“Beckett” Exhibition Explores Hamilton’s Papermaking Past

“Beckett”, a new Butler County Historical Society exhibition opening June 9, showcases the 164-year  history of Hamilton’s Beckett Paper Company.

The company began operations in 1848 when William Beckett, Adam Laurie, Francis D. Rigdon, John Martin, and Frank Martin started the Miami Paper Mill.The company went through several name changes until it was incorporated as the Beckett Paper Company in 1887.  A member of the Beckett family managed the company for 126 years, from 1848 to 1974.  More than 550 employees worked at the Beckett mill to manufacture the company’s line of high-quality colored cover paper and other products that were exported to as many as 35 countries.  The mill was the third oldest paper mill in America when it was closed in 2012.

The exhibition has been designed and organized by Dave Belew, president of Beckett Paper from 1974 to 1992, assisted by Mike Dobias of Miami University Hamilton.  It will run through November 30 and is free to the public.

It is the largest exhibit ever presented by the Butler County Historical Society and fills three rooms with hundreds of photographs of Beckett employees going back to the 1860s, “Life at Beckett” employee newsletters, samples of company advertising, marketing materials prepared for customers, historic company documents and items saved from the company’s community activities.

Personal memorabilia of the Beckett family including founder William Beckett’s desk, the piano from Thomas Beckett’s home, and the door from a company chapel are also featured in the exhibit.

The Beckett Paper Company exhibit is housed in the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton.  It is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Free parking is provided at the society.

The Butler County Historical Society is a private non-profit formed in 1934 to preserve and interpret the county’s rich heritage. It owns and operates the Benninghofen House, a high-Italian style home filled with the furnishings of a wealthy family during the Victorian Era.  Group tours of the Beckett exhibit and Benninghofen House Museum can be arranged by calling 896-9930.

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