Sanborn 1905 Fire Map
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, Sanborn Maps Collection
Lewisburg Milling & Electric Light Co.
1900 - 1907
James Withrow built a brick building along Jefferson Street for his tannery around 1825 where it operated for the next 75 years. It was torn down in 1900 and a 3-story steam powered flour mill with a dynamo was built on the original 1825 foundation for the Lewisburg Milling and Electric Light Company. The layout of the machinery and the flow pf the grain in the mill may have been similar to what is shown in this diagram.
In addition to its primary function as a high quality grain and flour mill, the company brought electricity to Lewisburg for the first time, two years after an electric plant opened in Ronceverte(1). It was so successful that two years later, a larger engine and dynamo replaced the original machines and a 3-story wheat elevator for grain storage was added.
During the next 50 years, ownership changed several times and the mill became a grain and general farm supply store. In 1961 the mill building burned down and the log building at Montwell Commons became the third structure erected on the original 1825 foundation.
A great deal of information has been gathered from deeds, the Greenbrier Independent weekly newspaper archives, and other referenced sources. Excerpts of some of these deeds, articles, and announcements are presented in the following pages. They give an indication of the role that the Lewisburg Milling and Electric Company played in the town and the Greenbrier Valley during the first decade of the 20th century. A more extensive collection of excerpts is available here.
February 27, 1896
Mr. H.T. Bell, who canvassed the town to secure a certain number of electric lights sufficient to locate a plant here in Lewisburg, has succeeded, and we suppose in a short time the old 'burg will be lighted by electricity. Now, let us have the railroad. Greenbrier Independent vol 30 #40
June 7, 1900
Tannery Building Razed On Tuesday morning last (June 5) a force of hands began tearing down another old landmark of Lewisburg – the old Tanyard brick building- which was built about the year 1825, by the late James Withrow, father of our honored townsmen, James Withrow, Esq. The removal of the building is necessary to make room for the erection of a big Steam Roller Mill and the laying of an electric light plant. If someone would have predicted when this old building was first erected, that it would be moved some day for the purpose above mentioned, he would, no doubt, have had to spend his days in some asylum.
The building to be erected for the mill will be a large three story structure with wheat elevators and all necessary machinery to make a 60-barrel capacity mill. An electric plant will also be attached for the purpose of lighting the old town by electricity. The promoters of this enterprise are Wm. Masters, John J. Duffy, John G. and James W. Dwyer, all of our town, and, when it is completed, will cost about $10,000. This enterprise will not only be a great convenience to our community and profitable to the promoters, but will furnish a cash market for all the wheat and grain grown in this entire Valley. We, therefore, wish these gentlemen unbounded success.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 34 #52
September 13, 1900
The boiler for our big steam mill and electric light plant, which was hauled from the depot to Lewisburg on a wagon drawn by Mr. Alta Young's big engine, weighs 11,000 pounds. It won't be but a short time until we hear the hum of the machinery. Greenbrier Independent Vol 35 #14
October 25, 1900
The new mill is now completed and ready for business. It is an excellent structure with first class modern machinery and in all respects a credit to the town and to the men who have built it. The electric plant is also complete and has been tested with satisfactory results. The arc light exhibited on Main Street Tuesday night was a revelation to to the old town and impressed us forcibly with the idea of what a little push and enterprise can accomplish. As soon as a few additional details can be attended to, the light will be turned on in the streets and in all the stores and residences which have contracted for it. Greenbrier Independent Vol 35 #20
November 1, 1900
Our big mill and electric plant are now in full blast – the mill turning out 50 barrels of flour per day (9,800 lbs). Greenbrier Independent Vol 35 #21
July 3, 1902
The large addition to the Lewisburg Mill is nearing completion, and when finished, will be one of the finest mills in the State, having grain elevators with a storage capacity of 15,000 or 20,000 bushels. The Milling Company also finds it necessary, on account of increasing business, to put in a much larger dynamo, which is now on the road here. The Company is now furnishing between 700 and 900 electric lights, and in a short time there will be a demand for about 500 more.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 37 # 32
September 11, 1902
The Lewisburg Milling and Electric Company has contracted to put in from 250 to 300 electric lights in the new Lewisburg Female Institute buildings and two 2,000 candle power arc lights in front of the buildings.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 37 #12
November 26, 1903
Cheap Power The Lewisburg Milling Company has under consideration schemes for furnishing cheaper power for its mill and electric light plant in Lewisburg. One is the building of a dam across Greenbrier River, putting in a turbine-wheel and thus getting water power with which to generate electricity. It has two points on the Greenbrier under investigation. If either is selected, it proposes to make such a dam as will furnish 300 horse-power. This will enable it to furnish power to outside parties, as it will need only about 75 horse-power to run its own plants. The town water works would thereby be afforded an opportunity to get cheaper power with which to pump water to town. It is also probable that the electric power plant at Ronceverte would find it cheaper to get its power from the mill people. There would also be enough power left, it is believed, to run a trolley line between Lewisburg and Ronceverte, if parties seeking a profitable investment could be induced to build a line between the two towns. In the event that the turbine wheel scheme should be impracticable or too expensive the mill people propose to place at Ronceverte a steam plant of 300 horse-power for its purpose. The steam will be used to generate electricity to run the plants here in Lewisburg, and the surplus power the Company will sell to parties wishing to use it.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 38 #21
July 7, 1904
The Lewisburg Milling & Electric Light Company has put in two tremendous boilers and an engine. We hear that this Company proposes to build an electric railroad from Lewisburg to Ronceverte, provided the railroad, now being surveyed to the coal fields, does not come by our town. No one can tell the great benefit and convenience such road would be to our town and community. If a trolley line was running every hour from here to the railroad it is said many of the business men and coal operators and their families would live here in Lewisburg. Some men here and at Ronceverte have predicted, if such a line was built, there would be a continuous town from here to Ronceverte. We also hear that every arrangement has been made for the construction of this road. Greenbrier Independent Vol 39 #1
December 21, 1905
The Lewisburg Milling and Electric company is having a residence erected on the mill lot for its fireman, Len Cumby Greenbrier Independent Vol 40 #22
June 28, 1906
For Sale Large flour mill and electric light plant. Capacity of mill, 75 bbls. Good income from lights, and the demand is increasing. Railroad will be completed to the town in four months, is well under way. Mill is located in the bluegrass section of Greenbrier County. Property will bear close inspection. Good reason for selling. For further particulars, call on or address Lewisburg Milling & Electric Co., Lewisburg, W. Va. Greenbrier Independent Vol 40 #52
November 22, 1906
The Lewisburg Milling and Electric Co's plant was sold at public auction here last Thursday and was knocked down at $25,700 to a company of which, we understand, Lewis S. Price, Jas. Laing, Richard Jasper, John A. Preston, Jas. M. Preston, and Fred Snyder are members. Byrne Holt as general manager of the plant is pushing the business with energy and good judgment.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 41 #21
November 29, 1906
The Secretary of State has issued a charter to the Bluegrass Milling Co., of Lewisburg, to do a general milling business, buy and sell grain, etc. Capital $50,000 of which $25,700 has been subscribed and $8,820 paid. Incorporators James Laing, Lewis S. Price, Jas. A. Preston, Richard Jasper, Fred W. Snyder, and John A. Preston, all of Lewisburg.
Greenbrier Independent Vol 41 #22
All deeds are on file in the County Clerk's Office in the Greenbrier County Courthouse. Deeds are
identified as 'book number – page number'.
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.