When Paris was a Factory Town

"What Paris needs most, is some factories."  How often we have heard that remark.  But can't you remember when Paris was a factory town?  Don't you recall the old Woolen Mill, the pottery works, flour mill, plow, wagon, and shoe factories and the tobacco warehouses?  Some of them are not buried so far back in the past that our memory fails us.  Was Paris a better town then?           

"But," you will say, "modern industries would create a new Paris."  Well, were they not modern when they were being operated?

For the benefit of our younger generations and to help freshen the memories of our elders, we will publish a little account of "When Paris was a Factory Town."

Probably the best developed industry Paris has ever had was the shoe factory operated by Louis Rose.  He began the manufacture of footwear in 1869 and kept building up the business until 1883 when he could no longer compete with the big factories in the East.  At first only about five hands were employed, but, as the business grew, this number was increased until there were thirty two men and boys on the payroll.  Machinery was added and agents put out in adjoining counties, developing quite a demand for the Rose boots and shoes.  Prices for this footwear ranged from $5.00 to $16.50 a pair, and one hundred and twenty pairs could be turned out in a day.  But in those days shoes could be made to last as long as ten years.  One of the features of Mr. Rose's factory was the "Cornfield Gaiter," a patent plow shoe which was widely advertised and as widely sold.  In 1880, John Rose, now in business in Marshall, was taken into the firm.

Within the memory of all our readers was the old Woolen Mill owned and operated by the Broughton Bros. They first began business in 1865 and continued until 1903 when competition forced them out.  The products of this factory were mostly yarns, casimers, flannels, blankets, and all kinds of woolen goods.  In its best years, fifteen men were employed and articles to the value of $20,000 annually were turned out.  W. H. Blackford, of Paris, was one of the traveling salesmen.

Not many people know that at one time Paris was a plow manufacturing center.  We had two factories, one owned by the Ashcraft Bros., the other operated by Wilson & Davis, turning out from a thousand to twelve hundred plows a year.  Each firm employed seven hands and their manufactured products were valued at about $10,000 per year.  These industries were started about 1850 and were kept going till 1872 when the new railroad brought cheaper plows from the bigger factories.  J. F. Matchett and Jerre Smith, both of Paris, were employed by these two firms.

E. T. Wetmore began the manufacture of wagons, buggies and other vehicles in 1870, employing six men, three in the blacksmith shop and three in the wood works.  His products per year totaled about $5,000.

J. W. Town and Sons used to supply the whole county with pottery, peddling it from one community to another in wagons.  Their factory stood at the west end of Locust street.  Close by was a bed of fine potters clay.  Many Paris people still have jugs and crocks that bear this firm's name.

In 1855, W. E. Spaulding commenced making furniture, turning out beds, chairs, bureaus, kitchen safes, tables, dressers, washstands, and coffins.  In 1875 M. W. Speed bought an interest in the factory and the two men ran their plant until 1892 when they found they could buy the same articles cheaper than they could make them.  At one time they were putting out $8,000 worth of furniture a year.  An old blind horse on a tread mill furnished power for their machinery.

When George Seibert, our City Marshall, was in the brick making business in 1882, he employed fifteen men.  His shipments went all over this county and even to Moberly where the bigger kilns eventually put him out of business.  The Baptist Church, the old Christian Church, the building in which the Jackson Bros. grocery relocated, besides several others in Paris, were all made from Seibert's brick.  He closed down his plant in 1886.  During the most prosperous years he put out $4,000 worth of brick in a year.

William H. Dulaney was the first man to handle tobacco in Paris.  In 1860 Bassett & Eubank, a Madison firm, put in two warehouses buying from 200,000 to 500,000 pounds of tobacco a year.  In those days this was worth from $20,000 to $50,000.  Tobacco raising gradually dwindled down during the war, however, so that the warehouses were closed in 1866.  S. S. Bassett, of Paris, was the senior member of the firm.

The old flour mill, too, can easily be recalled.  If you never saw it, surely you have heard others speak of it.  Flour was our biggest export, the local mill making big shipments to Kansas, Texas, and other states, besides supplying the home demand.  It was about 1880 that Grimes & Withers went into the milling business, putting in modern machinery and enlarging the mill's capacity to 200 barrels of flour a day.  In 1889, Davis, Austin and Allen, the latter being Judge Jas. Allen, bought the concern.  In those days the mill's average output was about 100 barrels per day or 31,200 barrels a year.  Flour sold for $5 a barrel then, making the year's manufacture valued at $156,000.  Five men were employed and the mill at times was kept running day and night until 1896 when it was destroyed by fire.

And so, gradually, the industrial life of Paris has passed away, until now we have left only one cigar factory and the custom mill.  But who could ask for a better town in which to live and be happy than our own little Paris?