Large Fire

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

At 4 o'clock last Sunday morning fire broke out in the upper part of Cushman's pulp mill, and in two hours the pulp mill, E. & T. Ide's grist mill, Hugh Smith and Walter Galbraith's rake factory, and Cushman's saw mill were reduced to ashes, and made for Passumpsic a burned district. It cleared out the entire manufacturing element of the village. The fire took from a flue in the chimney, and was discovered at once by the watchman, but the material in the upper story was so combustible that it spread rapidly over the upper part of the building.

The pulp mill cost about $15,000 and Cushman was offered $20,000 for it last summer. His insurance is $5,600. The sawmill was also owned by Cushman, and was worth about $1,500 and had no insurance. Smith & Galbraith's rake factory was worth about $6,000 and was not insured. They have run this shop some 36 years, never carried any insurance, and are now about even in the insurance business. Had they kept insured, they would, in the 36 years, have paid out for insurance as much, at least, as the mill was worth before it burned. They were confident it could be saved and ordered the door closed, forbade removing anything, and directed all efforts towards keeping the fire away. When the fire took it there was no opportunity to save anything. Ide's grist mill was worth about $6,000 and was insured for $3,500. This is the most serious calamity which ever overtook Passumpsic, but it is hoped that the establishments will be rebuilt or that some other enterprise will take their place and improve the privilege.

In 1824 Luther Knight's had a woolen mill burned on the site of the pulp mill and another woolen mill was burned on the same site in 1867. But since 1800 the wheels of manufacturing industry have never, till now, been entirely wanting on that privilege. The first sale of the privilege was in 1796, when John Stevens deeded to Potter, Wm. Kendall and Wm. Kendall Jr., a piece of land "including the upper falls" in Barnet. From the wording of the deed it is evident that there was no mill there at that time. In 1804 Potter sold the privilege to the Kendalls and his deed included "a grist mill," and it is probable that Potter and the Kendalls built a grist mill there soon after their purchase in 1796. The mill was known as Kendall's mill up to 1808, when Kendall Jr. Sold to Joseph Armstrong, who sold to Jacob Kendall, who sold to Josiah Thurston. In 1810 Thurston sold to Ira Harvey and John Woods, and in 1813 they sold to Timothy Ide of Lyndon, grandfather of the present owners. It has been owned and operated by the Ides for 70 years, from 1813 to the present time. The main part of the mill just burned was built by Timothy Ide in 1813. He operated it till 1828, when it passed into the hands of his son, Jacob Ide, who ran it with occasional repairs until 1861, when he built it all over, saving the main part of the mill. In 1866 Jacob Ide transferred to his sons Horace K. & Elmore T. Ide, who have run it at full capacity ever since. It was a complete mill in all its appointments, having four run of stones, and all the business it could do. Besides its large custom business it has of late years manufactured about 3000 barrels of flour annually from western wheat, beside many carloads of western corn ground into meal.

We do not know the beginning of the rake factory. It stood there in 1839 and was run by A. S. Hale, as a cabinet shop. In 1847 he sold out to Smith & Galbraith, who went to making axe handles and grain measures, and afterwards put in machinery for making rakes. It has been steadily operated by them up to the present time.

It is not known if the respective parties will rebuild. There is a little prospect of selling the entire privilege to a large manufacturing company. The privilege is too valuable to be idle. The dam was placed there by the one who put rocks into the earth, and gave 23 foot head before it was raised by the hand of man. The artificial dam is from one to five feet high, and is built on top of the rocks only to secure five feet more head. The foundations for all the buildings are on rock and neither flood nor fire will ever change them.

A newspaper article describing the fire that consumed the original Passumpsic mill in 1883.

Published 12/21/2018