HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
The Caro saw and grist-mills were originally built by Joseph Gamble in 1867. The afterward ame into the hands of Allan Sheldon & Co., of Detroit, who sold them to J. M. Boyd & Co. Upon the failure of the last-named firm in 1876, the concern was sold by the assignees to J. D. Wilsey & Co. There are three run of stones in the grist-mill, and it is run as a custom mill, grinding probably 50,000 bushels of grain per annum. The saw-mill which is but a small one, cuts pine, hemlock, and all kinds of hardwood which grow in the county and that are used for making lumber. The two establishments employ about six persons. The capacity of the saw-mill will be increased in the season of 1883 by the addition of a circular saw. In addition to making lumber and flour, power is furnished to run the machinery in a furniture factory, chair factory, and box manufactory.
J. D. WILSEY & CO.
This firm is composed of Julian D. Wilsey and Solon P. Spafford. They were originally in business I Detroit, but closed out their establishment there in 1878 and came to Caro. They had previously had a branch store here, having in 1876 bought out the stock of J. M. Boyd & Co. from the assignees of that concern. The
purchase consisted of a stock of dry goods, groceries, crockery, glassware, hardware, etc.; also a saw and grist-mill, a brick block, thirty acres of land, and some village property. The firm carry on the store, also running the saw and grist-mill.
JULIAN D. WILSEY, of the above firm, was born at Fort Ann, Washington County, N. Y. His earliest practical business experience was in keeping books for a flour manufacturing concern at Waterford, N. Y. On coming West he located first at Detroit, where he was for a number of years assistant superintendent and bookkeeper for the Detroit & Lake Iron Manufacturing Co. Subsequently he engaged in mercantile business with Solon P. Spafford. Is also a partner in the private bank of Wilsey & McPhail at Cass City.
SOLON P. SPAFFORD, of the firm of J. D. Wilsey & Co., is a native of New Hampshire. Leaving that state his family first went to New York and afterward to Michigan, settling in Macomb County. When he became of age he went to Almont in Lapeer County where he worked at the carpenter and joiner’s trade, also farmed, and finally went into the mercantile business, which he has followed for over thirty years. At one time he owned about half of the village of Almont, and while in the building trade erected some of the first churches and other buildings in Almont and vicinity. Has been in trade in Almont, Memphis and Detroit. In 1876 came to Caro. Has held the following official positions: Postmaster at Almont, also at Memphis, and has been a member of the Caro village council for some years. Is president of the board of trustees of the Presbyterian church. Married and has two daughters.
STATE STREET PLANING MILL.
The planning-mill of Wilcox & Weale is situated in the northern part of the village of Caro and was built in 1880 by Wilcox & Blakeley. In 1881 Mr. Blakeley sold his interest to J. J. Weale and the new firm was organized. They manufacture sash, doors, blinds, moldings, siding, flooring, ceiling, etc., and do a general planning-mill business. In the spring of 1883 large additions were made to the machinery in the mill, the steady increase of their business rendering it necessary. The number of their employees has been about ten , and they will probably be obliged to increase the same. They find a ready sale in Tuscola and adjoining counties for all they make. The total amount of their business for the year 1883 will in be the neighborhood of 20,000.
JOHN J. WEALE, of the firm of Wilcox & Weale, owners of the State Street planning-mill, was born in Genesee County, N. Y. He came to Michigan in 1856, going to Clinton County, locating near Saint Johns. While there he worked at the carpenter and joiner’s trade. In 1856, he removed to Detroit. From there he went to Pennsylvania, and was in that Sate in the early days of the oil excitement. On his return to this State he remained in Detroit until 1869, when he came to Caro. Many of the principal buildings in the city were constructed by him. In November, 1881, he bought Mr. Blakeley’s interest in the State Street planing-mill and entered into co-partnership with Lonson Wilcox. During the war he served ten months in the Tenth Michigan Infantry. He has been marshal and recorder of the village of Caro. He is married and has one child.
LONSON WILCOX was born in Northville, Wayne County, Mich., where his father was in the shoemaking business. In 1858 his family moved to Elmwood, Tuscola County, and commenced farming, the son, Lonson, learning the shoemaker’s trade. In 1874 he opened a general store in Caro, following that line of business for some three years. He sold out and went into the jobbing carpenter trade continuing at that until 1880, when he and Mr. Blakeley built the planing-mill now owned by Wilcox & Weale. In 1876 he was elected a member of the village council, and in 1882 was again elected. He served ten months in the Twenty-third Michigan Infantry. He was taken prisoner at Stone Mountain and was in the “bull pens,” as they were called, at Macon and Millen, Ga., losing in sixty days about fifty pounds of flesh. He still suffers from the effects of his treatment by the rebels. He has a family, wife and two children living.
B. F. HARRIS’ ELEVATOR.
This elevator was built in 1875 by Benjamin Haskell, who sold it in 1880 to Benjamin F. Harris. It has a capacity of about 8,000 bushels and is run by steam power. It is located alongside the track o fthe M. C. R. R., in the village of Caro. The amount of grain handled in 1882-’83 will reach a total of 100,000 bushels.
The Caro elevator was built in the spring of 1878 by R. W. & F. Miller. The main building is 24x30 feet, two stories high, and has a capacity of 10,000 bushels. It is run by horse power. There are other buildings adjoining it used for storage purposes. Tn 1881 R. W. Miller retired fro the firm, and the business is now carried on by Frank Miller. It is situated near the depot of the Caro branch of the M. C. R. R. For the season of 1882-’83 it handled about 70,000 bushels of grain of various kinds. Mr. Miller also owns an elevator of Vassar.
WILLIAM PETER’S ELEVATOR
was built in 1878. It has a capacity of 10,000 bushels. It is near the depot of the Caro branch of the M. C. R. R. It handles about 70,000 bushels per annum.
M. J. CILLEY’S GRIST-MILL.
This grist-mill was built in 1879 by Briggs & Depew. Mr. Depew retiring Edward Mallory took his place. Mr. Mallory subsequently bought his partner’s interest, and in 1881 he sold the mill to Mrs. M. J. Cilley. It has three run of stones and does a mercantile trade as well as custom grinding. It is on State Street in the village of Caro.
B. F. HARRIS’ GRIST-MILL.
In connection with his elevator near the depot of the Caro branch of the M. C. R. R., Mr. Harris has a grist-mill in which are two run of stones. It is exclusively a custom mill. The machinery was put in during the early part of 1883.
PARKS’ FOUNDRY AND AGRICULTURAL WORKS.
In 1878 Edward Parks started a foundry and wagon shop in the northern part of the village of Caro on State Street. After some time the wagon making part of the business was discontinued and the manufacture of agricultural implements commenced. The establishment employs from seven to eight men, and the business is a growing one. Mr. Parks finds a market for his manufactures in Tuscola and Huron Counties.
CARO BRICK AND TILE YARD.
This yard was first put in operation by William E. Sherman in 1868, upon land leased fro David McMichael. In 1874 it was purchased by George W. Warren. Its annual product is from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 bricks and 500,000 pieces of tile. It is in the township of Indian Fields, half a mile from the village of Caro.
CARO FURNITURE FACTORY.
This establishment is located on West State Street, and is operated by Hiscock & Packer. They manufacture tables, bureaus, bedsteads, etc. It was originally started by Elum C. Hiscock in 1881. January 1, 1888, Jewett J. Packer was taken into partnership by Mr. Hiscock. They find a market at home for the whole of the product of the factory.
WISNER & RIDDLE’S MACHINE SHOP
This establishment is owned by Theodore W. Wisner, his son, Erwin F. and Frank D. Riddle. It is on State Street in the village of Caro. They manufacture edgers for saw-mills, horse-powers, wood-sawing machines, drag saws, etc. Their principal business, however, is repairing. The employ about five men, including themselves.
SMITH AND FORBES’ TOBACCO FACTORY.
This firm commenced operation as manufacturers of cigars in the village of Caro in February, 1882. Their business, which at the time of writing this notice, is only about a year in existence, has grown rapidly and they now employ five hands at cigar making. Mr. Smith is a practical cigar maker himself, and Mr. Forbes attends to the selling of their goods. They sell their goods in this and adjoining counties.
CARO STAVE AND HEADING WORKS.
These works were built in 1882 by Hood & Brown. They are located near the depot of the Caro branch of the M. C. R. R. They are run by steam power and employ an average of twenty-five hands. The capacity of the works is 24,000 staves, 12,000 pieces of heading and 2,500 sets of heading per diem. The product of the establishment is shipped as far east as Massachusetts and west to St. Louis, Mo. Mr. Brown is the resident partner and superintends the works.
CARO DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION.
Prior to the spring of 1882 the people of Caro endeavored to secure the location of the county fair grounds at that point, claiming that such a location would be more central and therefore better accommodate the people of all parts of the county. The committee of the county society, however, decided to hold their fair for 1882 upon the grounds at Watrousville, and the Caro people immediately took steps toward the organization of a separate association. The result was that the Caro District Agricultural Association was formed March 11, 1882, under an act of the legislature of the State of Michigan, entitled “An act to authorize the formation of county and town agricultural societies,” approved February 12, 1855, and acts amendatory thereto.” Compiled Laws 1871, page 707. A fine tract of land containing twenty-two acres, located near the railroad and but a short distance from the center of the village was secured and has been fitted up with suitable buildings, a good half-mile track, etc. The first officers and directors of the association were as follows:
President, John F. Wilmot; secretary, George S. Ralston; treasurer, James W. Spencer; marshal, William McKay; vice-president, S. B. Bourn, John C. Laing, Elmwood; J. D. Sutton, F. L. Wait, Almer; Jacob Gould, James Kirk, Unionville; John G. Veit, John A. Teskey, Koylton; Emanuel Staley; directors, A. C. Young, Charles Montague, S. P. Spafford, F. H. Thomas, M. R. Truesdell, Joseph St. Mary, C. H. Van Wagoner, B. F. Nettleton, John F. Pamer.
The first fair was held on the grounds September 19, 20, 21 and 22, 1882, and was a pronounced success.
The officers and directors for 1883 are as follows: President, A. C. Young; secretary, G. S. Ralston; treasurer, J. W. Spencer; directors, M. R. Truesdell, F. L. Wait, G. S. Farrar, J. A. Teskey, H. D. Hamilton, J. Kirk. S. P. Spafford, J. D. Sutton, Charles Montague.