Saturday, July 21, 2018

The F. G Elliott Splinter Mill

Frazier Gordy Elliott was one of the movers and shakers in Delmar in the 1880s thru the 1920s.  He was born near Delmar in 1858 and started his first business in Delmar.  In 1879 he married Fanny Ellis. .  He was usually in partnership in his many ventures with Jackson l. Ellis. He would pass away in 1932.

One of his enterprises was a splinter mill, now a splinter mill was just a kindling mill, it made kindling.  It set next to a saw mill and utilized the scrap wood from the saw mill.   It was an important byproduct of lumbering.  Most of the kindling was shipped by train north to Wilmington and Philadelphia to be used in coal stoves for cooking and heating. The industry was killed by the widespread use of gas and oil stoves.  

The slab wood and scraps was cut into four foot lengths and transferred via conveyor. From there the wood was cut in to blocks about three inches long.  The blocks were dumped into a kiln to be dried and once removed the block were split out.  The dried kindling was bundled in to a 8 by 9 inch bundle. The bundle was tie with a tar dipped string that when it was to be used the string was set on fire and it in turn lit the kindling which in turn lit the coal.  At retail the bundle sold for two to three cents in the 1880s.  It was usually sold by retail coal companies. The splinter mills employed a large number of women in its operation.  It was also subject to a number of accidents. 
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The largest splinter mill in the area was W B Miller’s in Salisbury.  It caught fire in 1901 and the fire was so fierce they had to call in help from the Wilmington Delaware Fire Department.  The Miller splinter mill had over two million bundles of dried kindling stored in its warehouses.  All of it was destroyed.

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