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Services History at Hayner

By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Mill Glenn Moore

Photo by Glenn Moore, 1950s

The Morning After

According to mill manager James Mulroy, the cause of the fire was a dust explosion that occurs when the air becomes saturated with tiny particles that combust easily with a spark. Damages were estimated at $1,500,000 ($19,500,000 in 2016 dollars). The Stanard-Tilton unit was owned by Russell Miller Milling Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. James Mulroy was the son of M. F. Mulroy, executive vice-president at Russell Miller Co. Insurance covered the damages.

A week after the fire, the St. Louis fire department sent a bill to Alton for $2,706.06 (about $35,000 in 2016 dollars) to pay for wages, gasoline, and equipment damaged in the flames.5 Some in the city balked at paying the bill. Mayor Harold Wadlow, father of Alton’s 8' 11" citizen Robert Wadlow, suggested the downtown businesses foot the bill, since they could have been so badly affected by the fire. Curiously, there is no mention of Russell Miller picking up the tab. A Telegraph editorial suggested the city pay the bill with sincere thanks for the help. The city of Alton did pay the bill. Interestingly, just before the fire, a citizen’s purchasing committee had been working to acquire an aerial ladder. The aerial ladder truck arrived shortly after the fire.6

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By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Mill 1


Alton’s Inferno
At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, 1946, the first of a series of explosions blew the roof off the Stanard-Tilton flour mill in downtown Alton, Illinois. Working on the top floor about 20 feet from the explosion, James Brown was thrown 8 to 10 feet onto his back.1 The building burst into flames, and the fire raged through the five-story brick structure and spread to other parts of the mill. An hour after the first blast, the top three stories of the north wall collapsed onto Broadway, narrowly missing eight firemen below. An avalanche of bricks destroyed the pavement, lowering the street by 1½ feet in places. Most of the east wall fell inward five minutes later. Miraculously, all of the dozen mill employees working in the building escaped without serious injury.

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Plat Maps #HaynerGenealogyGems

Plat is a term for a survey of a piece of land to identify boundaries, easements, flood zones, roadways, and access rights of way. It is the legal description of a specific piece of real property and is required if land is to subdivided for building homes, creating parks, and setting aside rights of way. The Genealogy & Local History Library has a variety of local Plat Maps. These maps are a good tool in property research as well as helping locate the areas where our ancestors lived.

21. Plat Maps

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Mail Requests #HaynerGenealogyGems

We aren’t the post office, but we offer a great mail service!

For a minimal fee ($5.00 per name or subject), the Genealogy & Local History staff offers a lookup service for patrons who cannot come into the library to do their research. All we need is a letter explaining what you are trying to find in your family search or local history quest. We look it up, print it out, and mail it back! 

11. post office

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