Over 100 Years Old and Still Sawing!


| September/October 1995



Russell Mill

5667 S.E. Hwy 69 Lawson, Missouri 64062

Russell 'Massilon' Medium Mill (No. 2), in the Allen family for over 100 years. The frame of the barn in the background was sawed out by my great-grandfather over 100 years ago using this mill.

Our old Russell sawmill was purchased by my great-grandfather, John R. Allen, over a hundred years ago and is once again ready to serve the Allen family. My great-grandfather purchased our family farm in 1876 and bought the Russell mill and a stationary engine somewhere between 1880 and 1887. The mill was originally called 'The Extra Heavy Mill' but was later referred to by the Russell Company as the 'Massilon' Medium Mill, specifications 'M' after they introduced a heavier mill, specifications 'N', around 1888. The Russell mill was not John R.'s first experience with sawmills since his father had owned and operated a sawmill and grain mill a few miles away near Elmira, Missouri.

A few years after purchasing the Russell mill, John R. rented out his Clinton County farm and moved his family and mill to 250 acres of Ozark timber which he had purchased in Texas County, Missouri. The mill was moved to that location on a railroad flat car. My grandfather, Daniel J. Allen, was 11 at the time and was allowed to ride most of the way in the train engine. Daniel recalled being upset when he had to join his mother in the passenger car before they reached their destination.

This move took place during the time period in the Ozarks when the Grandin Big Mill was in operation. The Grandin Mill was owned by the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company and was one of the largest saw mill operations at that time in the world, producing 285,000 board feet per day. John R. and his family found the lumber competition in the Ozarks very tough and decided to return to our Clinton County farm two years later; however, the two years in the Ozarks made an everlasting impression on my grandfather and he spoke of it often.

Because of health problems that plagued my great-grandfather, my grandfather, Daniel, became the sawyer for the Russell mill before his fourteenth birthday. John R., my great-grandfather, spent hour after hour, day after day, sitting, watching, and teaching Daniel the operation of the sawmill. Daniel's skill at mill operations soon earned him an excel lent reputation as a sawyer. Oldtimers in the area used to say that they thought Daniel was 'born' in a sawdust pit.