A Vermont Milling Dynasty

Above is main plant of E. T. & H. K. Ide, Inc., at St. Johnsbury, Vt., that supplies livestock and poultry feeds to northern and central Vermont feeders.
Main plant of E. T. & H. K. Ide, Inc., at St. Johnsbury, Vt., that supplies livestock and poultry feeds to northern and central Vermont feeders.

Reprinted from the September, 1958, Issue of Eastern Feed Merchant. Link to pdf of scanned original:  A Vermont Milling Dynasty

A Vermont Milling Dynasty

By Charles Stratton and Austin Carpenter
Reprinted from the September, 1958, Issue of Eastern Feed Merchant

E. T. & H. K. Ide, Inc., St. Johnsbury feed manufacturer and retailer, has been successfully operating for 145 years as a five-generation business


Lighting the Village

This post describes the electrification of St. Johnsbury streets in 1889, and a proposal by E. T. & H. K. Ide to install and power the lights from the water power in Passumpsic. It’s interesting to think “what if?” but in some respects supplying power was an important part of the business anyway–the Ides sold power to a neighboring business, the water power was eventually sold for a favorable price, and coal became a lucrative part of the business.

The most interesting part of this post, to me, is the letter E. T. & H. K. Ide sent to the Caledonian because it provides some details about the water power and how it worked to power the mill, and reveals that the mill and water power were very under-utilized because a planned flouring mill had not been installed.

The year before our mill burned in 1883 we had put in a new flume, of 4 and 6 inch plank, and attached to it were four iron water wheels. Also we had a place prepared and new race-way built for another and larger wheel which we have never utilized, but in which a water wheel could be “set” in two days time.


Large Fire 1883

This article is transcribed from a newspaper clipping in a scrapbook. I am fairly sure it did not come from the Caledonian, since they ran a large article about the fire, and the St. Johnsbury Republican was first published in 1885. My main interest in the article is that it provides a complete history of the ownership of the original mill:


1796 First recorded sale of water power rights from John Stevens to Potter, William Kendall and son. Mill built soon after.
1804 Potter sold to William Kendall and son, mill known as Kendall’s Mill.
1808–1810 William Kendall Jr. sold to Joseph Armstrong.
Armstrong sold to Jacob Kendall.
Kendall sold to Josiah Thurston.
1810 Thurston sold to Ira Harvey and John Woods
1813 Harvey and Woods sold to Timothy Ide.


Big Fire at Passumpsic 1904

Loss Will Exceed $75,000

The Ide Mill and Fiber Leather Plant in Ashes.

The continuous blowing of the steam whistle at the Fiber Leather mill at Passumpsic just after 6 Monday morning gave the general alarm of fire at that mill and within an hour both the plant of the Passumpsic Fiber Leather Company and the adjoining grist mill of E. T. and H. K. Ide were burned to the ground. So quickly did the flames spread that all that was saved at the leather factory was a carload of finished product which was pushed down the side track away from the hot flames and a few bags of meal at the grist mill. The only part of the burned district that is standing today is the boiler house of the leather board factory and the boilers are believed to be in good condition.


Biographical Sketch of E. T. Ide

The author of this biographical sketch of E. T. Ide, possibly a school project, is unknown but believed to be Katherine Ide Sprague. Katherine was the daughter of Fanny Knights and Oliver Mitchell Wentworth Sprague. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a girl.

Original typed manuscript: My Grandfather: A Biographical Sketch


My grandfather, Elmore T. Ide, was one of those sterling characters for which Hew England, and, in particular, Vermont, is noted. His life was not rich in incidents, nor did he ever do anything that will make his name go down in history, along with those of Washington and Emerson, but, in all the simple happenings of his ordinary, homely life, he was the embodiment of that best kind of American, of whom we think in connection with Abraham Lincoln.


Disastrous Fire at Passumpsic 1883

Disastrous Fire at Passumpsic, The Business of the Village Wiped Out

On Sabbath morning, about three o’clock, fire broke out in the Cushman pulp-mill at Passumpsic, and in about two hours that mill, a saw-mill connected, the rake-factory of Smith & Galbraith, and the flouring mill of E. T. & H. K. Ide, were all totally destroyed. The included all the manufacturing of the village. After fighting the fire for about one hour, a messenger was dispatched to St. Johnsbury, where an alarm was sounded and a portion of the fire department responded with Torrent engine, but before the engine had gone far, a telephonic message announced that the fire had spent itself and help of that nature would be no avail.


Millers for a Century

Timothy, Jacob and Elmore T. Ide, Three Generations, Have Conducted Milling Business For 100 Years.

Timothy Ide Purchased Small Mill at Passumpsic, Dec. 22, 1813. — Business Taken up by Son and Developed from Small Custom Mill to a Large Grinding and Distributing Industry — Three Mills Destroyed By Fire — Business Removed to St. Johnsbury where Large Tract of Land was Developed for Manufacturing and Building Purposes — After 53 Years Connection with the Business E. T. Ide Still Actively Connected with Conduct of the Business.

One hundred years ago next Monday Timothy Ide purchased the grist mill at Passumpsic, conducted the business until his death when it was purchased by his son, Jacob Ide, and later purchased by his son, Elmore T. Ide. who for 53 years has been the manager of the business. The close of a century’s ownership finds Elmore T. Ide 74 years old but still at his desk giving the business the benefit of his long and successful experience. The thoroughly modern mill of E. T. & H. K. Ide is a. creditable monument for a century’s effort but Mr. Ide has still wider success to his credit. He has built up a large coal business, has developed a tract of three acres of apparently worthless land into an important manufacturing and building center. He is also president of the Merchants National Bank, one of the village’s strong financial institutions  Not only can Mr. Ide look back upon the accomplishments of over half a century but he has associated with him a son and son-in-law which assures a much longer term of successful business in the name of the Ide family.