Zenas G. Windsor

Illicit romance and its bad results

March 17, 2011 // 0 Comments

The history of the Village of Childsdale, continued by BETH ALTENA Henry B. Childs ran his paper mill with great success for a time. The well-known resident of the county had a penchant for purchasing property and soon owned most if not all of Childsdale, historic accounts tell. Fire destroyed the first mill on July 28, 1868. It was rebuilt and in 1889 Henry deeded half the mill to his youngest son, Horace. Horace had a vision for the plant and introduced new machinery when he became partner. On August 22, 1898 the mill was again destroyed by fire and rebuilt. Old newspaper accounts describe activity of the mill. “May to September the hillside north of the mill is covered with large squares of paperboard with boys running, turning them and loading them back into the plant. If you happen along when a storm is approaching you will see the greatest activity among field hands. The boards are gathered up and carried under shelter. As soon as the sun has had time to dry the grass the boards are carried out and spread in the sun once more.” Part of the success of the company over the years was the result of innovation. The original mill made paper which was shipped to Chicago’s slaughter houses and used to wrap meat. The paper was hauled to Grand Rapids by oxen and shipped from there by train to Chicago. In 1867 the railroad from Grand Rapids to Rockford was built. Later paper prices fell and the mill began to make paperboard, mostly for folding packaging. A claim to fame was the invention of a superior form of cardboard used for egg cartons. The mill workers used a process of combining a layer of straw paper with wood pulp and sulphite. It was far superior to the process of making crates other mills used. When the cartons were ready to hold the eggs, a 200-pound man could not crush them. Another secret to success may have been the way the Childs family paid their employees. They didn’t. Employees could live in the two-dozen homes of the Childsdale village and shop at the company store. For pay they were given scripts with which they could pay rent or purchase […]