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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Trip to the Library - to See Langhorne's Mill

I spent some time over at the University of Minnesota's Wilson Library today, doing research for my computer history book.  Burroughs Corporation grew out of the adding machine company that was founded by William S. Burroughs (grandfather of the beat-generation author of the same name) in St. Louis, Missouri.  The company was originally called American Arithmometer and was one of the all-time great investment opportunities of all time.

What I thought was going to be a short chapter on the early history of the company has turned into a multi-year obsession as I have chased down the early history of the company.  One major turn of events occurred in 1901 when there was a fierce battle for control of the company waged between two factions, one of them the three Langhorne brothers of Salem, Virginia.  The financial power in this family was James C. Langhorne.  J.C., as he was known had accumulated substantial wealth in the silver mines around Leadville, Colorado.  He invested in a number of businesses and real estate in his home town of Salem in addition to buying into American Arithmometer.

I have been looking for a picture of the Langhorne flour mill for a long time.  I had this ad for Langhorne's flour and there are lot of references to the mill - it was a major landmark at the western edge of Salem.

Roanoke Times.(Roanoke, VA) 1891-05-25 [p 7].

But I finally located a reference to the mill's major reconstruction during 1885.  There was supposed to be a photograph of it in the September issue of American Miller.

Now - where to find a copy of American Miller from 1885?

Luckily, we reside in The Mill City.  A quick check of the University of Minnesota library catalog showed me that they held American Miller beginning with 1873.  I headed for Wilson Library, passing the skateboarders and descended into the sub-basement annex.
AmerMiller-12 AmerMiller-11

A librarian quickly pulled the 1885 bound volume of the Miller for me.
AmerMiller-09 AmerMiller-10

The American Miller was one of an amazing number of trade magazines published in the late 1800s.  Each month, there was a fifty-page edition with flour mill news from around the country including new construction, fires, accidents and lots of advertising for the tools of the trade.
For a dollar a year, this was quite a magazine.  And they even featured a page of people writing in to tell them that each month.

And there, on page 443, was the picture with the story of J. C.'s mill.

Each month's issue featured a new mill on the cover.  Here are a few more:

David and Andrew Luckenbach of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had this old and new mill featured in the October issue.
AmerMiller-03 AmerMiller-02

The Taylor brothers owned this mill shown in the December issue. It was in Quincy, Illinois.

But the real gem of 1885 is this large mill in Jackson, Michigan.  Owned by Z. C. Eldred and George T. Smith.  It was featured on the cover of the November issue.

And then, in December it appeared again in this super-sized foldout.


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