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Historic places and people in the land of milk and honey: Wisconsin's treasure: a tribute to our past, a celebration of the present and our commitment to continue the good life

[The Ela factory],   p. 35 PDF (370.7 KB)

Page 35

Richard Emerson Ela started out from
Lebanon, NH and after a variety of jobs
and places, he landed in Rochester. In the
spring of 1839, he built a 1-1/2 story house
on the east side of the Fox River. He began
making fanning mills in his basement and
soon had a factory across the river. His
house was eventually enlarged to twelve
first and second floor rooms, four basement
rooms and three attics. This space was
needed for ten children, hired help, and
visitors, Many were businessmen who
bought his machines or were involved in his
branch shops. Ela did much to help make
this area an agricultural center.
The large factory Ela built on the west side
of the river, beside the fanning mills, pro-
duced plows, milk safes, carriages and
wagons. By 1842 he was making 100 mills a
year plus all the other implements. Due to
Ela, Rochester became the agricultural
heart of the farm implement industry in
Wisconsin. He was awarded silver and
bronze medals by the Wisconsin State
Agricultural Society in 1852 and 1853 for the
best exhibit of agricultural implements
manufactured in Wisconsin.
He closed his business in 1871. A cheese
factory and a button factory used the site
at one time. Eventually the area became
Pioneer Park, a memorial to Ela by his
descendents and given to the Village of
The park is used for Memorial Day celebra-
tions  and  most recently for the
Sesquicentennial Water Carnival.
                              Edwin Ela

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