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Hancock Chemical 1884 - 1911

Hancock Chemical 1884 - 1911

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haller   [Feb 27, 2006 at 08:32 PM]
This was the plant office for Hancock Chemical in Woodside, near Dollar Bay.

Hancock Chemical was organized in 1884 with assistance of President deShon from Lodi Chemical.

Initially, Hancock Chemical acted merely as a sales agent for Eastern Dynamite products here in the Upper
Peninsula, but it did manage to erode into Marquette Powders Company?s business with the Lake Superior

mining companies. In 1866, the Bigelow Holdings Group from Massachusetts purchases controlling interest .

The production facilities were built on a 79 acre tract in Woodside, Michigan located a bit northeast of Dollar Bay, and west of the French Canadian settlement of Montreal, on December 13, 1886 by the mining properties of the Tamarack Mining Company, Osceola
Consolidated Mining Company, Isle Royal Mining Company, here locally plus the Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper & Silver Mining Company, and Butte & Boston Consolidated Mining Company.
These firms were all holdings of the eastern Bigelow Group.

The first executives were R.R.Goodel, R.W.Warren, and a Canadian as Secretary / Treasurer, John H. Edwards . Canadians, including some from the local Montreal settlement composed six, of the first nine new
employees; Messrs. J.H. Edwards ? Secretary / Treasurer, W.S, Pierce ? Superintendent, Harry Yates ? Office Clerk, Albert Penberthy ? Office Clerk, Joseph Amoe -- Foreman, Ernest Bedard, and John Faust. Some un-named workers came in from Marquette Powder Company.

On November 16, 1887 the first explosion occurred that killed six workers, five of which were teens, ages 15 to 18. This was much to the indignation of the nearby residents, as while newspaper reports accurately
detailed the extensive damage to the plant site, while no mention was made of the loss of life. In February the following year, three more men were killed.

In return for supplying dynamite to the three Bigelow controlled local mines here at a ?cost plus 15% basis? (Tamarack, Osceola and Isle Royale), an annual tribute of $ 15,000 was paid to Hancock Chemical by the Bigelow Holdings Group. Any surplus production was to be marketed elsewhere, as per an agreement with the Eastern Dynamite Company, who in an ongoing program of acquisitions, was later purchased by

Hancock Chemical continued operations with only marginal profitability until in 1909, when after several years of secret negotiations Bigelow Properties sells all its area mining properties, including the stock of Hancock Chemical, to the giant Calumet and Hecla mining consortium.

C+H now owning an explosives plant, compares prices of to that of their present DuPont products only to learn
that C+H is buying at prices under that of what Hancock Chemical costs were.
Upon confronting the local management at Hancock with this fact, the response is that Hancock had repeatedly made
requests for capital funds for improvements that would modernize their operations, but to no avail.

On December 15, 1909, the Dollar Bay Land Improvement Company expresses an interest to R. L. Agassi, then President of Calumet & Hecla, who
notifies James MacNaughton, the area General Manager in Calumet of same. No action is taken at that time.

In an internal memo written on January 14, 1911, to Quincy Shaw - President of Calumet & Hecla in Boston, by James MacNaughton - General Manager of Calumet & Hecla in Calumet, that it had surfaced that for the past eight years that DuPont while supplying C+H, that DuPont paid Hancock Chemical $18,000
annually for not calling on C+H, and for not quoting any prices to the Michigan iron range mines. Shaw was
meeting with P.S. duPont, President of DuPont the next week in New York.

In June of 1911, with marginally profitable Hancock Chemical still in production, MacNaughton solicits the
aid of high explosives consultant and chemical engineer, George P. Jones, to survey the Woodside operations and recommend what it would take to
modernize it . A detailed report was issued on October 12, 1911 indicating that for $134,331.73 that the plant
could be modernized to produce 20,000 pounds of dynamite a day by replacing 95% of the current equipment and existing buildings, but he added, not on this site .

By 1910, with DuPont in Senter in full production, C+H soon ceases operations of Hancock Chemical. In December of 1911, DuPont purchases the remaining
sodium nitrate, pulp, and glycerin from Hancock Chemical, shipping it four miles over to their new Senter plant. William Stevens Sr., having been at
Hancock Chemical from 1898 to 1911, along with his son William Stevens Jr. take jobs with DuPont at the new Senter site.

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