Lewisburg Steam Roller Flour Mill
1885 - 1900


     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 a lane 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 Greenbrier Creamery was located just below the mill. The 1898 Sanborn fire map above 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.


1885 – 1886: Lutz & Handley

​January 28, 1885  Deed 36-148

     J. Bell and the firm of Price & Hardie convey the “Simpkins Tanyard” and house to John Handley: “. . . sell and convey . . .that certain house and lot of land . . . known as the “Simpkins Tanyard”  (which is described in the 1872 deed 27-143, 'as . . . a certain house . . . situated near what  is known as 'Beirne Spring' originally erected by John Simpkins for a tannery. . . ')  subject to the restriction to the use of water in the Withrow to Donnally deed 27-143 ( . . . . all the water privileges to which they may have been entitled in the said lot except that the said Donnally, nor any other person claiming under him, shall not have the privilege of conveying onto under or through the said lot for the purpose of tanning leather such as is now manufactured by the said Withrow in his Tanyard until after the expiration of twenty five years from the date of this deed . . . [which would be in1897])”                                                                                                              

February 5, 1885 Greenbrier Independent vol 19 #35, p.3

     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.                                         

June 10, 1886    Greenbrier Independent vol 20 #1, p.2

     Dissolution of Partnership The co-partnership which existed between Charles H. Lutz and John O. Handley, who under the firm name of Lutz & Handley, conducted a steam flouring and grist mill at Lewisburg, W. Va. Has been dissolved, they having sold out to John G. Cox and H.R. Hodson. All debts of Lutz & Handley will be paid by Messrs. Cox & Hodson, under agreement between the members of the two firms. Chas. H. Lutz, John O. Handley Jun. 3-4w.                      


1886 – 1897: Cox & Hodson

​     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.


March 25, 1886  Greenbrier Independent vol 20, #42   p.3

     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.                        


May 24 1886  Deed 37-436

     John Cox and H.R. Hodson buy the mill from John Handley: “John Handley and his wife hereby sell, grant, and convey . . . the following real estate. The lot . . . on which the steam flouring and grist mill is situated and all the buildings, rights,and appurtenances thereto . . . “                                      


August 26, 1886  Greenbrier Independent vol 21 no 12 p.3

     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.                                           


June 6, 1888  Greenbrier Independent

     The Lewisburg steam mill which has been thoroughly remodeled with new and larger bolters installed will renew operations again today.                                                             

May 23, 1889  Greenbrier Independent vol 23 no 51 p.3

     advertisement: The Lewisburg Steam Mill is now in running order Flour, Meal, and Chop on hand and for sale at reasonable rates. We need all the money due us. So please pay up. Respectfully, Cox & Hodson, Proprietors                                                                         

June 20, 1889  Deed 41-105

     H.R. Hodson sells his interest in the flour mill and lot to John Cox for $1500 “. . . to wit the lot with the steam flouring and grist mill thereon situated west of and near the Beirne Spring with all and singular appurtenances. . . .”                                                                                                                       

April 2, 1891  Greenbrier Independent vol 25 no 44

     A Laudable Enterprise  A move is on foot here looking to the organization of a joint stock company with a view of purchasing the Lewisburg Steam Grist Mill, putting in the patent rollers and other improved machinery and otherwise enlarging and improving the present plant so that flour may be manufactured here that can compete with that made at Staunton, Alderson, or any other place.

     Several parties have already indicated their readiness to subscribe to the Stock and there is no reason why such a company may not be easily formed. This is an enterprise which commends itself to all, and we have often heard leading farmers in this community urge the establishment here of such a mill. A first-class patent roller mill at Lewisburg will stimulate the raising of wheat and other grain in the county, afford a ready and convenient market for the farmer, and be a constant source of revenue to the community. There is positively no reason why it may not be established. The new machinery, as we are informed, can be obtained on easy terms, and nothing but a little energy and public spirit is needed to secure the success of the enterprise. We believe it will pay the stockholders and be of inestimable benefit to the county.                                                                              

April 11, 1895  Greenbrier Independent vol 29 no. 46 p.3

     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.                                         


May 2, 1895  Greenbrier Independent vol 29 #49

     John Arbuckle vs. John G. Cox et als. Decree in favor of plaintiff for $482.60, in addition to $1,315.19 heretofore decree, and in favor of the Richmond City Mill Works for $2,457.86, and for a sale of the flour mills of the defendant to satisfy same.                                                   


December 3, 1896  Greenbrier Independent vol 31 no. 28 p.3

     Dr. J.L. Nelson was thrown from his horse near Cox's Mill last Monday and was seriously hurt, but is now improving.                                                                                 

October 7, 1897  Greenbrier Independent vol 32 #20 p.2

     Commissioner's Sale In pursuance of the authority vested in me as Trustee and Special Commissioner of the Circuit Court of Greenbrier county, appointed in the chancery cause [Justice is administered according to fairness as contrasted with the strictly formulated rules of common law] of J.W. Arbuckle, plaintiff, against John G. Cox and others, defendants, pronounced on the ninth day of August, 1893, I will sell at public auction, to the highest bidder, in front of the lot known as Stratton's Hotel, in the town of Lewisburg, as directed in said decree, on Monday, the 1st day of November, 1897, that valuable Mill Property in the town of Lewisburg, owned and conducted by the defendant John G. Cox as a Flour and Grist Mill.

     This property is in good condition, with new and approved machinery, and located in the midst of a grain raising county.

     Terms of Sale:  Enough will be required cash in hand on day of sale to pay the costs of suit and expenses of sale, and the residue upon a credit of six, twelve, and eighteen months, the purchaser to give bonds with approved security, bearing interest from day of sale.

          James C. McPherson Trustee and Special Commissioner

     I hereby certify that the above named Special Commissioner has given bond as required by law. Jonathan Mays Oct. 7-4w. Clerk                                                          

November 11,1897  Greenbrier Independent vol 32 no. 25 p.3

     Mr. J.G. Cox has sold his steam mill in Lewisburg to Messrs. Frank Dunbar, Granville Alderson, and William Knapp for $4,000. These young men will take charge to-day, and we bespeak for them unbounded success.                                                                        



1897-1906: Alderson & Dunbar

November 10, 1897    Deed 51-18

     The Cox mill and lot is sold at auction by the Court Commissioner and is bought by Alderson, Dunbar, and Knapp: “. . . 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. . . “                                                                                                                                    

December 23, 1897  Greenbrier Independent Vol 32 no. 31 p.3

     Lump coal for sale or exchange for grain, at Lewisburg Roller Mills.


December 30, 1897  Greenbrier Independent Vol 32 no. 32 p.3

     The Lewisburg Steam Roller Mill is now running day and night in order to keep up with its heavy run of customers. They received a car-load of wheat from Summers County some days ago.


February 8, 1898  Deed 51-561

     W.F. Knapp transfers to Alderson and Dunbar his 1/3 interest: “. . . in and to the Lewisburg Roller Mill, a steam mill property . . . near the Beirne Spring.”


April 28, 1898  Greenbrier Independent vol 32 #49

     The Lewisburg roller Mill is now compelled to run day and night, in order to supply the demand for flour. The proprietors shipped a car-load of 100 barrels (1 barrel weighs 196 lbs) this morning to one firm in Fayette county.                                                                                


November 10, 1898  Greenbrier Independent vol 33 #25

     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.

          (J.Q. Dickinson & Co. 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.)



November 24, 1898  Greenbrier Independent vol 33 #27

     Col. W.F. Butcher, of Oregon, wrote to Col. Ford of our own town, some time ago to ship a bushel of old Greenbrier corn meal and some buckwheat flour. The meal cost 50 cents here and the freight was $1.90 - $2.40 a bushel. It comes a little high, but “Fount” will enjoy it, for it “will remind him of his boyhood days” as it was raised in this his native county.

          (This clipping is interesting because it shows the association of high quality flour with Greenbrier County. The source of the flour is not indicated, but there were steam powered roller mills at Spring Creek, Caldwell, Palestine, and Alderson in addition to Lewisburg.)


December 1898

     The Sanborn fire map of 1898 lists the following characteristics of the mill: No watchman, w. pails on each floor, heated by coal stove, kerosene lanterns, powered by coal/steam, dust blown outside.


February 23, 1899  Greenbrier Independent Vol 33 no. 33 p.3

     Disastrous Fire  Last Friday morning, the 17th, about 6 o'clock, the Lewisburg Roller Mill belonging to Dunbar & Alderson was discovered to be on fire. The alarm was soon given but the fire had already made such headway that all efforts to save the property proved utterly futile. Unfortunately, the water had been let out of the tanks to prevent freezing during the excessive cold weather and thus no aid could be gotten from the works. The building with all its costly machinery and contents, including about 1,500 bushels of grain, together with the Creamery building, immediately adjoining, was soon a mass of ruins, bringing to the owners of the mill a loss of between four and five thousand dollars, and to the owners of the Creamery building, Messrs. William and Ernest Echols – a loss of about $400. They succeeded in saving all the Creamery machinery except the churn. The mill was insured for $1,500 which will enable the owners to pay off the balance due on their purchase. They also lost their books, which, for the first time since they owned the property, had, for some reason,been left at the mill. Mr. Dunbar informs us that he had many valuable accounts on those books, but, as nearly all had been recently rendered, he anticipates but little difficulty in securing settlements.

     The origin of the fire is wholly unknown, some having one theory and some another. The young men owning and operating the mill enjoyed so fully the good opinion, regard, and confidence of the people it is hard to believe that any one would deliberately do them such an injury. The mill was very valuable property and, under the capable and energetic management of Messrs. Dunbar and Alderson, was doing a large, growing, and profitable business. The destruction of it was a severe blow not only to the owners, but to the entire community.

     Though smitten so severely by this disaster, these young men are not grieving over spilt milk, but, as we understand, have already announced their determination to rebuild In this they will have the good will and best wishes of every person in the town and community.


March 8, 1899  The Weekly Register Point Pleasant p4

     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.


March 17, 1899      The Roller Mill vol 17 p499

     Fire Record: Lewisburg Roller Mills of Dunbar & Alderson, Lewisburg, W. Va. Loss $5,000, ; insurance $3,000. Incendiarism suspected. Will probably rebuild.                                    


August 23, 1900  Greenbrier Independent

     Ed Alderson of Asbury, this county, has moved his planer, matcher, and edger from Alderson to Lewisburg and it is now located on the site of the old Lewisburg Roller Mill. He will be prepared to in a few days to furnish flooring,ceiling, molding, &c There will also be located on the same grounds several well equipped shops. (60 years later, this would also be the vision of the Old Red Mill.) When the big Steam Roller Mill and Electric Light Plant (the most of the machinery for which has arrived,) in addition to the the above enterprises, gets in operation, the hum of business will make the old hollow lively.

                                                                                                                                         August 30, 1900  Deed 56-577.

     Six months after the fire, G.S. Alderson conveys his half interest in the Mill Lot to Ed. M. Alderson.


April 20, 1901   Deed 56-578

     Ed. M. Alderson then conveys his half interest in the Mill Lot to M.L. Dunbar who now owns the entire lot.


December 14, 1906   Deed 72-394

     The Dunbars sell the 3/16 acre Mill Lot 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. . . “