The Old Leatherboard Mill
Moses Emery JR the first male child to be born in Bakerstown was born Sept 20, 1772. Enoch was twenty six years of age he built the first saw mill at what was later to be called Hacketts Mills, on the now Poland side of the Little Androscoggin River. He was the proprietor of this sawmills and later a gristmill and other enterprises for over twenty years. A deed dated November 8, 1824 indicated the property on both sides of the Little Androscoggin River in Poland and Minot being a portion of lot number eighty eight in the first division of lots was transferred to Daniel Waterman and William Harris of Poland and James Hackett and Barbabas Hackett of Minot for the sum of $5,000.
Daniel Waterman eventually obtained some half interest in this property for 1841 he transferred this parcel of land with one half interest in the saw mill and one half of the building then occupied with the shingle and clapboard machines and one half of the water privileges thereto to his son Jabez Waterman. Ten years later in 1851 Jabez Waterman obtained from Charles Millett the other one half interest in this property. Other operators and part owners in the interim included Levi Hackett and Timothy Downing. Following the death of Jabez Waterman in 1879 the entire property was transferred to his son Issac Waterman, who in 1883 due to ill health sold all interest to the Mousam Manufacturing Company with Emery Andrews as its president. Mr. Andrews of Kennebunk was actually the founder of the present mill property at Poland.
In addition to purchasing the sawmills at Hacketts Mills he also purchased additional property adjoining plus interest in the dam at Welchville and the mill at Oxford. In 1884 the mill at Oxford was removed and set up at the Hacketts Mills location. Within a short time the manufacture of leatherboard by the Mousam Manufacturing Company provided employment for thirty-men. latherboard nd electrical paperboard was manufactured from a rag stock. The mill operated night with W W Dennen as superintendent. The Little Androscoggin River at this point has a fall of thirteen feet in tow hundred fifty and normal flow of fifteen hundred cubic feet per minute. In 1892 the Mousam Manufacturing company was transferred to the consolidated Fiberboard and Leatheroid Company. That same year the name was changed to the National FibreBoard Company. Emery Andrews was still listed as its president and the main office was still at Kennebunk, Maine.
In 1918 after the Rogers brothers had purchased interest in the company its name was changed to the Rogers Fibre Company. This company also owned a small dam and generating plant at Minot Corner. Electricity was generated here and set up a company owned power line to the manufacturing plant at Hacketts Mills. This generating plant burned in 1922 was rebuilt only to be taken out in the flood of 1936. The Poland division of the Rogers Fibre Company ceased production in 1930 and the plant was leased to the Waterfalls Paper Company of Mechanic Falls for three years Paper was made here from wood pulp. In 1933 the Rogers Fibre Company Inc began producing Rofico and other fibre board products made from kraft and corrugated fibres. For many years this location was referred to at " the old leatherboard mill". The next thirty-six years found this plant devoted entirely to the production and sale of fiberboard in sheet form for use in the shoe industry. The production process consisted of the use of three rotary bleach tanks six beaters two fifty five machines a semi automatic dryer two caldenders, and board trimmer, producing eleven and one half tons of forty two by forty seven inch trimmed sheets per day.
For many years the machinery was operated by a combination of waterpower from the Little Androscoggin River, steam produced by a coal-fired boiler and electricity, apart of which was generated at the plant. In 1965 a new oil-fired boiler replaced the coal-fired boilers. The year 1968 brought about the merger of this company with Colonial Board Company of Manchester CT, a larger firm manufacturing much the same line of products. At the time of plant closing in August 1969 the standard operation of the plant was twenty-four hours per day six days per week. This contributed to the area economy with an annual payroll well in excess of $100,000. Minot Corner was called the metropolis of Bakerstown. Shortly after Moses Emery built his sawmill Josiah Miliken built the first tannery. One of the Reeman's had a linseed oil factory beneath his store on the Little Androscoggin River. This was the only mill of its kind in the entire area. Joseph Freeman and his son in law T F Lamb ran the first show factory in Poland. Thaddeus Doten had a turningmill on the river.
The farmers needed cornmeal and mills were built to grind corn on the brooks. Minot Corner had a gristmill. Taylor brook in the lower White Oak Hill area had a sawmill, which was run by Solomon Knight and David and Daniel Brown in the early 1800's. Another mill was located near the outlet of Taylor brook at Ripp Lake. Potash Brookhad a potash factory near the outlet at Thompson Pond. The area is now known as Potash Cove. Potash was made from wood ashes and was important for making glass and soap. Poland farmers included potash in their poducts that they sold in Portland. Some of that old glass can be found in some of our old house windows. Has anyone thought of old windowpanes as antiques? The Bailey Brothers had a gristmill at East Poland one of the first steam mills. The engine was made at Penney Machine Shop in Mechanic Falls.
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