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
Richards & Evans Milling Co.- Cortland, Oh. From 1906 Tribune
Richards & Evans, merchant millers, and manufacturers of high-grade winter, spring, and pure buckwheat flower, with an extensive milling plant located in the village of Cortland. The enterprise was established in 1885 by N. M. Richards, who ran the business up to 1890, when he associated with his brother forming the firm of Richards Brothers. This continued until 1901, when Mr. Evans came into the firm forming the present company.
The plant is located on the Erie Railroad, giving it convenient shipping facilities, and consists of an elevator building 40 x 46 feet, four stories high with a capacity of 25,000 bushels of grain; a milling building 50 x 50 feet in size, three stories high, fitted with the best and latest improved machinery for the handling of grain, and the regular roller process of milling is installed throughout, giving the capacity of the plant seventy-five barrels daily.
The plant employs eight to ten skilled workmen in this line of business. The reputation of these mills is second to none in this section, and they control an extensive patronage throughout the Mahoning Valley and eastern Pennsylvania.
Mr. Richards, the business manager of the plant is a native of Ohio and has been for many years a resident of Cortland where he is well known and highly popular. Mr. Evans is a native of Pennsylvania. He has followed the milling business all his life. He came to Cortland in 1891 to take charge of these mills and soon afterwards took an interest in the business.
>>>>> As a side note - the railroad spur that went into the mill was used in later years as a "team track", where farm equipment was unloaded from flat cars as was moved to Cortland Tractor east of Mecca on SR 5, which is still in business there. This took place at least until 1974.