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Millard, Franklin Benjamin
(September 7, 1831–February 1, 1909)

–lumberman—was born in the relative comfort of Hampton, New York. In 1864, at the age of 33, Frank, along with his wife, Annie Catlett Millard, and baby, Courtney, made the journey to Burlington, Iowa, and made it his home for the remainder of his life. The very spirit that drove him westward provoked his entrepreneurial endeavors in the fuel industry.

    Frank's older brother George had preceded him. When Frank arrived, the two entered the lumber business along with William E. Thompson under the name Frank Millard & Company. In the 1860s lumber was a lucrative business. Burlington was well placed on the Mississippi River to receive tremendous rafts of logs from the northern forests. The Millard brothers' lumber company thrived along with those of other early Burlington lumber firms.

    In 1879 Frank Millard sold his interest in the company and began a new trade: paint and oil. Two years later he purchased the interest of Gilbert, Hedge & Company in the Cascade Lumber Company and became president and treasurer. The company's mill was located at the river's edge and at the foot of the bluff upon which Burlington's notable Crapo Park would later sit. The Keokuk branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad ran through the yard.

    Millard spent 15 more successful years operating the Cascade Lumber Company. During seasonal peaks, the firm, with an annual capacity of seven million feet of lumber, employed as many as 50 to 60 men. Then, in 1896, fire destroyed the plant.

    Although he was 65 years of age in 1896, Millard was not yet ready for retirement. Instead, he became identified with J. D. Harmer & Company, which was located on 26.5 acres on the north side of town. Young Harmer was operating a 20-million-footcapacity lumber and planing mill and manufacturing various innovative wood products, including dovetailed window sash and non-shrink doors for which the materials were tempered in a dry kiln. Millard furnished significant funding for the enterprise and managed the business. Nevertheless, it soon failed. Having already withdrawn from the business, Millard was appointed receiver, and the business was sold.

    In his retirement, he financed the formation of a new Frank Millard Company in 1901, this time with his son-in-law John A. MacArthur as manager. With the northern forests depleted, the new company conducted a wholesale and retail business in lime, coal, and cement. Still operated by descendants in the 21st century, the Frank Millard Company is headquartered in Burlington and has satellite offices in Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant, and Keokuk. Its business has expanded to include heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, plant relocation, sheet metal fabrication, excavation, and other concerns.

    In retirement, Millard was able to enjoy his circa 1878 home, one of the finest in the city. Still occupied by descendants MacArthur and Connie Coffin, Prospect Point sits atop the Prospect Hill bluffs and commands a spectacular view of downtown Burlington, the Mississippi River, and Illinois on the opposite shore.

    A strong champion of the public schools, Frank Millard served for a number of years on the Burlington School Board but regularly declined to accept nominations for other political office. He inherited his reverence for education from his ancestors: his grandfather, Abiathar Millard, was a doctor, and his great-grandfather, Robert Millard, was a Baptist minister. Both had been born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, and later moved to New York. The first American Millard (also named Abiathar) was a proprietor in Rehoboth in 1643 and town officer in 1648. Rehoboth, which still exists today, claims to be the birthplace of public education in North America.

    Frank Millard's wife, Annie, died in 1868 at her father's home in New York only a few years after the couple had moved to Burlington. In the meantime, two children had arrived: son Homer and daughter Emma. Three years later he remarried. Ellen Blannerhasset (Hewson) Millard helped raise the children and, during his several years of poor health, nursed Frank until his death on February 1, 1909. Frank, Ellen, and Emma were all buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington, as was his brother George, who died two weeks after Frank's death.
Sources include Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa (1888); and an obituary in the Burlington Evening Gazette, 2/1/1909.
Contributor: Mary Krohlow