Photo - Looking West Down Main Street Upper Mills N.B., Canada 1924 - Courtesy Karen McCray Northrup Collection
Many families came to Upper Mills to either farm or work in the local saw and box mills. Logging became an important export to Europe, America and locally for a growing "Canada" aspiring to become a nation. Mills popped up just about anywhere there was timber and fast water. So, when the mills came so did the people to work in them. "Upper Mills became a thriving town with large tracts of available timber and the St. Croix River to power the mills to cut it. Sawyers", river drivers, loggers and millhands. These occupations along with farmer seem to be the most prevalent in the Upper Mills census data. So, if you weren't a farmer then you most likely worked in the timber and associated industries.
Upper Mills, aptly named, was above Chase's mills across the the St. Croix River from it's American "twin", Baring, Maine. These two towns were generally considered one. There were no "real" borders between these two towns. In fact many people were born , lived, worked, married, died and were buried on either side of the river. There was a bridge between Baring and Upper Mills first erected about 1804. At the time this was the only bridge across the St. Croix in the area. The bridge was built roughly at the intersection of the Marsh Road and Loop Road in Upper Mills and extended across the St. Croix River to Front St. in Baring. It was a wooden bridge and was always at the mercy of the river. Rot, floods and finally fire led to the demise of the bridge in the 1950's. With a dwindling population this was the final blow to the bridge and it was never rebuilt. Remnants can still be seen today. The Baring customs house, however dilapidated, is still quite visible at the end of Front St. along with the road leading up to where the bridge would have met the river.
Chase's mills were on the Baring, Maine side of the St. Croix River and were owned by Granville Chase. This man likely had a profound impact on the economics of the area, on both sides of the river. Even though nothing remains of the Chase Mills today, and the area where it was is covered with brush and overgrowth, the importance of his influence can be seen today in Upper Mills. A church bell from the original Upper Mills Methodist Church is currently displayed on the front lawn of the current church with his name inscribed in the steel as a memorial to his contributions to the area. The bell hung in the original church from 1875 to 1977. A tragic fire burned the church to the ground in 1977. A new, more modern, church was erected a year later by volunteers and the bell placed in front of the new church as a permanent memorial of this mans influence on this hamlet.
Indications of a growing community included the addition of stores, churches, clubs and even bridges. Over time many beautiful homes (See Gallery Places) were added to the village. The majority of the village was built in the 1800's. It grew quickly. Masons were prevalent as well and a warrant for the Alley Lodge F.&A.M. (See Gallery Links for more info) was granted May 13th, 1868 from the New Brunswick Grand Lodge. A store that was owned by the Woodcock family eventually came under the ownership of this writers parents and lasted until the 1950's. A post office (See Gallery links for a view of a postal stamp) was also part of the community from about 1868 until 1960. The first postmaster was C.A. Robinson and the last was Arthur Moses Montgomery who resigned on August 24th, 1960. It had closed from September 30th, 1899 until June 1st, 1913. It then closed for the last time on September 30th, 1960. A community cemetery was built on property near the original church off the Hall Road. Many members of the community (See gallery links for more details and transcription) are buried here.
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