Richard Owen Harris, Harris Family and Milling Company Collection, 1880, 2018, and undated
Using These Materials
- Richard Owen Harris, Harris Family and Milling Company Collection is open for research.
- Harris, Richard Owen, 1908-2002.
- This collection contains papers, publications, and information concerning the Harris family and Milling Company.
- 1 cubic foot (in 3 boxes, 2 Oversized folders)
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Marian Matyn
- Scope and Content:
This collection contains papers, publications, and information concerning the Harris family and Milling Company. Boxes 1-2 include legal-size materials and Box 3 includes letter-size materials. There are three series in this collection; Harris business, personal, and Minnie Vroman Papers. Most of the materials were produced or collected by Richard O. Harris. The materials include adverting materials, inventories, price lists, product information, company publications, photographic materials, insurance and stock information, board of directors meeting minutes, correspondence, and company records and ledgers. The collection is organized by size, alphabetically and chronologically. Both boxes are legal-size.
Of special note are the Articles of Merger and Merger Agreement detailing how the Harris Milling Company was subsumed by the Nebraska Consolidated Mills Company, a badly damaged daguerreotype of an unknown white woman with a broach, who may be Jane Daniel Fulbright (see the last letter in Personal Correspondence folder), and papers for a milling course Richard O. completed.
Also in the collection are illustrative materials, including photographs and sketches of plans for transport trucks with the Harris Milling Company/FAMO logo in watercolor.
Related family materials include: miscellaneous items documenting Richard O. Harris’ daughter Mary Jane Harris (later Waterhouse)’s involvement with local stage events; papers of Minnie Vroman including a 1909 Chicago x-ray receipt and bills related to a week spent at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1917 for gastic issues. There are also papers and a photograph (with unidentified people, probably a Boy Scouts troop and leader) atop a submarine at the Beacon Institute of U.S. Submarine Base New London, Connecticut to which an unknown member of the Harris family was affiliated.
A 2019 addition (Box 3) includes a 1938 Central State Teachers College (CSTC) football schedule of home games on a football shaped program, and a CSTC lecture course season ticket for Kathleen Ordway. Mount Pleasant High School materials include: a 1925 student and staff photograph by T. T. Mock, Battle Creek, Michigan, outside the old high school (photocopy 8 pp.); a 1925 commencement program, a black and white photograph of the 50th reunion of the class of 1925 in 1975; and acidic blue line revision drawings (4 pp.), each of which measures 18x24 inches, of the new Mount Pleasant High School by Louis C. Kingscott and Associates, Inc, Kalamazoo (architects and engineers), April 20, 1953 including a presentation drawing, floor plans for the English, Social Science and Language unit, a floor plan for the science unit with a sectional view of the unit, and a floor plan of the commercial unit (in 1 Oversized Folder). Also included is the October 27, 2000 invitation to the historic marker dedication for Harris Mill. Last is John A. Harris materials including his Civil War service records (copies, 10 pp.), a photograph (copy), presentation reading notes of Anne Harris Hunnewell for the Pasadena Civil War Round Table about John Harris (4 pp.), and letter and envelope (copy) about the John A. Harris materials from Anne Harris Hunnewell to her Grandpa Richard. Also included are 1999 copies from the Internet of a list of John’s unit members (4 pp.), and a map of Eureka, Michigan (1 p.).
Much of this collection was heavily damaged and was infested with stinkbugs. The archivist and processing student met with the university insect exterminator and determined these bugs were not a threat to the collection. All stinkbugs were contained and removed from the collection. Items with mold, mildew, water, or fire damage, as well as acidic papers were photocopied and withdrawn from the collection during processing, about 1 cubic foot total. Also, during processing one general Mount Pleasant item was added to the Vertical Files.
Three-dimensional items transferred to the CMU Museum in February 2019 where they can receive expert curatorial care include: keychain, patch, matchbooks, product cards, dog food and flour bags, Harris Milling Company FAMO Dairy Feed 100 lbs Bag Sketches (24% and 16%, each measures 18x12 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO Broiler Ration 25 lbs Bag Sketches (1 is 20%, the other has no % indicated), each measures 18x12 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO 16% Dairy Feed 100 lbs White Bag Sketch, measures 18x12 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO Self-rising Bleached Flour Cloth 10lbs Bag, stamped “Emergency Quality Milled Under Gov’t. Order W.F.O. 144,” measures 16.5x10 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO Self-rising Bleached Flour Cloth 10lbs Bag, measures 17x10 inches, undated; Martha White’s FAMO Self-rising Enriched Bleached Flour .5lbs Bags, (1 plain, 1 with images), each measures 11.5x5.5 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO Self-rising Bleached Flour Paper 10lbs Bag, stamped “Emergency Quality Milled Under Gov’t. Order W.F.O. 144,” measures 19.25x10 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company Hi-Value Dog Food Paper 25lbs Bag, measures 31x11 inches, undated; Harris Milling Company FAMO Beef Builder Paper 50lbs Bag, measures 34.5x16 inches, undated; Harris Milling Sample Bag (linen) and Harris Ranch Almond Bag (cotton), undated; and a booklet: Michigan. Dept. of Agriculture. Selection…, 1961.
- Biographical / Historical:
In 1852, expert cork cutter William S. Harris immigrated with his family to the United States from London, England in search of land or remunerative employment. He settled in Montcalm County, Michigan as a farmer. Two years after securing land, he died circa 1854, leaving behind his wife Sarah Heath Harris, three sons: John A, Henry G., and William E., and two unidentified daughters. Harris’s family continued to maintain the farm in the following decades.
In 1872, John A., Henry G., and William E. Harris moved the family residence to Isabella County, while maintaining the original farm. The original government title and adjoining properties, which the mill occupied, were previously held by Isaac Fancher. On June 6, 1866, Fancher sold the property to Alexander and Harrison Hapner. The deed also contained the right of way for a mill race. Later that year, the Hapner brothers built a dam on the property. It appears that this right of way was a source of contention until 1874 when the dispute was seemingly resolved and the deed was finally officially recorded.
The Harris Brothers firm, consisting of John A. and Henry G. and their brother-in-law Warner Churchill, erected a mill in Mount Pleasant which was located south of Broadway Street and north of Mill Street in 1872. (See modern, 1879, and 1899 maps in Biographical Information folder.) The mill was in full operation in 1873 and was doing good business prior to the formation of the Harris Milling Company. The firm maintained the mill until 1898 when the Harris Milling Company, Limited, was organized. The mill produced flour, pancake mix, dog food and animal feed, seeds, and grain, often for the FAMO brand. The mill operated via water power on the Chippewa River until 1907. William E. Harris, brother to John A. and Henry G., worked as the miller for a time. Henry G. eventually retired and became a profitable ginseng farmer. John A.’s son, Edward Owen Harris, one of the first American born Harris family members, began working at the mill when he was only eighteen-years-old, in 1895. John A. retired in 1910. In 1907, Edward O.’s son, Richard Owen Harris, took control of the Harris Milling Company. Richard O.’s son, Edward Owen II, also worked at the mill. The company branched out over the years, operating several mills along the Ann Arbor Railroad line including mills in Owosso, Alma, and Cadillac, Michigan, among others. The company maintained partnerships with FAMO, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Pillsbury.
In May 1907, Edward O. Harris purchased and operated the Harris Electric Plant, supplying power to the mill and the City of Mount Pleasant. The Harris family also owned a Bakery and Refreshment Parlor in Mount Pleasant through John A.’s son, Ralph Garbutt Harris, and the Harris Trust and Savings Bank through another relative. Edward O. Harris served as mayor of Mount Pleasant, 1929-1933. He also donated the Jane Harris Cabin along the Chippewa River to the Girl Scouts in 1938, named after his daughter, Jane Harris (died 1953). Richard O. Harris purchased and operated The Cabin (bar and restaurant) in Mount Pleasant from 1967 until his death in 2002. In 2019 The Cabin remains a Mount Pleasant landmark.
In 1966, under Richard O. Harris the Harris Milling Company merged with Nebraska Consolidated Milling Company. Eventually all the Harris mills closed. The original mill in Mount Pleasant caught fire one week after closing its doors, burning so hotly that the utility pole across the street caught fire and the lights atop the fire trucks melted. What was left of the building was demolished later with a controlled fire. As of 2018, none of the Harris Milling Company mills exist.
Minnie Vroman (1883-1925) was the daughter of Seth and Mary Vroman, a sister to Edward O. Harris’ wife, Pearl Vroman (1887-1938). Born in Brady, Michigan, Minnie was a music teacher in the Holland public schools in 1910. She lived with Pearl in the early 1920s and died in Kalamazoo in 1925.
(This information is from various family obituaries, various genealogical research sites, Past and Present of Isabella County, Michigan (1911) by Hon. Isaac A. Fancher, Then and Now Mount Pleasant (2006) by Jack R. Westbrook, Images of America Isabella County 1859-2009 (2008) by Jack R. Westbrook, The Big Picture Book of Mount Pleasant, Michigan Yesteryears to 2010 (2010) by Jack R. Westbrook, the Harrison B. Hapner Papers (also housed in the Clarke), politicalgraveyard.com (accessed July 11-12, 2018), Google Maps (accessed in July 2018 and from the collection itself.)
John A. Harris (born 1843 England-died 1918 Mount Pleasant, Mich.). A resident of Eureka, Michigan, he enlisted on Aug. 8, 1862 at Greenville for 3 years in the 21st Michigan Infantry Company F. He was transferred to the Invalid Corps on January 15, 1864 and was discharged at Detroit on July 6, 1865. He married Kate Holmden on May 3, 1872 in Greenville. They lived in Mount Pleasant. In 1880 he was a miller living in Union Township, Isabella County, Michigan, with his wife and children: Cassius, age 8, Hettie, age 6, and Edward O., age 4. In 1900 he lived on Oak street with his wife and children: Edward O. 22, Ralph G., 16, Elizabeth B., 10, and Sara 9. On December 4, 1897 at age 67 he married Helen Harris at Spring Lake, Isabella County. Elizabeth, 20, and Sara, 18, lived with them on Oak Street. He died from pneumonia in May 1918. (This information is from ancestry.com, viewed Dec. 2019.) Kathleen Ordway was a CSTC freshman 1938-1939 (CMU Chippewa.) Richard O. Harris graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1925 and attended the 1975 reunion. (This information is from the collection. New subject headings: Harris, John A., 1843-1918
- Acquisition Information:
- Acc#76243, 76679
Arrangement is by size, alphabetical and chronological.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Mills and mill-work.
Famo Feeds, Inc.
United States. Army. Michigan Infatnry Regiment, 21st (1862-1865). Company F.
National Register of Historic Places.
Louis C. Kingscott and Associates, Inc.
Mount Pleasant High School (Mount Pleasant, Mich.)
Central Michigan University--History.
Central Michigan University--Football.
Harris Milling Company (Mount Pleasant, Mich.)
Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Harris, Richard Owen, 1908-2002.
Harris, John A., 1842-1918.
Harris, Edward Owen, 1877-1971.
Vroman, Minnie, 1883-1925.
Mount Pleasant (Mich.)--History.
Mount Pleasant (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
Mount Pleasant (Mich.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Isabella County (Mich.)--History.
Isabella County (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
Shiawassee County (Mich.)--History.
Shiawassee County (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
Owosso (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
Using These Materials
Richard Owen Harris, Harris Family and Milling Company Collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright is unknown.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Richard Owen Harris, Harris Family and Milling Company Collection, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University