The Seedman of Rose Hill

In 1887, at Rose Hill, in the southern part of the Town of Marcellus, Frank B. Mills began selling seeds, turning a boyhood fascination into a business. For his first catalog, he bought a hand press, set the type, and did the printing himself. He mailed out 3,000 copies and garnered 118 customers.

By 1890, he was taking so many orders that Rose Hill needed its own post office. Frank B. Mills, conveniently, was named postmaster. In 1892, he was succeeded by his brother, William E. Mills.

PO Rose Hill NY 2

By 1895, the F.B. Mills Company had 400,000 customers, and by 1903, 800,000. Catalogs and seeds were mailed all over the world from the little post office at the front of the warehouse.

Mills lived nearby at his Fairview Farm, married to the former Grace Ackles of Spafford. His company employed more than 200 people, and peaked in size in 1908, when F.B. Mills Co. printed and mailed more than 1.5 million catalogs. World War I, the Depression and World War II all took their toll on the business, and in 1953 it closed forever.

There’s a fuller history at saveseeds.org.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Seedman of Rose Hill

  1. Hi, I have recently come across a stock certificate for the F.B. Mills company. May I use your information concerning the company on my site to describe the company (referencing you, of course)?

    Best,

    William

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