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Roller milling romances

With the romance of Valentine’s Day recently past, this blog is looking at some of the romantic stories that have been found whilst researching the history of roller milling.

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Throughout the early years of roller milling, there is a common factor between many firms, namely that they tended to be family-run businesses. This was true all over the world. One such example was the Goldie family of Scotland and Canada. In 1844, John Goldie left Scotland with his family and moved to Canada, where he worked both an oatmeal mill and a flour mill. His four sons followed him into the milling trade, but to continue the family association, a third generation would be required. By 1867, five of John Goldie’s children were married, yet there were still some bachelors in the family. One of these bachelors was David Goldie, who would be in charge of Greenfield Mills when roller mill machinery was installed in 1881. By that time he would be a respectable married man. Around 1867, a young Scottish women, by the name of Isabella Easton, visited her father’s cousin living up the road from Greenfield house. David Goldie fell in love with her and they were married in 1869. This union appears to have been a happy one and the ‘Goldie Saga’ history, written by one of their daughters, has preserved their story. To read more about the Goldie family and their influence on roller milling in Canada, click here.

Whilst some love stories have been written down by individuals and family members, other stories require a bit more work to be discovered, such as in the next example. A letter has recently been discovered in an edition of William Voller’s Modern Flour Milling. This letter is featured as a ‘Gem’ in the new ‘Stories from the Archive Section’. click here I will not ruin the story about the letter here, other than to say that it was written by one Arthur Edward Locke. In 1911 he was living in Reading and working as a baker. Three years later he would be caught up in the storm of the First World War. As a Private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, he was billeted at the Royal Marine Depot in Deal, Kent. However, his home had been in Reading and it appeared that his sweetheart was too. On 11 December 1916, Arthur Edward Locke married Ellen White at St. Peter Church, Caversham. Given the fact that Locke was now living in Kent, it seems appropriate to presume that he and Miss White were acquainted before the events of the war caused him to leave. A long-distance relationship would turn into a long-distance marriage for the first two years of their married life together. However, on the conclusion of the war in 1918, the two settled down in Reading to properly begin their married lives together.

Yet not all stories have such a happy ending. The adoption of roller mill machinery in America has mainly been credited to the forethought and willingness of two men, Charles A. Pillsbury and General Cadwallader C. Washburn. Profiles on both these men can be found in the ‘Key Individuals’ section, but this blog will be focusing on the love story involving General Washburn (pictured above). He was 30 years old when he married his wife, Jeannette Garr, on January 1, 1849. Their marital bliss would only last a few years. In 1850 their first child, Jeannette (Nettie) Garr Washburn, was born and then two years later their second child, Frances (Fanny) Washburn was born. Mrs Washburn appeared to have borne no ill effects physically from childbirth. However, she had begun to show effects of mental illness. General Washburn visited New York with his wife, hopeful of finding a cure, yet she continued to worsen. In 1852 he made arrangements for his wife to be cared for in the Quaker-founded Bloomingdale Asylum, and later in an institution in Brookline, Massachusetts. After General Washburn died in 1882 his last will and testament left the greatest amount of money for the care of his wife, who would go on to live another twenty-seven years. A faithful and loving husband to the end.

So a mixture of romantic stories from around the world, tales of love and endurance through good times and bad.


  • Image of Cadwallader C. Washburn from Brady-Handy Collection at the Library of Congress, in the Public Domain
  • Land, Anne, ‘The Goldie Saga’, Life Histories. Historical Manuscripts of the District of Lake Country (Lake Country Museum and Archive).
  • Paynter, Mary O. P., Phoenix from the Fire: A History of Edgewood College (Madison, 2002).