The Harding-Jones Paper Company is a former paper mill in Excello, Ohio. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Harding-Jones Paper Company Historic District. A significant, early example of Ohio industry, the mill was mostly owned by the Harding and Jones families for most of its operation. The mill, adjacent to the first lock completed on the Miami-Erie Canal, also includes two residences, a carriage house and a canal lock. 1


A.E. Harding, founder of the Harding Paper Company, was born in England in 1829 to a family of paper makers. 1 He gained journeyman status before relocating to the United States in 1850. Harding worked for three years in paper mills in Massachusetts before migrating to Middletown to serve as foreman for its first paper mill.

In 1865, Harding and his associates founded the Harding, Erwin & Company and constructed a paper mill just south of Middletown. 1 Built near the first lock constructed on the adjoining Miami-Erie Canal, it was the first mill west of the Allegheny Mountains that manufactured fine writing paper. Raw materials and finished product came via the canal. The mill had a capacity of 2,500 pounds of paper daily.

Due to the mill’s growing presence, Excello, named after a brand of paper the company produced, was formed as a company town in 1870. 1

To operate the laborious equipment, a Corliss steam engine was installed. 1 It was followed by an Edison generator, which was just the fifth that was built by Edison. A rolling machine, which took pulp to finished product in one assembly line, was installed in 1897.

A second mill in Franklin was built in 1872 and the partnership ceased between Harding and Erwin. 1 The Harding Paper Company was then founded.

In April 1885, A.E. Harding died and both mills were sold in 1898 to the American Writing Paper Company of Massachusetts. 1 Both were managed by Thomas Jones, a son-in-law of A.E. Harding. The two mills were purchased by Jones in 1925, with Jones selling the Franklin mill not long after.

The Excello operation was reorganized into the Harding-Jones Paper Company and became known for its custom watermarked fine writing paper. 1 By the 1970’s, the mill had a capacity of 44,000 pounds of paper per day.

The Harding-Jones Paper Company was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Harding-Jones Paper Company Historic District in 1975. The factory was acquired by the Simpson Paper Company in 1983 and closed on April 30, 1990. 1