F.E. Miller Lumber & Sons
Parish, N.Y.

Aerial View of Miller Lumber Co.
Aerial View of Miller Lumber Co.

By Mary Lou Miller Guindon, daughter of the late Marvin Miller.

Frank Earl Miller, at the age of 29, started out in 1897 with a mill on the island at the dam. He had second water rights. There were days when he would be shut down, due to the work at the Richards Feed Mill whom had the first water rights. In the early 1900's he moved his shop behind his house at 2998 West Main Street, presently occupied by Marion Popp. He didn't have a sawmill until a few years later. His father, John Henry Miller, built many houses in the Parish area, so it was only natural for Frank to go into the lumbering business. He began by producing sashes, moldings, and blinds, along with fancy brackets. Within fifteen years he had evolved into the retail lumber trade.

Frank & son, Lynn, became active in the business in 1924. Upon Lynn's marriage in 1930, his wife Lucille
Courbat joined the business. She retired in 1990 after 60 dedicated years.

F. E. Miller, with early lumber truck.
F. E. Miller, with early lumber truck.

Frank and Lynn were the first to have three phase electric service in this area. The electric company was anxious in the early 30's to introduce this three-phase power in the community and installed it free of charge except for the materials. They began with waterpower, then steam and finally present day electricity. At this time they were cutting out the wooden frames for the Franklin Automobile. A local resident of Parish test-drove those early cars. Many a time, he would drive one out to Parish and join Lynn in their pastime of fishing, while the car was on blocks with the motor running up the miles.

In the year 1940, due to the death of his father, Lynn took over entire control. The business had been moved across the road to its present day location in that same year. In 1950 a newer mill was built along with electrical service. In the late 40s and 50s their biggest account was turning bowling pins, more than 16,000 a month during their peak seasons. 

At the end of World War II, Lynn and two sons, Marvin and Robert began to take a small part in the lumber business. From 1952 - 1957 Robert worked at the mill during the day and worked nights at General Electric in Syracuse. By 1958, they assumed a major role in the lumberyard. In that year an addition was added to house a modern retail sales store. In the 50s and 60s their biggest accounts were with Stickley and Carrier. Sashes and windows were assembled until 1965. Employee, Bill Weldon would be the last to produce those windows.

Due to Lynn's failing health, Marvin and Robert began maintaining the operation in the early 70's. In 1973, they purchased twenty-six adjoining acres and invested in new machinery. At this time, the fourth generation of Millers took part in the operation, Marvin and Joyce Webb Miller's sons, Kenneth and Frank, along with Robert and Sandy Sutliff Miller's sons, Scott and Chris.

The majority of their products in the 70's were rough and finished lumber and the manufacturing of pallets. In 1974, they supplied roadway markings for the construction work on Rt. 81. 

In 1981, Marvin lost his battle with cancer at the age of 49. Robert and his two sons took over this expanding business.

On October 11, 1989 this landmark lumber business, sawmill was completely destroyed by fire. It took 125
firefighter (8 companies) six hours to gain control of the blaze. All that remained of the sawmill was a slumped metal building. It was out of operation for seven months. The community helped keep the Miller tradition alive by giving of its time and hard work on the three consecutive weekends after the fire. Volunteers consisted of relatives, carpenters, sawyers, contractors and friends, helping with the initial cleanup of the building, the framing as well as the roofing.

At present, there is manufacturing lumber for export and domestic use as well as furniture, skids and pallets.

Marvin and Robert never had to make any molding. Lynn had to make so much of it as a young man; he never put any of that tiresome labor on his sons. Yet, Robert's son, Scott rebuilt an 1888 sticker and produced molding for his entire house in the early 1990s. Scott's son, Brandon has shown a big interest in the lumber business.

Another 5th generation family member, William J Presley Jr., began working at the mill shortly after graduation in 1997.  He is the grandson of the late Marvin Miller

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Copyright © 2000 Mary Lou Miller Guindon, and Photographs
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