Tha community at Herron’s Mills was thrown into a state of considerable excitement last Thursday afternoon over the discovery, flight, pursuit, and capture of a young man burglar who had entered Mr. James Herron’s house, picked up money and other valuables, and was only found out when his plan waa nearing completion.
Tho violator of the eighth commandment was well known in Lanark village, and his depravity was deplored by his aqaintances and friends, who thought him above such an act. It appears that he had entered the house by the back entrance, while the women of the house were engaged with duties in the basement kitchen.
Rubber over his boots rendered the burglars approach noiseless. Proceeding with his unholy work unholy work, he gathered onto himself a purse, a roll of money amounting to nearly one hundred dollars, and a five dollar gold piece which detached from a watch chain, which was the property of Mr. John Herron Jr.
Hearing footsteps stopped from him further operation and he then hid behind a piece of furniture. With the intention of dusting the furniture, Miss Mary Herron entered the room where the man was hiding, and while she was dusting the sofa she was suddenly amazed to see a man emerge from behind and rush out of the room and on outside.
Mary at once shrieked an alarm and the workmen about the place were summoned, and at once began a pursuit. Tha offender was run down after a short chase. Ha had sought refuge in a dark swamp where he was surrounded and finally captured. The money and valuables were restored. After a short imprisonment the burglar was set at liberty on the condition that he should leave the neighborhood at once. It was hoped that because he was shown clemency his ways would change.
Gillies’ Mills remained for sale until 1871 when the Herron brothers, James and John, also immigrants from Scotland, arrived. In contrast to John Gillies’ somewhat jaded view of the area’s long-term prospects, the Herrons were enthusiastic about the area’s future and purchased the mills along with 100 acres of cleared farm land. They immediately added a bake house, shingle mill and accommodation and outbuildings for their workers. John Munroe added a tannery that operated for a number of years. Soon after the Herrons took over, the settlement was renamed Herron’s Mills.
One major difference between the Gillies and Herron operations was the strong community spirit the brothers instilled. Although John Gillies had been a well liked and respected businessman, social activities grew in abundance after the Herrons took over. Recreation included winter skating on the mill pond, followed by bonfires and hot meals for all in the Herron household. The Herrons also established a school with teachers being partially compensated in room and board from local families.
One of the most important functions was the opening of the post office in 1891. The post office was located in the large family home, built by John Gillies. James Herron and his wife jointly operated the post office until 1915, when it was closed following the arrival of rural mail delivery.
The Herron brothers optimism about the mills’ future turned out to be amply justified. Although the dam was seriously damaged during spring floods in 1896, it was quickly rebuilt and reinforced with a protective dam further upstream. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Herrons were sawing about 8,000 board-feet of lumber per day. Up to 20 employees worked at the mill during the busy season. The brothers finally ended their partnership in 1919, after 38 successful and profitable years. James’ son, Alexander, took over the helm.
Unfortunately Herron’s Mills was hit hard by the depression. By the early 1940s, the wool and carding mill and sawmill were gone, although sawing still took place sporadically for local interests. Alexander passed away in 1946. His sister Mary, continued to operate the business until 1951, when it was shut down permanently.
Today, apart from the handsome Gillies home, most of Herron’s Mills lies in ruins. Although the ruins lie on private property, the remains of the dam and many of the early structures can be easily viewed from the roadside. A new owner recently acquired the property and the Gillies’ home has been extensively renovated. (from Ontario Ghost Towns – Jeri Danyleyko)’from MVTM