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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Shawnee Mills elevator in midst of maintenance, 1954
(67.0560, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS).


Originally built circa 1891 north of Tecumseh in Pottawatomie County, the Shawnee Roller Mills was moved on skids pulled by mules to Shawnee in 1897 after the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) built a line through that community. J. Lloyd Ford bought the mills on April 24, 1906, and renamed it Shawnee Milling Company. As one of sixty-four Oklahoma milling establishments in 1932, the company employed thirty-two workers, of whom two were women. In that year the firm acquired the Okeene Milling Company in Blaine County. In 1946 Ford retired, and his son Leslie A. Ford became president. By 1978 the mill produced daily six thousand hundredweights (more than 300 tons) of flour, twenty-five hundred hundredweights (approximately 140 tons) of cornmeal, and 600 tons of feed.

In 2000, as one of the leading independent mills in the United States, Shawnee Milling Company owned seven elevators; they were located in Arnett, Cashion, Gage, Kingfisher, Minco, Okarche, and Roll. Shawnee Mills was one of four Oklahoma flour mills that produced daily more than three million pounds of flour from Oklahoma's hard red winter wheat. The company continued to produce flour and mixes for baked goods as well as for animal feeds that were shipped to twenty-six states and a few foreign countries. At the turn of the twenty-first century Shawnee Milling Company had 220 employees, and J. Lloyd Ford's grandson William Leslie Ford was president. Another grandson, Robert Lloyd Ford, managed the Okeene Milling Company.

Linda D. Wilson


Virginia Bradshaw and Jim Bradshaw, Shawnee Milling Company: An American Dream, 1906–2006 (Topeka, Kans.: Jostens Printing, 2006).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 17 July 1986.

Paul F. Lambert et al., Historic Oklahoma: An Illustrated History (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 2000).

Mike McCormick, Dawn of a New Age: Leaving a Mark on the Community: The Shawnee News-Star Famous Front Pages (Marceline, Mo.: Heritage House Publishing, 2000).

Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star, 22 October 1946.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Shawnee Mills,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SH014.

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