sashes and doors, and grew the company into the largest dealer in St. Louis. In early 1885, Holekamp bought Gray’s ownership interest and in December of that year he sold the company to Charles H. Huttig for $40,000. Gray & Holekamp is known today as Huttig Building Products, is the largest distributor of building products in the United States, and is traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

Companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange (H)


With the intention of retiring to the country, in 1866 Holekamp moved to a farm located three miles outside of Annapolis
Annapolis, Missouri
Annapolis is a city that was nearly wiped out by the Great Tri-State Tornado in 1925 located in Iron County, Missouri, United States. The population was 310 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Annapolis is located at ....

 in Iron County, Missouri
Iron County, Missouri
Iron County is a county located in the Lead Belt region in Southeast Missouri in the United States. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 10,697. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 9,918. The largest city and county seat is Ironton...

. He later purchased and operated a saw mill in that area.

In 1901, Holekamp returned to St. Louis where he purchased a surgical instrument company which he named Holekamp, Grady & Moore. He sold the company after operating it for 7 years.

In 1908, Holekamp co-founded the Holekamp Lumber Company in Webster Groves with his four sons. Holekamp moved to Webster Groves and served as the firm’s president. In addition to the wholesale and retail sale of lumber and hardware, the firm was active in real estate development. Holekamp and his sons established many of the subdivisions and built many of the homes in Webster Groves, in neighboring Kirkwood
Kirkwood, Missouri
Kirkwood is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County, Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,540. Founded in 1853, the city is named for James Pugh Kirkwood, builder of the Pacific Railroad through that town. It was the first planned suburb located west...

, and in the surrounding southwestern suburbs of St. Louis. By the time of Holekamp’s death, Holekamp Lumber operated six lumberyards (St. Louis, Maplewood
Maplewood, Missouri
Maplewood is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County. The population was 8,046 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Maplewood is located at ....

, Affton
Affton, Missouri
Affton is an unincorporated inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA. As of the 2010 census, the community had a total population of 20,307.-Geography:...

, Webster Groves, Kirkwood, and Gray Summit
Gray Summit, Missouri
Gray Summit is a census-designated place in Franklin County, Missouri, United States. The population was 2,640 at the 2000 census. Also called Gray's Summit, it was founded by Daniel Gray of New York who built a hotel here in 1845. This community was the highest point on the Missouri Pacific...

), and the company would remain in business until the mid 1980’s.

Leading apiarist

While living in rural Annapolis, Missouri, Holekamp developed an interest in apiology
Apiology is the scientific study of honey bees, a subdiscipline of melittology, which is itself a branch of entomology...

 and began beekeeping. He continued the hobby upon his return to St. Louis, and Holekamp became among the first to engage in urban apiculture in the United States.

Concerned about the spread of foulbrood
American foulbrood
American foulbrood , caused by the spore- forming Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae , is the most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases. Paenibacillus larvae is a rod-shaped bacterium, which is visible only under a high power microscope...

 disease among bees in Missouri, Holekamp proposed a bill and successfully lobbied both houses of the Missouri State Legislature to pass a law to address the epidemic. When the measure was unexpectedly vetoed by Governor Joseph W. Folk
Joseph W. Folk
Joseph "Holy Joe" Wingate Folk was an American lawyer, reformer, and politician from St. Louis, Missouri.Raised in a strict Baptist household in Brownsville, Tennessee, Folk first made his reputation as a lawyer for transit workers in the St. Louis Streetcar Strike of 1900...

 in 1908, Holekamp personally appealed to the Governor and convinced him to change his mind. Holekamp's bill created the state office of bee inspector, making Missouri among the first states to regulate the commercial beekeeping industry. Holekamp actively advised the new bureau, and continued to regularly testify for the state on matters of apiculture.

Holekamp was a judge at the Missouri State Fair
Missouri State Fair
The Missouri State Fair is the state fair for Missouri which has operated since 1901 in Sedalia, Missouri. It lasts 11 days. It includes daily concerts, exhibits and competitions of animals, homemade crafts, shows, and many food/lemonade stands. Its most famous event, which has run since its...

 for several years, was the superintendent of the bee exhibit at the 1920 Oklahoma State Fair
Oklahoma State Fair
The Oklahoma State Fair is a large fair and exposition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It takes place in mid-September each year, and is one of two state fairs in Oklahoma. During an 11-day run, the Oklahoma State Fair attracts close to one million people. By a small margin, it is larger in attendance...

, was the apiary
An apiary is a place where beehives of honey bees are kept. Traditionally beekeepers paid land rent in honey for the use of small parcels. Some farmers will provide free apiary sites, because they need pollination, and farmers who need many hives often pay for them to be moved to the crops when...

 superintendent for the University of Missouri
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri System is a state university system providing centralized administration for four universities, a health care system, an extension program, five research and technology parks, and a publishing press. More than 64,000 students are currently enrolled at its four campuses...

, served as a member of the Executive Board of the Honey Producers' League, and served for several years on the Board of Directors for the National Beekeepers’ Association of the United States and Canada.

Holekamp died in 1922 after a brief illness and heart trouble. The banks in Maplewood and Webster Groves were closed on the day of his funeral in observance of his passing.
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