Harding-Jones Paper Company

The Harding-Jones Paper Company is a former paper mill in Excello, Ohio. 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.

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

In 1865, A.E. Harding and his associates founded the Harding, Erwin & Company and constructed a paper mill for fine writing paper south of Middletown. 1 The mill was located near the first lock of the adjoining Miami-Erie Canal. A company-owned town, Excello, was established in 1870. It was named after a brand of paper the company produced.

Harding took control of the company in 1872, renaming it to Harding Paper Company and adding a second mill in Franklin. 1 Harding died in 1885 and both mills were sold to the American Writing Paper Company in 1898, both managed by Thomas Jones, a son-in-law of Harding.

Jones acquired the two mills in 1925 but disposed of the Franklin operation shortly after. 1 The Excello operation was reorganized as the Harding-Jones Paper Company and became known for its custom watermarked fine writing paper.

Simpon Paper Company purchased Harding-Jones in 1983 and closed the Excello paper mill on April 30, 1990. 1



  1. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Harding-Jones Paper Company District. Washington: National Park Service, May 1975. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. Archive.


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Rosco ( Rock ) Ryder hired me to work there in 1961. He was a step son of Clarence Jones, who was the president at the time. He was the supervisor of the finish room. He later went into sales , and then left the company.


I own this old paper mill, I have tried to run 3 businesses out of this property and use profits to revitalize building.,The County refused to let me do so. I have applied for a demo permit to tear down portions of this property , I am currently trying to aquire funding for this project , any inquiries can be sent to timapw@sbcglobal.net

Connie Reid, please go and get one of those cupolas. I would love to know that one has been saved. My mothers first job was at Harding-Jones, around 1922-23.

This is true of the Swans. The watermark was called Swan Linen a 100% rag content paper. Some customers required that some part of their water mark be changed every year, Very few people knew what was changed.
Thanks for the comments. Brings back a lot of memories.
Howard Lanier

I used to work on B&O railroad maintenance of way department at Hamilton from 1973-1989 and frequently worked on the railroad track adjacent to Harding-Jones property when they were in operation. The paper company had a swan pond in front of the mill where they kept a flock of signature white swans for years I believe used in company advertising. The swans were very territorial and fiercely defended their space on the pond. My railroad foreman George Burrgraf always told a story where a certain murder case was solved by the watermark on writing paper produced by Harding-Jones being an important clue in solving the the case.

Drove past for the first time today and had my camera, so I stopped. The roof has almost completely caved in now. I looked up “abandoned factory, Trenton, Ohio and was happy to find your page as one of the top hits. Thanks again for your work!

I worked at Champion Papers for 23 years. My parents also retired from there. Every time I pass this place I tell my fiance I would love to have one of these cupola’s. How can we go about getting one. My finace is a wood worker and would restore it and place on our newly built barn. I was meant to have this. PLEASE TELL US WHAT WE NEED TO DO. We will take it down ourselves. Please don’t destroy any of them

I would Love to see the house also. Just recently I have seen activity there. Every Day I would tell my Sister I loved that house and would love to live there.

Saddens me to drive past this, watching the cupolas sink a little more each day. I would love to try to rescue them before it’s too late.

I was born in Middletown and raised in Excello. Thank you very much for posting this story. I remember the mill but am seeking people who have memory of, and information about Gordon Park. As kids we roamed through the old home up on the hill and in the winter ice skated in the swimming pool on the property. I remember Dick’s Creek flooding in the spring and the water rising to Washington Street. We used to enter the park via a wooden style at the end of Ben Harrison Street.

Can anyone help me with information on this park?

It is very sad to see such a grand old building with a history such as this rot away. I worked at the mill from 1961 till 1982. Started out as paper handler in the finishing room, worked digging stock that furnished the beaters to air dryer operator, then to maintenance where I was a maintenance manager. While in maintenance I looked after the big house across the street doing repairs and keeping it clean. We also lived in two different Harding Jones houses. I admired a lot of people that worked there, but one of the best was Homer Gay. He was one of the best paper makers to have ever lived.

Hello ,

My name is Tom Sawyer and I am trying to reach the property owner of the former Harding jones paper mill in Middletown ,Ohio.
My family used to own and operate the mill until my grandfather passed away in the late 70’s. I have lots of history and documentation on the paper mill and I understand it is owned by an individual named Kerry -Johnston Gary ..?? My family also used to own the house on top of the hill across the street from the mill . I understand the mill is in very poor condition and I would like to speak to the owner about the facility. I can be reached at tsawyer17@gmail.com If you or anybody can get me in touch with the owner that would be greatly appreciated .

I drive past this place daily, and I think you might want to send out a photographer before this place crumbles to the ground. Both cupolas (sp) are tilting at almost 45 degrees and the roof below them are falling in, but as of 12/12/15 the roof is still up. If you pull this up on Google Maps street view, you can see the north tower leaning. 3586 South Main Street, Middletown Ohio, 45044. Thank you for this article, I am a fanatic of local history and especially things I can relate to and drive or walk by and see it.

I saw a backhoe there @ Harding Jones building yesterday 9/6/2017 so I stopped thinking someone would be around.
So did the Sherrif
No one else was around.
I’m not going to steal things.
I’d remembered seeing this blog earlier but I failed to keep your name handy then.
I’m glad I just found this blog again.
Let me know if I can buy some of those bricks from that building of yours, several hundred.
I’d meet YOU there, or someone else.
Thanks so much
Gary Chamberlain

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