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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: OR-5
Corporate Name: Bancroft Lumber Company (part 1 of two parts: see Peavy-Moore Lumber Company at Orange for a continuation of this mill site's story.)
Local Name:
Owner Name: Peavy-Moore, Miller-Link, Kirby-Mill D, Bancroft, Burton & Woodill lumber companies. This a two-record survey. See later record at Orange for the Peavy-Moore Lumber Company. 1896: Bancroft Lumber Company - A. J. Bancroft, president; E. W. Bancroft, vi
Location: First mill on Louisiana side of Sabine and the second and third mills at Orange
County: Orange
Years in Operation: 51 years
Start Year: 1877
End Year: 1927
Decades: 1870-1879,1880-1889,1890-1899,1900-1909,1910-1919,1920-1929
Period of Operation: Burton & Woodill, 1874; Bancroft, 1877; Kirby, 1901; Miller-Link Lbr Co, 1905; Peavy-Moore, 1927.
Town: Orange
Company Town: 1
Peak Town Size: 7,000 in 1906; 17000 in 1928
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: The first mill cut shingles, the second and third lumber. Second and third mills operated at same time.
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Power Source: In 1880, the second mill had 75-horsepower steam engines ran by four boilers.
Horse Mule Oxen Water
Water Overshot Water Turbine Diesel Unknown
Pit Steam Steam Circular Steam Band
Gas Electricity Other
Maximum Capacity: 20000: 188070000: 1890
Capacity Comments: 20000 feet daily estimated in 1880 and 70000 feet by 1890
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: In 1880, the second mill had two gang and one circular saws, the third mill had circular and a double circular saws, edgers, trimmers, automatic steam loaders, and a 40-ft carriage.
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Texas & New Orleans Railroad; Sabine Tram Company; Tram Arthur Logging Company; later Southern Pacific
Historicial Development: Burton & Woodill in Louisiana had a small sawmill across the Sabine River from Orange. The failure of the piston-driven saw mandrel caused the plant's sale to Bancroft & Sons in 1874. They made it into a planing mill. On Sunday, March 26, 1877, the mill burned, possibly by outlaws. Henry Thompson, a well-to-do shingle wholesaler, financed the building of a second mill with the right to buy its output, but the Bancrofts had to relocate next to the railroad in Orange. The census of 1880 revealed a capital value of $15,000 with an average of thirty men and three boys, working nine hours during the winter and eleven and a half during the summer for $4.00 daily (skilled) and $1.50 (unskilled). Bancroft paid $11,000 in wages during eight months of operation. With $18,000 in materials, a gross value of production was manufactured at $35,000. Their third mill was built between 1885 and 1890. Bancroft Lumber did not initially do its own logging, but eventually organized its own steam logging railroad, the Tram Arthur, which extended into the pineries in Orange and Newton counties from its terminus of the Sabine River. Sawtimber would be skidded into the River and rafted to the mill. A fire in 1892 destroyed 4.6 million feet of lumber, worth $35,000 and insured for $17,000. The new mill was “one of the best arranged, most compact, yet least crowded with machinery in the Southwest.” Despite a Texas & New Orleans railroad contract in 1883, the mill was closed for months at a time because of the scarcity of cypress logs. In 1900, in 268 days it produced 23 million feet. The company developed an extensive foreign trade. With the death of Thomas Bancroft in 1896, the company reorganized as Bancroft Lumber Company. Unable to handle a mountainous debt, Bancroft Lumber Company sold out to Kirby Lumber Company in 1901, for $410,000. (See Peavy-Moore Lumber Company at Orange for a continuation of the history of this mill site.)
Research Date: MCJ 03-23-96
Prepared By: M. Johnson