The Clinton Herald, Clinton, IowaFebruary 17, 2012
HISTORY: Sawmill industry flourishes in FultonBy Barbara Mask
Special to the Herald
FULTON, Ill. — The second program in the Mississippi River as it Relates to Fulton’s History series will be a powerpoint presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fulton (Martin House) Museum. This has been a fascinating research project. Clinton played a significant role in the sawmill industry so it came as quite a surprise to learn that Fulton had several sawmills and two that were successful in unbelievable measures. Part one of the program will feature photos and information on the saw mills: buildings, operations, productions and the owners and their homes.
A segment will also include information and photos on the rafts, many more than 1,000 feet in length, that provided the logs of white pine sawed into lumber at the mills.
Part two of the program will focus on the location/site of the biggest and most successful mill owned by Charles E. Langford and Warren P. Hall. Many intriguing succession of owners and businesses on the former site of the mill will be presented in photos and by way of description.
The old “Stone House,” once used by local pottery makers, remained in the midst of the L & H Lumber Company’s property. The structure survived, even following the purchase and dismantling of the L & H Company by the David Joyce Lumber Company, only to be destroyed later by fire.
One of the earlier steam sawmills was built by Charles Dement, the owner of the mammoth and lavish-decorated Dement Hotel (present site of the Fulton Post Office).
The exterior of the hotel was constructed of large blocks of lime stone quarried from the Considine Quarry, but Dement used his sawmill to manufacture the wood products, such as doors, sashes, flooring and window frames, for his new building. His sawmill was located on the far north end of Fulton and sold to William Culbertson and Dr. Leander Smith in 1861.
Their successful operation continued until 1878 when the mill was sold to Charles E. Langford who purchased the mill first and the next year the remaining property for a total of five acres. Langford relocated the chimney machinery to the site of his new sawmill at the east end of Eighth Avenue.
Culbertson, Smith & Company, while successful, faced difficulty in transporting their finished products out of the north end of the city even though there was an office and supply house, managed by John M. Fay, and located at the northeast corner of 10th Avenue and Second Street. By 1874, Culbertson, Smith & Company had a total cut of 4,000,000 feet of lumber.
Two articles written by Gary Herrity in September 2011, detailed the sawmill industry in Clinton. There were 12 sawmills and most of us have known about the beautiful mansions, such as the Curtis, Young and Joyce families owned, but Fulton had its own sawmill successes and large, beautiful homes, although on a lesser scale.
Charles E. Langford’s home, located at 817 11th Ave. and currently owned by Al Leemhuis, was designed in a “steamboat gothic” type of architecture and showcased the many features, made of wood, that were typical of the homes of the lumber barons all along the Mississippi River. The double circular staircase in the vestibule and the veranda on three sides were stunning accents and added beauty to the home.
Mr. Warren P. Hall, the other partner in Langford & Hall Lumber Company, was building a mansion (using wood products) in 1881 when he was hit on the head by a hoisting pole and fatally injured. The home was completed later that year and his widow, Mrs. Katherine Hall, lived there until 1903 when she sold the property to Mrs. Lenora Nichols, mother of Dr. Hannah Schmaling, a Fulton physician and civic leader. The house, described in the Fulton Journal as a mansion, was relocated in 1904 for a very important reason.
It is currently situated on the southwest corner of 11th Avenue and Sixth Street. There is an interesting story about the family that accompanies the history of the house.
Langford & Hall
Mr. Langford settled in Lyons when he first arrived in the area from New York. He leased a mill from Cox & Company in 1861 and the next year leased the Dement Mill in Fulton (located at the Cattail Harbor — currently owned by Rick Brown). In 1863, Langford purchased land on the river bank between Eighth and Ninth avenues (currently a municipal parking lot and Brinkman Lumber Company supply building).
Within a year, the sawmill building, 24-by-60-feet with a single rotary saw, was is in operation. He hired Warren P. Hall in 1865 who was an experienced sawyer as the mill manager.
The next year, Langford sold half of his interest to Hall. The partners erected a new two-story saw mill building, 80-by-100-feet, and a boiler house built of stone and fire-proofed in 1875-76. In 1888, the annual cut was 12,000,000 feet; the average each year at the peak of this sawmill in Fulton. Hall was killed on July 5, 1881.
Seven years later, Langford sold all of his holdings, which included a saw mill in Albany, Ill., his home and sawmill in Fulton, to David Joyce and moved to California. The Joyce Lumber Company made many improvements and continued the sawmill operation until 1904 when the dismantling of the buildings began. Joyce Lumber Company retained a presence at this site as a retail outlet and, later, it became the Fulton Lumber Company when George Wiebenga purchased it in 1963.
Currently, it is the Brinkman Building Center.
The Fulton Tourist Camp, located on part of the former site of the Langford & Hall Lumber Company property, became a popular attraction for travelers on the Lincoln Highway. This, along with other photos and information surrounding the area, will be included in the program.
Refreshments will be served. The Fulton Museum is handicap accessible and located at 707 10th Ave.
Barb Mask is the president of the Fulton Historical Society.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside Co. 1885Fulton Business Interests 1885
Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County 1885
CITY OF FULTON - BUSINESS INTERESTS
One of the important industries of Fulton is the Langford & Hall Lumber Company. This business was started in 1862, by C. E. Langford. The capacity per day - 10 hours - is 75,000 feet of lumber, 36,000 shingles, and 12,000 lath. They also manufacture moldings, and employ 130 men. The three lines of railroads have tracts through their yards. The mill is located on the bank of the river, and their logs came from Wisconsin and Minnesota and are rafted down the Mississippi.