The following discussion of the last decades of Mill operations was taken from Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones. Here we learn a little more about the Mill’s final owners and how they sought to improve the business.
“In 1903, W. W. Jordan and Son sold Beverley Mill to C. C. Furr and J. N. Kerr for $8,500. At the same time, Furr and Kerr also assumed two deeds of trust, each for $3,000, to J. R. Hornbaker. One of the deeds of trust had been granted in 1898 and the other in 1901.
Charles Craig Furr, Jr., came to Prince William County from Augusta County, near Staunton, Va. His daughter Audrey Furr married James Newton Kerr, Mr. Furr’s partner in the mill. Mrs. Kerr was employed in the mill as the bookkeeper. The Furrs and later the Kerrs lived in the frame house beside the mill which had been built in the early 1900s.
In 1908, C. C. Furr negotiated a note for $5,000, using the mill as collateral. It is believed that at about that time new roller milling equipment was installed in the mill because, beginning in 1910 in a directory of advertisers in the Northwestern Miller, a millers’ trade publication, the mill was listed as “Beverley Roller Mills,” with an average daily capacity of from 50 to 75 barrels of flour. Sometime in the early 1900s, the present 29-foot diameter metal water wheel replaced the old wooden one formerly used.
Between 1924 and 1929, Furr and Kerr borrowed money from banks on several occasions, presumably to improve the mill. At this time, a Fairbanks Morse diesel engine was reportedly installed, to provide power to operate the mill during dry periods. Between the two World Wars, Furr is said to have purchased some modern flour milling machinery, though some of the old equipment continued to be used.
In August 1934, Beverley Mill was chartered as a Virginia corporation. T. Otis Latham was named president, Robert B. Swart vice president, and C. C. Furr secretary. Latham, Swart, Furr, and J. N. Kerr were named as directors.
It is said that the installation of the new equipment in the early 1920s was a mistake, because in doing so, Furr and Kerr overextended themselves, and by 1937, they were in serious financial difficulties, when payment on a loan made in 1925 could not be made. Mr. Kerr died in 1939. At that time, William Wilbur became a major financial backer and the mill’s business agent. In 1940, new flour-grinding equipment was installed. During the early to mid-1940s, the mill reached its peak output, processing 100,000 bushels of wheat annually and with a 75 barrel-a-day flour-producing capacity. At the same time, the mill attempted to project an image of old-time goodness, with its corn meal sacks which displayed the phrases “Old Fashioned,” “Home Made,” and “Water Ground on Rocks.””