Lewisburg Steam Roller Flour Mills
1885 - 1900
1898 Sanborn Fire Map
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, Sanborn Maps Collection
John Handley built a steam powered roller flouring mill in 1885 on the lot that once housed the Donnally glove factory. The mill was located on an alley that extended from the end of Lafayette St. up the hill to Lee St. The mill was later sold to Cox & Hodson, then to Alderson & Dunbar when in 1899 it was destroyed by fire. The Sanborn fire map (1898) shows Cox & Hodson's new 1886 flour mill as a 3 story frame building with no watchman but water pails on each floor, coal stove for heat, kerosene lanterns for light, and powered by a coal fired steam engine. There were 2 stone grinders on the first floor, 3 sets of rollers on the second floor, and a smut mill, scourer, bran duster, and blower on the third floor. A diagram showing the elevators and machines in a typical 3-story mill can be seen here and the Cox mill might have had a similar configuration.
Several announcements taken from the Greenbrier Independent summarize the major developments of the mill by the three different owners. Information in the following paragraphs is taken from a larger collection of newspaper clippings, deeds, and other sources. The entire collection can be read by clicking here.
1885 – 1886 Lutz & Handley
February 5, 1885
A New Enterprise in Lewisburg Messrs. C.H. Lutz and John O. Handley have purchased the building and lot near Beirne's Spring, in Lewisburg, known as the Glove Factory property, upon which they propose to establish a Steam Mill for the purpose of engaging in a general milling business. With this object in view they have also purchased of Mr. A.E. White one of Frick's large and improved Engines of sufficient power to run their machinery. Mr. Lutz left Lewisburg this week for Cincinnati to secure the necessary machinery for manufacturing wheat into flour, grinding corn, &c. The old brick building on the lot will at once be reconstructed for mill purposes, and the firm hopes to have their establishment in full operation at the end of about six weeks. Greenbrier Independent vol 19 no. 35
1886 – 1897 Cox & Hodson
March 25, 1886
The interest owned by Mr. C.H. Lutz in the Lewisburg Steam Flouring Mill has been purchased by Mr. John G. Cox. The new addition to the mill - a frame building 40 x60 feet and three stories high – has just been completed and the machinery transferred and set to running. As the changes were progressing, in the building, several important arrangements for the better running of the machinery were made. An additional bolting machine was introduced. Also an appliance for the elevation of the grain to the upper floors by steam power and not by muscle as heretofore, The public henceforth has a right to expect from the establishment as fine flours as can be gotten anywhere in the country. . Mr. Lutz is stepping out of a good thing, but thinks (or hopes) he is stepping into a better by removing to and accepting a proposition in Florida in another line of business.
Greenbrier Independent vol 20 no. 42
August 26, 1886
The steam flouring mill of Cox & Hodson is one of the largest buildings in the town. It is a three story frame, and furnished out with the most improved machinery. And as frequent allusions have heretofore been made in our columns, it is only necessary to hint that they are driving a good business. Four hands are kept almost constantly employed.
Greenbrier Independent vol 21 no. 12
April 11, 1895
A stroke of lightning on Monday evening last caused more excitement here than has been witnessed from a similar cause for years. It struck Mr. H.W. Donnally's house, shocked Mrs. Donnally, tore the doors off a safe, and caused three teams to run away. - Two of the teams were on Main Street and the other started from Mr. J.G. Cox's mill. The first one belonged to Mr. Thos. Lynch, and the wagon was completely wrecked and the horses were considerably cut and scarred. The other two teams were stopped before any damage was done. Greenbrier Independent vol 29 no. 46
1897-1906: Alderson & Dunbar
November 10, 1897
The Cox mill and lot sold at auction by the Court Commissioner is conveyed to Alderson, Dunbar, and Knapp by Deed 51-181: “. . . that real estate, mill, machinery, and fixtures . . . known as the Lewisburg Roller Mill, together with all fixtures, appliances, and machinery therein, and also all the water rights and privileges. . . “
November 10, 1898
Flour and Buckwheat flour exchanged for corn or wheat. We have specially prepared Graham flour for bread and meals. It is not necessary to spoil your meat with the common compounds of lime, magnesium barium, &c. when for a few cents more per barrel we can furnish you the genuine Kanawha salt. And in a few days we will be able to supply our patrons with what brick they may want. Lewisburg Roller Mills.
Greenbrier Independent vol 33 #25
(note: After finding this ad, the J.Q. Dickinson & Co. was contacted and they replied that theirs was the only saltworks operating in the Kanawha Valley in the 1890s and would have supplied salt to the Lewisburg Roller Mills. It is remarkable that 120 years later, Dickinson salt can still be purchased in Lewisburg.)
March 8, 1899
Lewisburg is again the victim of another disastrous fire, this time resulting in the destruction of the roller process flouring mill of Messrs. Dunbar, Alderson & Co., and the Lewisburg Creamery Company's plant. There were about 1,500 bushels of wheat in the mill at the time. Insurance, $1,500. The fire occurred at five o'clock in the morning and is known to be the work of an incendiary. The Weekly Register Point Pleasant
December 14, 1906
The 3/16 acre Mill Lot is sold to E.H. Sydenstricker: “. . . all of that lot of land known as the Mill Lot near the Beirne Spring bounded as follows: beginning at street at corner of Echols Creamery Lot . . . together with all water rights and other rights apportioned to said lot of land and all buildings thereon. . . “ Deed 72-394
All deeds are on file in the County Clerk's Office in the Greenbrier County Courthouse. Deeds are
identified as 'book no.–page no.'
The Greenbrier Independent newspaper was researched at the Greenbrier County Historical Society archives at the North House Museum, Lewisburg, WV, where a digitized version is available.