Historians agree that the Industrial Revolution was one of the most important events in history. The height of the industrial revolution in Niles, in 1905, saw J. Edward, son of J.W. French assume the helm of the family business. According to the online historical timeline of the company located at http://frenchsampleroom.typepad.com/:
“The second 25 years saw a new name, new President and the new hydro-electric plant on the banks of the St. Joe. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing as was French Paper.”
In 1915, the concrete dam and flumes were built and by 1917, the third generation of the French family in the person of Frank G. French began working at the mill to learn the business from the ground up. On May 6, 1908, the Niles Daily Star reported that “the French mills are busy despite business depression … the plant and yards occupy 60 acres, employ 225 hands, produce 300 tons of board and paper per week and use 400 cords of wood per week.”
Jerry French, the company’s current president provides this update:
“Today about 75 people are employed at French Paper and we produce approximately the same amount of paper with one less paper machine. A lot has changed since 1907 and I can only imagine how many people it took to move 400 cords of wood each week.
“The average wage in 1907 was close to .32 cents per hour and today it averages over $17.00 per hour plus generous benefits."
Published August 7th, 2009