An aspect of researching my family history that really interests me is the occupations of my ancestors. A common occupation that crops up again and again is working in various types of mills.
My Harris family has a long history in the mills. Ezekial Harris owned a saw mill in Bedford, NY in the the mid 1700’s. Nelson Harris built a saw mill in Cato, WI and then in Forest Junction, WI in the 1850’s. It was Forest Junction’s first business and was later operated by his brother, Isaac. Nelson’s son, Orville, worked in the Cato mill and later was an engineer in at a flour mill in Appleton, WI.
Walter Kachelski came to America in 1870, and during his early years, was employed as a weaver in a woolen mill in Beaver Dam, WI
Reuben Perry Benjamin operated a saw mill in Pierpont, Ohio in the mid 1800’s
In 1897, Daniel Webster Allen build the first grist mill in Custer, MI.
In the mid-1800’s, Lysander Ormsby operated a stave mill in Deerfield, MI. Stave mills produced the narrow strips of wood that composed the sides of barrels.
My 2nd great grandfather and I share the same birthday, albeit some 139 years apart!
Nelson Harris was born in Saratoga Co., NY on July 16, 1822. He and his family moved to Pierpont, OH when he was 11, and then to Indiana in 1837. Few details about those early years are known. They made their way to Manitowoc Co., WI, probably in 1850. Nelson worked as a carpenter in the shipyards there.
Envisioning the lumber and saw-mill business as a profitable venture, he moved his family to Cato, WI (which was once known as Harrisville – named after Nelson), in 1853. He built a saw mill there in 1856, which he continued operating until all the oak was used up. It was the town’s first industry. Once established in the lumber and saw-mill business, Nelson began laying away choice pieces of lumber and timbers for building a home in Cato. He meant it to be the finest in all of Manitowoc County. Much more about the Harris home in Cato can be found by clicking the link below.
In 1873, he built a boarding-house and mill in Forest Junction. This was the first business in that town.
Because of the weather, Nelson and his wife, Louisa, moved to Waldo, FL in 1881. He owned a mill in Waldo and spent the rest of his life there.
Orville Duloss Harris
My Paternal Great Grandfather
My paternal grandmother, Dorothy Louise Harris, grew up in Appleton, WI, the daughter of Orville and Katherine (Katie) Harris. She obtained her teaching degree in 1920 from Oshkosh Normal school, and taught first and second grade in Clintonville, WI from 1920 until 1923. She then taught 2nd grade at McKinley school in Appleton from 1923 until 1929, when she married my grandfather, Russell Weller, and moved back to Clintonville.
I’m very fortunate to have found many mentions of my grandmother in the Appleton Post-Crescent in the years from 1925 to 1929. Dorothy was very involved in her church, and seemed to be a very energetic school teacher.
The following newspaper excerpts are listed in chronological order and give a special glimpse of my Grandma’s early adult life. I’ve added some photos taken of her during that time period.
August 6, 1925 – Trip to Omaha
Mrs. O. D. Harris and daughter, Dorothy, 224 E. Winnebago St., left Tuesday for Omaha, Neb., where they will spend a few weeks with Mr. and Mrs Harold Cook. Mrs. Cook is a daughter of Mrs. Harris.
August 19, 1925 – Teaching Staff District 4
149 TEACHERS SIGN NAMES TO 1925 CONTRACTS
Teaching Staffs of City’s Schools Are Almost Completed Now
Fourth District Schools – Pearl Fellow, Dorothy Harris, Marjorie Hood, Agnes Tracy, Katherine Tracy, Margaret Stebensohn, Dott Smith, Elizabeth Wadsworth, Aurilia Whittlinger. Ungraded Room – Esther Rock, Lydia Schottler. Deaf Room – Edna Aderman, Ida Gleason.
August 28, 1925 – Returned from Omaha
Mrs. O. D. Harris and daughter Dorothy have returned from a three weeks’ visit at the home of Mrs. Harold Cook, Omaha, Neb. Mrs. Cook formerly was Miss Belle Harris of this city.
January 9, 1926 – Chi Tau Meeting
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Virgil Bryant Scott, Minister.
Sunday school 9:45 A.M.
Morning worship 11 o’clock. A grain of Wheat.
Christian Endeavor 6:30 P.M.
Evening Service 7:30 P.M. Subject of Sermon, The Way Out.
Prayer meeting Thursday at 7:30 P.M.
Monday at 6:30 P.M. Monthly Teachers’ meeting of the Sunday School.
Chi Tau meet on Tuesday of this week at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 Winnebago St. at 6:30 P.M.
Monthly missionary meeting at the home of Mrs. S. W. Murphy on Tuesday of this week, January 12 at 2:30 P.M. The devotional service will be conducted by Mrs. Rhoades. The topic for the meeting is Utah. The committee in charge of the meeting consists of Mrs. W. D. Mason, Mrs. William Burbank, Mrs Stewart Leuchars, Mrs. David Ogelvie, and Mrs. O. D. Harris.
January 11, 1926 – Chi Tau Upsilon Meeting
Chi Tau Upsilon of Memorial Presbyterian church will meet at Tuesday evening at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 E. Winnebago St. A supper will be served at 6:30 after which the business session will be held.
September 24, 1926 – Geography Committee
PICK TEACHERS TO PLAN PROGRAM
Committees Are Appointed to Work Out Educational Problems.
Committees to work out educational problems were appointed at the meeting of first and second grade teachers with Ben J. Rohan, superintendent of schools Wednesday afternoon. Other business include the distribution of programs for the Northeastern Teachers association convention in Oshkosh on Oct. 8 and a discussion of Better Teaching booklets which have been planned in order that teachers may measure their ability and development through the year.
Members of the geography committees are: Second grade, Miss Katherine Tracy, chairman, Miss Dorothy Harris, Miss Ruth Taylor, Miss Erma Temple…
December 18, 1926 – 2nd Grade Christmas Program
HOLD CLASS PARTIES FOR MCKINLEY PUPILS
Class parties were held in the grades at McKinley school Friday afternoon before the closing of school for the Christmas holidays. Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth and Miss Agnes Tracey were in charge of the party for the kindergarten and first grade children. The second grade had it’s program alone. This was directed by Miss Dorothy Harris.
February 5, 1927 – Chi Taus Meeting
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Chi Taus will meet on Tuesday at 6:30 P.M. at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 E. Winnebago St. Miss Evangeline Wirick, Miss Ruth Mielke, Miss Mararet Miskimin will act as the committee.
March 3, 1927 – Visual Education
VISUAL EDUCATION IS SHOWN TO PARENTS
Visual education as a part of geography teaching was demonstrated at the “go to school night” of the second, fourth, fifth and sixth grades of the McKinley school Wednesday night. About 100 parents attended the model classes.
Stereoptican slides and stereographs are used in the supplementary work of the children. Other subjects demonstrated were silent and oral reading, spelling, mathematics, including examples of the true and false test method of teaching, and oral English.
Teachers in charge of the classes were Miss Pearl Fellows, Miss Josephine Sexton, Miss Elsie E. Sandberg, and Miss Dorothy Harris.
April 20, 1927 – Chi Tau Society Officers
ELECT OFFICERS AT MEETING OF CHURCH SOCIETY
Election of officers was the principal business at the meeting of the Chi Tau Society of Memorial Presbyterian church Tuesday evening at the home of Miss Dorothy Schenck, N. Leminwahset. A supper was served at 6:30 preceding the business session. Miss Schenck was assisted by the Misses Margaret Miskimmin and Vivian Viel.
Miss Olga Heller was elected president for the coming year. Miss Ruth Mielke was elected vice president and Miss Dorothy Harris was elected secretary and treasurer. Patronesses for the year will be Miss Jessie King, Mrs. J. E. Bond and Mrs. Virgil B. Scott.
September 12, 1927 – Chi Taus Meeting and Womens Missionary Society
CHI TAUS TO HOLD FIRST MEET OF YEAR
Chi Tau Upsilon society of Memorial Presbyterian church will resume its meetings for the season with a supper at 6:30 Tuesday evening at the home of the Misses Helen and Jean Paterson, 319 E. Lawrence St. The Misses Dorothy Harris and Margaret Ritchie will be the assistant hostesses. Miss Olga Heller is president of the society for the coming year. As social will be held following the supper.
A meeting of the Womens Missionary society of the Presbyterian church will be held at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon at the home of Miss Marian Smith, 210 N. Park Ave. Miss Kate Schneider will lead the devotions. Mrs. H. H. Clausen, Mrs. Orville Harris and Mrs. G. A. Ritchie will have charge of the programs which will be on new literature for the coming year. Study books for the season will be chosen.
September 14, 1927 – Womens Missionary Society and Chi Tau Study Book
CHURCH SOCIETY HEARS INDIAN MISSIONARY
Miss Agnes Gale Hill, a missionary from the Presbyterian church to India, told about the people in India and her work at the meeting of the Womens Missionary society of the Presbyterian church will be held at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon at the home of Miss Marian Smith, 210 N. Park Ave.
“The Twelve Test of Character” by Foedick was chosen as the study book of Chi Tau Upsilon society of the Memorial Presbyterian church at the first meeting of the season Tuesday evening at the home of the Misses Helen and Jean Paterson, 319 E. Lawrence St. Miss Ruth Mielke read a paper. Supper was served at 6:30. The Misses Dorothy Harris and Margaret Ritchie were assistant hostesses.
October 1, 1927 – Womans Club Solicitors
WOMANS CLUB OPENS ANNUAL FINANCIAL DRIVE ON MONDAY
Solicitors Start Campaign to Raise $10,000 to Meet Current Expenses
Workers for the Womans Club will have a supper meeting at 6:15 Monday evening, opening a campaign to raise $10,000 to defray current expenses of the club during the coming year.
The club, entering its ninth year of existence, is planning a comprehensive program of work for the coming year. Its principal purpose is regular club work and to sponsor recreation for women and girls.
The club has a nominal membership fee and an woman in Appleton or Outagamie Co. is eligible for membership. A squad of women soliciting memberships for the club started work last Monday and the two efforts will be carried on together next week.
Woman who will canvas the schools for pledges are Mrs. Mable Meyer and Misses Ruth Mielke, Magdalene Kohl, Mable Welter, Hilda Kippanham, Rose Helm, Selma Mallmann, Jenn Jackson and Dorothy Harris.
August 16, 1928 – Prize Winner
Mrs Emory Greunke and the Misses Marie and Irene Greunke entertained at a miscellaneous shower at the latter’s ohm, 709 N. Morrison St. in honor of Miss Emily Greunke, who is to be married hearty in September to William Brydenhagen of Sturgeon Bay. Miss Greunke is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Greunke, 70 N. Morrison St. Bridge furnished entertainment for the evening and the prizes were won by Miss Dorothy Harris and Mrs. Marie Boehm.
September 21, 1928 – Geography Outline
GEOGRAPHY COMMITTEE AT SCHOOL APPOINTED
A meeting of the first and second grade teachers of the public schools was held at Lincoln school Wednesday afternoon.
The committee selected to work on the geography outline includes Mrs. Leila Mortimer, general chairman; Misses Katherine Tracy and Marion Uebele, second and first graid chairmen, and Misses Dorothy Harris, Ruth Taylor, Ruth Hartig, Emma Schwandt, Agnes Tracy, Viola Weber and Lois Smith.
February 11, 1929 – Teaching Reading
RED HATS CAUSE GREAT STIR AT LOCAL SCHOOL
A man with a red hat seen on the streets of a civilized community might cause a ripple of excitement and shop window full of men’s red hats bring forth a few gasps, but it is doubtful if any red had could cause as great a stir as the one in the second grad at McKinley school. In this particular instance a red hat marks the crowning achievement – for the pupils of class B it means victory in the art of reading.
The idea is this. To stimulate greater interest in perfect reading the teach, Miss Dorothy Harris, intimated a contest inbreeding. Each time a child reads well, he is permitted to take one more step in the drawing of a snowman and when the snowman is finally topped with a red hat, the pupil has completed the contest. None steps re involved – three balls for the three parts of the snowman’s body, the eyes , nose, mouth, buttons, broom and finally the red had.
This who have completed their snowman are Harold Bertsky, Donald Own, Doris Jean Rhoder and Oscar Moderson.
July 15, 1929 – Dorothy Harris and Russell Weller Wedding
The marriage of Miss Dorothy Harris, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. O. D. Harris, Winnebago St. and Russell Weller, Clintonville, took place at 7 o’clock Monday morning at St. Rose church, Clintonville. The Rev. Father Dietrich performed the ceremony. Miss Helen Weller, Clintonville, acted as bridesmaid and Emil Tanty, Neenah, was best man. A wedding breakfast for immediate relatives was served at the home of the bride’s parents following the ceremony. After a tour to Niagara Falls and other points of interest in the east and Canada, Mr. and Mrs. Weller will make their home in Clintonville where Mr. Weller is in the hardware business.
July 17, 1929 – Marriage License
4 MARRIAGE LICENSES ISSUED AT WAUPACA
Waupaca – The following applications for marriage licenses were received in the office of County Clerk L. F. Shoemaker during the week ending July 9: Guy J. Schmahl, Manawa, and Ivy L. Reinheimer, Cecil; Russell B. Weller, Clintonville, and Dorothy L. Harris, Appleton; Joseph S. Lolosso, Manawa, and Esther Swenson, Iola; Bernard L. Schults, and Irma M. Roenz, Manawa.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know my Grandma Weller as well, or for as long, as I would have liked. She passed away when I was 11 years old. We didn’t live near Wisconsin when I was a child, so we saw our Grandparents once or twice a year. I’m thankful to have found these tidbits about her life before she married my Grandpa.
On this date, in 1798, my 3rd great grandfather, John Earl Harris, was born in Greenfield, Saratoga Co., NY. Unfortunately, I don’t know for sure who his parents are. John married Nancy Ormsbee in 1820. They moved to Pierpont, OH, Porter Co., IN, and eventually to Cato, WI.
My great grandmother, Katherine Seybold, married Orville Duloss Harris in January, 1876 in Wisconsin.
In the spring of that year, they left their home in Forest Junction and headed west, settling on a homestead eight miles southeast of North Platte, Nebraska, on the old California trail. Their home was near the Sioux look-out, a hill where the Indians watched the immigrants traveling down the valley.
I have a poem, handwritten by Katherine, that relays some of her experiences while living in Nebraska.
Do you remember Tom the day we left our Forest Junction home
To go west where the Buzzard nest and the Buffalo did roam
And when we landed at North Platte the home of Buffalo Bill
It was there they drank their whiskey straight, it was they shot to kill
We wandered up and down the Platte with Casey close behind
And Anton with his old shot gun a following in the line
We roamed around until we found a place to build a home
We made a corral and dug a well and build a house of stone
We gathered up the prairie grass prepared by Buffalo
To cook our grub and keep us warm when it was ten below
And then them bloody Indians come and Katie all alone
But she was brave and stayed them off until the Major come
We went to raising cattle in that we could not fail
If we could not raise them otherwise we would raise them by the tail
And that bronco that y rode I eust to call him Ned
At first he stand up on his heals and then upon his head
But now dear Tom the time has come when we can ride no more
And we will soon meet the old cowboy upon the other shore
I’m not sure is she wrote this poem while living in Nebraska or sometime after. It’s a real treasure to have something in her handwriting. Katherine and Orville went to Florida in 1881 and back to Wisconsin in 1896.
More about my Harris family can be read here: