Filed Under Industry

Jaite Mill

During a trip on the scenic railway, visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will notice a collection of small yellow buildings clustered around the railroad crossing at Vaughn Road in Brecksville. Now the national park's headquarters, the buildings once comprised the railway depot and company village of the Jaite Paper Mill. A part of the valley's larger story of rising and falling industry, the Jaite Mill affected the lives of numerous valley residents in the early twentieth century.

Josephine Davis, who grew up in Brecksville in the 1920s and 1930s, remembers most of her immediate family members working for the Jaite Paper Company. During the twentieth century, competition from western agriculture made farming in the Cuyahoga Valley less profitable and more challenging. Although the Davis' farm produced enough food to feed her family, Josephine's parents, brothers, and sisters needed to help supplement the farm with additional income. For valley residents in Brecksville, Boston, and Peninsula, the Jaite Paper Company offered jobs conveniently close to home.

Charles Jaite founded the Jaite Paper Company in 1905 and purchased acreage in Northfield Township to begin construction. Charles, who emigrated from Germany as a young boy, had a history of paper manufacturing experience. At the age of thirteen, Charles worked at a paper mill in Cleveland, and eventually became the president of Standard Bag and Paper Company, and vice-president of the Cleveland Paper Company. Both businesses eventually became the Cleveland-Akron Bag Company, which opened in 1900 in Boston, Ohio. In July 1905, Charles resigned and decided to found his own business.

The Jaite Paper Company provided local farmers with extra construction work to create the buildings and connecting railroad. The mill's location provided easy access to the Ohio & Erie Canal and the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad. In addition to providing jobs to local farmers, both the Jaite Mill and Cleveland-Akron Bag Company altered the ethnic makeup of the valley's population. Large numbers of Polish and other immigrants moved from Cleveland south to the valley to find work in the paper-making business.

By 1918, the mill employed about 250 people, including women who sewed bags and provided administrative help. Male workers used cylinder machines to produce "Blue Line Paper" for flour and cement bags. By 1919, the Jaite workers expanded production to include fertilizer bags and bread sacks. These workers made up the company town, which included homes, a general store, post office, and railway station.

Unable to compete with larger paper bag manufacturers, the Jaite family sold their company in 1951. The company exchanged hands several times before becoming a part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 1975.


Working with Friends and Relatives Josephine Davis, who worked at the Jaite Paper Mill in the 1930s, remembers how so many residents from the surrounding valley towns shared the Jaite experience. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
A Little Piece of Home Former Jaite employee, Josephine Davis, recalls the comfort she felt working amongst her neighbors and family. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Jaite Family Josephine Davis describes Charles Jaite and his relatives, who owned and managed the Jaite Paper Company. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


Factory and Former Canal
Factory and Former Canal Charles Jaite carefully selected the location of his paper mill. Situated on the edge of the Ohio & Erie Canal, as well as the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad, the company could easily transport goods to and from the city. The mill was also located near Brandywine Creek, an important source of water before the use of artesian wells on the site. Source: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record
Beater Room
Beater Room The Jaite Mill workers made paper from different types of fibers. Employees poured these fibers into large beaters which had large propeller blades to churn thousands of pounds of fiber into pulp. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record.
Fourdrinier Paper-Making Machine
Fourdrinier Paper-Making Machine Jaite workers fed wet fibers into one end of the Fourdrinier machine and onto a conveyer belt. The "press section" of the machine then squeezed out any remaining moisture using extremely heavy pressure. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record.
Heavy Rollers
Heavy Rollers Heavy rollers formed the middle section of the Fourdrinier paper-making machine. Paper passed through steam-heated drying cylinders before reaching heavy steel rollers that smoothed the final product. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record.
Paper Bags of Quality
Paper Bags of Quality This advertisement for the Jaite Paper Company was featured in "The Northwestern Miller," a weekly publication with information about the regional industry. Image from "The Northwestern Miller," vol. 85, 1911.
Jaite Co. Ad, 1949
Jaite Co. Ad, 1949 This Jaite Company advertisement appeared in a major national industrial catalog used by miners and manufacturers of crushed stone, sand, gravel, cement, and allied products. At the time of the ad, the company was nearing the end of its tenure as a family-owned enterprise. Source: Pit and Quarry Handbook (Chicago: Pit and Quarry Publications, 1949), 12. Courtesy of Mark Kinsler
Fourdrinier Machine Today
Fourdrinier Machine Today After World War II, the relatively small Jaite Paper Company was unable to compete with larger mills. The Jaite family first sold the mill to the National Container Corporation in 1951, which closed the bag factory, disassembled most machinery, and sold company housing to private families. Today, park visitors can still see the remains of a 1928 Fourdrinier machine on the edge of the towpath trail. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.
Jaite Company Town
Jaite Company Town Between 1906 and 1917, Charles Jaite built company housing on Vaughn and Riverview Roads. Entire families worked and lived together in a company town that included a post office, general store, railway depot, and even a weekly newspaper. Today, the yellow buildings house the National Park Service headquarters. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.
Railway Depot
Railway Depot The historic Jaite company town became a part of the National Park in 1975. The National Park Service worked to rehabilitate the buildings, now the park headquarters, as well as restore the natural setting of the surrounding factory site. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.


Riverview Rd and Vaughn Rd, Brecksville, OH 44141


Carolyn Zulandt, “Jaite Mill,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 21, 2024,