Photo courtesy Brighton Digital Archives
The early days of the Orland Mill
Stephen Bletcher Newcomb (1816-1868) moved his family from Hope Township in the 1840s, maybe as early as 1843, and around 1851 built a grist mill at Concession 7, Lot 8, Brighton Township. This is the area where the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation area is today. In the next few decades, there would be as many as five or six other mills in this area due to the good prospects for water power on Cole Creek (later changed to Cold Creek since the Coles moved in the 1870s). I like to call this an industrial mall, mid-1800s style.
The Brighton and Seymour Gravel Road was built between 1853 and 1856, going from Harbour Street in Brighton, north of Codrington to meet the road from Campbellford. This new road replaced the Old Percy Road and much of it in the area we are discussing was located a mile or two east of the old road, on easier ground. As a result, people moved from the old road to the new road in order to be near the traffic.
By the later 1860s, Joseph Bletcher Newcomb, a son of Stephen Bletcher Newcomb, decided he needed to move his milling operation to the new road. He leased and then purchased a small bit of land at the intersection of the new road, called The Gravel, and the creek, about a mile east of his old mill. He built a mill in that new spot. There are stories of the old mill being moved to the new location, but most likely he used many important parts of the old mill to build the new one but would have wanted a new structure for the new business.
When the mill proved to be successful in this new location, Joseph B. Newcomb purchased the land and added more as he built up his business. As often happened with mills on main roads, people gravitated there, and a small village grew up around the mill, called Newcomb’s Mills. Makes sense. One of Stephen’s uncles, Thomas Newcomb, was miller at this mill until his death in 1897.
Joseph B. Newcomb owned the mill for less than a decade. In 1877, he sold it to Chester and Cowell Loomis, who were from the same area west of today’s Orland. The first mill was destroyed by fire in 1892 or 1893. A new much larger and more modern mill was built at that time, and what we see in pictures taken in the 19-teens and later.
Editor’s note: An unverified story has the original waterwheel resting in the pond. Absent authentication, Dan was reluctant to include this detail, but has heard the rumour.