Hellers played big role early

The Heller family played vital roles in the history of Napoleon, especially in the city’s business climate.

Published: Northwest Signal, Monday, April 28, 2014

(Reprinted with permission of the Northwest Signal)

Editor’s note: This year will mark the 180th anniversary of Napoleon. The Henry County Historical Society is partnering with the Northwest Signal to provide historical profiles of early Napoleon businesses.

Thiesen-Hildred Lumber Co.Thiesen-Hildred Lumber Co.Thiesen-Hildred Lumber Co.John Thiesen started the Thiesen & Hildred Planing Mill. Thiesen-Hildred & Co. remained in business for a number of years at their location between the canal and the river.

They also had product and inventory located where the current Central Middle School parking lot is today.

(The photo at left above was taken in 1896 at the Scott Street entrance of the Thiesen-Hildred Lumber Co.) (Photo courtesy of Russell Patterson) (Click to enlarge)

(The photo in the middle above is the Thiesen & Hildred Planning Mill founded in 1864.) (Photo courtesy of Russell Patterson) (Click to enlarge)

(Above right is another view of the Thiesen-Hildred & Co. from the north side of the canal on Scott Street. In the background can be seen the Union School Building, currently the parking lot for Central School.) (Photo courtesy of Russell Patterson) (Click to enlarge)

Vocke MillAnother early business in 1850 was a flour mill owned by John Ritter. As with the sawmill, the flour mill was also powered by the important Miami-Erie Canal. Then in 1853, a Frenchman, Augustin Pilliod, founded the Napoleon Flouring Mill. Keep the name of Mr. Pilliod in the back of your mind as we will be referencing him again - he was an important man in our local history.

The photo at left shows the flour mill and the Vocke Mill and Store. (Photo courtesy of Russell Patterson)

In 1864, Mr. Pilliod sold the Flouring Mill to John H. Vocke, whose descendents are still residents of Napoleon. The Vocke family operated the mill for decades, and it stood like a giant sentry on the north side of the river bridge. Mr. Vocke was instrumental in building one of three bridges which crossed the canal. He did this at his own expense, and added to the continued success of his business.

(Information courtesy of Russell Patterson and the Henry County Historical Society.)