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Western Maine Foothills Region

For The Love Of Paper

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William H. Chisholm was the third generation of his family to become President of Oxford. He had worked summers in the industry while attending college and then worked full time in several departments learning the manufacturing process. His next position was in sales, which led to positions in management and on to becoming President. William H. Chisholm brought to the presidency, as did his father and grandfather before him, new energies and a keen business sense.

Research and Development was still a strong asset at Oxford which developed a new trial blade method of applying coating for the high gloss sheet market. The Main Coated Department had produced high gloss papers for many years and had been upgraded, but was still not equal to the market demands. In 1956 it was announced the installation of a new high speed trailing blade coater, known as the North Star Coater, which would be placed in the north yard of the Rumford Mill. This addition would require many alterations and additions to processes though out the mill. The greatest change was that process waters had to be upgraded to reduce impurities and sand graduals, as these left scratches and lumps on the coated sheet. A new water treatment plant, with major supply lines and many miles of stainless steel pipe, was installed to deliver the purest of waters to all departments.

As the above addition was being completed, Oxford Paper Co. was to purchase the outstanding stock of National Geographic Society's wholly owned subsidiary, Champion International, in Massachusetts, on June 4, 1958. ( It is of historical interest to note that Hugh J. Chisholm, The Founder of Oxford Paper, was elected a member of the first board of directors of Champion International in 1901.) At the same time, it was announced that Oxford had entered into a long-term contract to supply the paper requirements for the National Geographic Magazine.

The 1960's were a time of upgrade for many of the paper making facets. The old coal boilers were converted to oil-fired, and recovery burning boilers were added to retrieve costly chemicals. Another structure loomed on the horizon in 1960. It was to house a new lime kiln, 275 feet in length. This, again, was to save chemicals from the process. It was soon discovered that the speed and ability of No 10 paper machine (built in 1964) to produce heavy basis weights would create a need for more fiber. The wood processing faculties were old and tired, necessitating the building of a new woodroom in 1966. This completed ten years of modernization and building for the future by the third generation of the Chisholm family.

William H. also knew that the original equipment and systems would soon also need attention, and that additional capital would be continuously required to keep abreast of the paper industry technologies. He knew that otherwise there would be a slippage of his mill's stature in the marketplace. He was also desirous of expanding the Oxford's capabilities by developing a new operation in Michigan. In the financial environment of the '60's, further borrowing was not an option. He went into the market looking for a compatible merger.


It was announced on August 1, 1967, that Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Floyd Gottwald of the Ethyl Corporation were able to negotiate a satisfactory merger agreement. Ethyl claimed to have studied the dream of Mr. Chisholm and Michigan, but, after the fact, felt it not a good investment. The merger with Oxford coincided almost exactly with a drastic decline in paper prices, part of the cyclical pattern of the paper industry. Mr. Chisholm left his position after four years as Vice President of Paper Manufacturing of Ethyl Corp. when he was not consulted in the sale of portions of the Albermarle Paper Company, a portion of Ethyl holdings. Ethyl continued to be run by the Gottwald Family.

C. Raymond Hailey was elevated to the Vice President position with task of making Oxford profitable and ready to be placed back on the market. The Mechanics Institute was the first to feel this effect and was given to a Board of Directors which would govern the activities and maintain the properties. The Canadian timber holdings were sold to the government; No's. 1 and 3 Paper Machines were shut down as they were not contributing to profits. Ethyl had Beloit redesign No. 11 Paper Machine with new trailing blade coaters such that the Northstar Coater was idled in 1974.

The Clean Air of 1963 and The Clean Water of 1965 Acts caused the Ethyl to act quickly, as both were mandated for completion by the end of 1976. The water treatment plant and collection system was $12,000,000 alone and was to be the last official act of Ethyl. Mr. Gottwald is quoted as saying, “The purchase of Oxford was our own fault for not thoroughly examining what we were going to buy. It was a mistake.”