A tall, field-stone chimney stands prominent in downtown Hawley, Pa., a landmark to a long-ago milling industry powered by steam.

HAWLEY - A tall, field-stone chimney stands prominent in downtown Hawley, Pa., a landmark to a long-ago milling industry powered by steam.

Jacob S. Ames, who started Hawley’s first bank in July 1885, started a steam grist mill at the corner of Keystone Street and Penn Avenue in 1869. These streets were known as 17th and 15th streets at the time; the site is now occupied by United Metal Works, next door to the Ritz Company Playhouse. The chimney- currently 65 feet- remains a part of the United Metal building.

An 1885 street map indicates the chimney at the mill. This chimney was a originally 80 feet tall. Ames’ home was next door, at the site of Ritz Theater.

A history written in 1886 reported that J.S. Ames & Bros. erected a large frame mill at this corner in 1869. It had three stories and a basement, was equipped “with all modern machinery” and was driven by a 64 horsepower steam engine. The chief product was buckwheat flour.

In 1883 the firm was changed to J.S. Ames & Co. Jacob’s brother John H. Ames had retired, and Jacob’s son, Gaston W. Ames, came in. The bank which the form started was privately owned and located around the corner on Main Avenue (18th Street) in the Jos. Skier building.

Anthracite coal was burned to make the steam. There was ample supply of coal in town; millions of tons of it came through annually on the Pa. Coal Company (PCC) gravity railroad to Hawley for transfer to steam trains, as well as coal coming down the D&H Canal.

Details of the operation can be learned from the Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Hawley in 1885. It states that J.S. Ames & Co. Steam Mills had a wagon shop, lumber sheds and hay press across Penn Avenue, where Vogler’s feed store was later built. Lanterns and lamps were lit by kerosene. The mill had three run of stone. The three story structure was at the very corner. Scales were located adjacent, on the Keystone Street side. Farmers could bring their grain here to be weighed, and made into flour. Whether the company sold flour on a retail basis has not been determined.

There was a smutter in the basement, to extract impurities from the grain. They also used a buckwheat shucker machine.

Jacob S. Ames

Jacob S. Ames was a merchant, banker and miller in Hawley. He was born born in Canaan Township, Wayne County, June 26, 1830. At 17 he went to work for the D&H Canal Company, earning 81 cents a day. After nine months he went to Hawley and helped finish the gravity railroad, which went into operation in 1850. For six years he operated stationary steam engines for the PCC, which hauled the empty coal cars back up the inclines from Hawley for the return trip to the mines. His last three years were employed at the stationary engine at Hawley. This no doubt gave him knowledge to manage his steam mill.

Having saved enough money, he started a cattle business, and in 1861, opened a general mercantile in Hawley. Following this, he started the stream grist mill in town (one source says 1872 rather than 1869).

In 1870 he engaged in the lumber business; rebuilt a steam saw mill a water-powered saw mill in Paupack Township; and bought up large tracts in Palmyra, Paupack, Lake and Salem townships for lumbering. He sold much of the land for farming interests and retained 2,000 acres for himself.

He was selling as much as five million feet of lumber a year, marketing it mostly in Philadelphia, New York and Newark.

On October 25, 1854, he was wed to Harriet N. Woodward of Paupack Township (she was born, March 7, 1836). There children were Gaston A., Helen A., and Amasa L.

Jacob Ames died in 1905, Harriet, in 1918.

Wall & Rollison

At some point between 1885 and 1889, the Ames family relinquished the mill to Theodore F. Wall and his brother, George P. Wall. Known as T.F. & G. P. Wall, the Hawley Times reported in April 1889 that G. P. Wall had sold his half interest to Arthur Rollison, of Arlington (Salem Township, Wayne County), for $6,000.

Accounting for inflation, that would be approximately $169,470 today.

The 1890 Hawley business directory lists the firm as “Wall & Rolloson (sic) grist mill.” An 1892 street map gives the name of  “Wall & Rollison Hawley Steam Mills.”

Theodore F. Wall

Theodore F. Wall was born, Feb. 3, 1850 in Damascus, Wayne County, to Anthony and Maria Wall. Anthony was a farmer. The 1870 census lists Theodore as the oldest of eight children. George was about 10 years younger.

In 1878, Theodore and Mary Wall were wed. They made their hime at 312 Penn Avenue. Their children included Russell T. Raymond B. and Arthur J.

Theodore was engaged in lumbering as well as mill work. He was active with the Hawley Lodge 305 of the Masons, and was a Republican delegate. In the late 1890’s he was on a committee in Hawley to explore the best means of providing fire protection. This led to the forming of the Hawley Fire Department in 1898.

Mrs. Wall was active in the Ladies Aid group at the Methodist church, and in the Wayne County Temperance Union.

In 1903, Mr. Wall was a director of the Harloe Self-tying Insulator Company in Hawley.

A news brief in July 1911 announced, “T. F. Wall is now the owner of the best automobile in town, a 20 horse power Stanley Steamer.” He had purchased another car in March 1910, although the newspaper didn’t state what kind.

The Epworth League held a masquerade social at the Wall’s house, Friday, Nov. 25, 1910. A fine was to be imposed on anyone who was unable to effect a complete disguise.

Theodore Wall died in Hawley, June 19, 1927.

Little has been found about George P. Wall.  An interesting news item, dated Feb. 28, 1889, however, tells that Wall was engaged in prospecting for oil or gas in the region. He was general superintendent for the contractor.  Equipment to drill was brought in by railroad to the “Wall Bros.’ grain switch” in the West Hawley yard, to be taken to Hemlock Hollow. A report of the results is pending more research!

Arthur Rollison was born about 1829 in Salem Township, to Nathaniel and Rebecca Rollison. Arthur was a farmer; he and wife Margaret’s children included Matilda, Orra and Leroy.

Wall & Murphy

The company name had changed to Wall & Murphy Hawley Steam Mills, by the time of the 1897 Hawley street map.

The principals appear to have been Theodore F. Wall and Richard W. Murphy.

After a fire gutted the old mill in 1902, Wall and Murphy rebuilt it not as a grist mill, but as a cut glass factory. This was Keystone Glass Company, which was in operation until 1918. Richard’s son George Murphy continued decorating glass there for a few years.

Richard W. Murphy, who served as burgess (mayor) in Hawley, was the father of Warren Murphy who started a real estate and insurance business in town. Warren’s son Dick Murphy continued that business for many years.

Art Wall Jr.

Theodore and Mary Wall’s son Russell became a physician. Son Raymond Wall was in the insurance business.

Son Arthur J. Wall Sr. was a World War I veteran. He became a State Representative. He and his wife Louise lived in Honesdale where Arthur was manager of Wayne Milling Company and was a merchant.

Arthur and Louise’s son Art Wall Jr. became a professional golfer. Art was born Nov. 25, 1923 in Honesdale. Wall won 14 titles on the PGA Tour, including four in 1959. That year he was chosen as the PGA Player of the Year. He won the Masters Tournament in 1959 as well. Wall was a member of three United States Ryder Cup teams. He held the world record for many years for sinking 45 holes-in-one. He final tour was in 1975 at the Greater Milwaukee open, when he was 51.

Art Wall and his wife Jean had five children, Carolyn, Laurie, Valerie, Gregory and Douglas. Art Wall Jr. died at age 77, October 31, 2001.

Main sources:

Vintage newspapers at fultonhistory.com

History of Wayne, Pike & Monroe Counties, PA (1886) by Alfred P. Matthews

Wayne County Historical Society