Soap factory


Soap factory

Over the years many additions were constructed to the mill building eventually giving it a rather picturesque character. After the mill closed in 1910 the structure fell into disrepair. Evidently never one to be idle Joseph, in partnership with Mr. H. Anderson, started a soap manufacturing business in Southeast Rochester sometime during the 1870’s. The recipe for one of the soaps is given as: 500 lbs tallow, 350 lbs grease, 210 lbs rosin, 54 lbs talc, 96 lbs sal soda, 3 lbs tin crystals, 2 and a 1/2 lbs myrbain, 45 gallons caustic soda, all mixed with 45 gallons water.

An inventory of the Soap factory dated July 1, 1879 lists the following: Large kettle: $60.00, 2 wagons: 35.00, Grubs: 6.00, soap cutter: 15.00, 2 soap frames: 10.00, blocks: 5.00, other tools: 5.00, soft soap: 15.00, ashes: 25.00. From the size of inventory of tools it is evident that the scale of the operation was modest. He evidently ordered many of his soap supplies from a firm in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In an excerpt from a letter from the supplier some interesting insights are given about the soap business:

“If you want to run the soap business and compete with Eastern men you want this new finish on soap. It makes $1.95 less expense on a frame of soap and the soap is hard and ready to press the next day after it is cut and box the same one it is pressed so you can put it on the market about 4 weeks earlier than the old way of finishing and the soap is a great deal better, suds better, wares better. If you would like to learn the new finish I will come up and show you and will not charge you very much as you do not understand the old way.. I think that would be better for you and if you are not fully satisfied it will not cost you anything. Now I will tell you what I will do. If you will send me $15.00 to pay my expenses on train and give me three kerosene barrels 1/2 of “A” grease I will come up and show you through the hole thing and also the new way we are also making a very nice white soap without boiling which is called cold soap and its made of soft grease and is very simple and made in about 1/2 hour and can be cut the next day which does not cost more than 3 cents per pound. Respectfully, C. H. Tondro”