Working in the Mills

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.

Today’s Tidbit | Nelson Alonzo Harris – July 16, 1822

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.

Related links:

The Harris Family

Harris Home in Cato, WI

Nelson Alonzo Harris gravestone in Waldo, FL