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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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FLETT, THOMAS WARD (1858-1918)

FLETT, THOMAS WARD, lumber company head and carding mill owner; b. United States, 5 Apr 1858, s/o John Flett and Mary Ann Underhill; m. 1882, Margaret Jane Doak, sister of Robert Harvie Doak; d. Newcastle, 2 Jan 1918.

Thomas W. Flett was born during a brief period which his mother or both parents spent in the United States. He grew up at Nelson and took over the family business shortly before his father's death. This involved the conduct of logging operations in the wintertime and of a large sawmill throughout the shipping season.

About 1882 Flett also built a rotary box shook mill, which produced lumber for packing crates used to ship everything from bananas to glassware. The shook mill burned in 1889 but was replaced the following year. By 1900 hundreds of thousands of packing boxes were being supplied annually by the mill to overseas markets as far away as the Canary Islands. Unlike the long lumber mill, the box mill was conducted the year around. It employed about forty workers, and another fifteen or more were engaged in keeping it supplied with the waste lumber which it used. In the summertime, when both mills were running, there were as many as 110 employees on the payroll. The loyalty of Flett's millworkers was proverbial. James Lynch Sr, the foreman of the sawmill in 1895, had been in the job for thirty-five years, and twenty other men had each been employed for longer than fifteen years.

Another Flett enterprise was the old carding mill, which was operated on Carding Mill Brook by Thomas Ambrose. Flett was also one of the principal farmers in Nelson, with 160 acres under cultivation in 1900 and nearly ninety head of livestock.

Flett's lumbering and milling operations were incorporated in 1905 as the Thomas W. Flett Lumber Co. Ltd. A new steam sawmill was constructed in 1906, but the business failed soon afterwards and was dissolved in 1909. In 1913 the sawmill property was acquired by William M. Sullivan of Red Bank.

Flett was a county councillor for a number of years and warden in 1893 and 1906. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and the Masonic order, being worshipful master of Northumberland Lodge in 1905. His wife, Margaret J. Doak, who lived until 1926, was superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school at Nelson for a great many years. No children were mentioned in their death notices.

Sources

[b] census (day and month); tombstone [m] Advocate 25 Jan 1882 [d] Advocate 3 Jan 1918 / Advance 29 Aug 1895, 18 Oct 1900; Advocate 29 Oct 1902, 6 Sep 1905, 18 Apr 1906, 12 Jan 1926; Leader 9 Jul 1909, 19 Jul 1963; Manny Collection (F182)


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