Willshire Milling Company

Today, another very nice local picture postcard, a horse-drawn wagon from the Willshire Milling Co. and its driver.

Willshire Milling Co, undated postcard.

Although the postcard does not specifically say Ohio and there is nothing written on the back and no postmark, it is most likely this photo is from Willshire, Ohio. Mainly because Willshire, Ohio, is the only village with that name in the United States. There are a few places that include the name, like Beaumont-Wilshire, Portland, Oregon, and Stonybrook-Wilshire, Pennsylvania, but those places have a hyphenated name that is spelled with only l, spelled Wilshire.

So, I am going to assume that this postcard is from Willshire, Ohio, probably taken in the early 1900s.

Willshire did indeed have a milling company, known as the Willshire Milling Company, as seen in this ad from the 4 May 1904 Willshire Herald. Note that that they sold coal, “Bring Us Your Orders For Coal.”  

Ad in 4 May 1904 Willshire Herald

Wilbert A. Dull owned the Willshire Milling Company in 1912 and may have owned it a few years before that. Dull attended a convention of grain men in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1912, as seen in this newspaper account:

Among the attendees of the Grain Men’s convention: …W.A. Dull of the Willshire Milling Co., Willshire, O…

The 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Reference also shows that Wilbert A. Dull, of Willshire, owned a flour mill and grain company, which had a Good rating and an estimated pecuniary strength of $10,000-20,000. [2]

WIllshire, 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Reference.

The 1900 and 1910 censuses also give some clues about mill owners in Willshire.

In 1900, Wilbert A. Dull, 31, managed a flour mill, John Custer, 30, was the engineer at a grist mill, and William Dickensheets, 37, operated a feed and exchange in the village.

In 1910, Wilbert A. Dull, 41, continued to be a grain merchant, as was Claude Buchanan, 34, mill owner. William Dailey, 44, was a flour miller, and J.W. Ross, 52, was a drayman of coal and flour.

A drayman was the driver of a wagon used to transport various goods, usually pulled by a horse or mule.

Could J.W. Ross be the man in the photo?

[1] The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch/Ledger-Star, Norfolk, Virginia, 28 Sep 1912, p.13, Newspapers.com.

[2] 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Agency Reference Book, Vol. 183, part 2; Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book Collection, Library of Congress, www.loc.gov.


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    • Rosemary Charleston on September 22, 2023 at 7:56 am
    • Reply

    Karen, I do believe this driver is my Grandfather, Jesse Ross. Definitely looks like earlier pictures you posted.

      • Karen on September 22, 2023 at 12:47 pm
      • Reply

      How interesting is that! Such a great photo, too! Thanks for writing and (possibly) identifying him as the driver.

    • Geri Freewalt Solomon on September 22, 2023 at 4:53 pm
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    Thanks for posting this information. WA Dull was my great great grandfather.

      • Karen on September 23, 2023 at 10:25 am
      • Reply

      Great connection! Did you know he had the mill? Sounds like he was an interesting and ambitious person. Thanks for writing!

        • Geri on September 26, 2023 at 1:32 pm
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        Yes, the 1900 census shows him being the manager of a flour mill. I knew he had ownership in it but did not know he owned it.

          • Karen on September 27, 2023 at 11:02 am
          • Reply

          From the sources found, it does appear that he owned it, or at least had part ownership of the mill. Karen

            • Geri Solomon on September 28, 2023 at 5:35 pm

            This is information I have from a book given to me by my Aunt. Van Wert Ohio The book is that of a “Special book” with edits and notes in it. There are pages glued in along with a note of what is missing.
            Mr. Dull now handles coal, hay and grain, and does a general milling and elevator business. When he located in^this place he purchased both the mill afid elevator, the former being a 40-barrel mill, and the elevator having a capacity of 10,000 bushels. The combined establishment forms one of the largest industries in this section of the county, and is energetically and capably managed by Mr. Dull. He also owns the mill property, as well as lots 83, 84 and 103 east of the mill along the side of the “Clover Leaf” Railroad, and is thus insured fine transportation facilities.

            Geri Solomon

            • Karen on September 28, 2023 at 9:37 pm

            Thank you for this great, detailed information, which also indicates where the mill was located. Sounds like Dull was quite the businessman. Very interesting! Thank you for writing!

    • Jerry Freewalt on September 22, 2023 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply

    Karen,Iam a great grandson of Wilbert Dull

      • Karen on September 23, 2023 at 10:26 am
      • Reply

      Another great-granchild! It is is great to hear of these relationships. Did you know of the mill? Sounds like he was a good businessman. Thanks for writing!

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