The largest feed mill in the area was started in 1883 by Nelson Mark Richards, Jr. Prior to this "Nels" Richards sold sewing machines. He saved $300 from his earnings, enough capital to go into the feed business. There were two other feed stores in Cortland at that time and a water-powered flour mill which also sold feed.
"Nels" Richards' small business progressed through the years, first as a feed store, then as a small country flour mill with living quarters in the same building, then a larger flour mill with a 75,000-bushel capacity elevator for grain. In June 1907, the business was incorporated with Richards as president.
In 1909, the mill and elevator were destroyed by fire. A new flour mill with 200-barrel capacity was built on the same site in 1910-1911. This mill was powered by a large steam engine. In 1914, a steam-generator was added and for a number of years electricity was furnished for the Village of Cortland. This flour mill remained in constant operation for 33 years until 1943 when the machinery was sold to make room for the expanding formula feed business. Additional warehouse and elevator capacity were added as required.
In 1941, a dust explosion destroyed part of a bag storage warehouse. In its place was built one of the first bulk feed storage elevators in the country.
At the peak of its prime business years, Richards Milling Co. employed 60 persons. On December 5,1962, when the company ended operations, there were 20 on the payroll.
The mill stood a number of years, a lonely reminder of the "good old days" before