How Orrs Mills Road got its name….
John Orr was born in County Armagh, Ireland, on Dec. 31, 1820, and was a son of David and Elizabeth (Stewart) Orr, the former being a successful miller in the city of Armagh. His grandparents were John and Susan (Orr) Orr, and his great-grandfather was Robert, who was born in Scotland and removed to the north of Ireland about the year 1700. The former was a miller by trade, and the latter a wheelwright.
The children of David and Elizabeth S. Orr were David, who died in childhood; John; Jane Ann, who married Joseph S. Pruden, of New York City; Susan, who married George G. Sims, of Cleveland, Ohio.
Mrs. Elizabeth S. Orr died in 1822, and David Orr married, for a second wife, Jane Stewart, a cousin of his first wife. Of this union were born William; Mary Elizabeth, who married John J. Van Duzer, of Cornwall; and Sarah, who married Jesse B. Birdsall, of Newburgh. David Orr died in 1843, aged about fifty-two, and his wife, .lane Stewart, in the spring of 1881, in the town of Monroe, Orange Co., where she was residing with her daughter, Mrs. Van Duzer. Her remains were interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, in the lot of her son William.
John Orr received a common-school education in his native country, and afterwards learned the trade of a miller with his father. In 1842, he came to America and first located in New Windsor, where he worked in Morton's mill, at Vail's Gate, for a short time. He then removed to Shawangunk, Ulster Co., working in James Mitchell's mill for one year and a half, and then in the Walden mills, Montgomery, for one year. In October 1844, he married Mary, daughter of Robert and Mary (Cooper) Fulton, of New Windsor, and on April 1, 1845, took up his residence in Cornwall, going into partnership with Robert E. Ring, at the Townsend mill. After three years, he purchased his present mill at Mountainville, of Samuel Ketcham, and ran that for seven years. He then leased the old Townsend mill for five years, and operated both mills for three years. At the end of that time, he surrendered the balance of his lease of the Townsend mill to his brother William. In 1860, he formed a partnership with the latter and Joseph S. Pruden, and operated the Mountainville mill under the firm-name of John Orr & Co.
Shortly after the firm purchased the Townsend cotton-factory property and gristmill, and operated that under the name of William Orr & Co. This arrangement continued until 1865, when Joseph 8. Pruden withdrew from the firm, which was changed to J. & W. Orr. In 1866 the latter erected the " Cornwall Flouring-Mills," at a coat of about $30,000, on the site of the Townsend mill, and continued business there until 1877, when John Orr disposed of his interest to John Mitchell, and resumed the operation of his Mountainville mill, which he repurchased in 1876, and where he continues at the present time.
Mr. Orr is recognized as one of the influential citizens of Cornwall, and through a long business career has earned the reputation of an upright and honorable man. Besides his mill property at Mountainville, he owns the Samuel Ketcham residence and farm at that place, the Woodbury factory in the town of Monroe, and other real estate. He is popular in the town, and held the office of supervisor in 1868 and 1869. He has taken a deep interest in the local development of Mountainville, and lent liberal support to the progressive and elevating movements of his day. He is a member of the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. Eight children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Orr, of whom five survive, namely: Susan A., wife of Lewis A. Van Cleft, Woodbury; Addie; Margaret, wife of D. E. Sutherland, of Cornwall; Emma; and Jessie.
William Orr was born in the city and county of Armagh, Ireland, Dec. 23, 1830, where his father was engaged in successful business as a miller. His ancestry is more particularly referred to in the biographical sketch of his older brother, John Orr, in this work.
On Feb. 11, 1847, Mr. Orr came to this country, having decided to make his home in the New World, where several sisters and a brother had preceded him.
He resided for one year with his brother John, at Cornwall, and attended school at the excellent institution of Rev. Alfred C. Roe, of that place. During the same year, he worked in the mill of Sylvanus Howell, in Shawangunk village, Ulster Co., for two months, performing his work to the full satisfaction of his employer. The next three years were spent in learning the miller's trade with his brother John, at Mountainville. In 1851, he went to Haverstraw, N. Y., where he operated a mill as first miller for the very remunerative stipend of eleven dollars a month and his board. After one year, he filled a similar position in the mill of James R. Dickson, of Newburgh, at sixteen dollars a month. He remained there nearly a year, and then worked in the employ of his brother John, at Mountainville, from 1853 to 1855. In the latter year, he operated the Mountainville mill for his brother at a salary of five hundred dollars. The year following he had a quarter interest in the profits of the mill, his partners being John Orr and Thomas Fulton. The third year he was an equal partner with his brother in conducting the mill.
In the years 1858 and 1859, Mr. Orr operated the old Townsend mill on his own account, meeting with great success. In 1860, he became one of the firm of John Orr & Co., consisting of John Orr, Joseph S. Pruden, and himself, and operated the mill at Mountainville. Subsequently the same copartners purchased the Townsend mill property, and ran that, under the firm-name of William Orr & Co., until 1865, when Mr. Pruden withdrew, and the firm of J. & W. Orr was formed. In 1866, the latter firm erected the Cornwall Flouring Mills, on the site of the Townsend mill, at a cost of about thirty thousand dollars. The building, 40 by 80 feet in dimensions, comprises three stories and a basement, and is one of the finest of its kind in the county.
The firm of J. & W. Orr continued to carry on a successful business until 1877, when John Orr disposed of his interest to John Mitchell of Meadow Brook Farm, Cornwall, and the firm of William Orr & Co. was organized. The latter continued to run the Cornwall Flouring-Mills until April 1, 1881, when Mr. Mitchell disposed of his interest to William Orr, who is now operating the mill with great success.
Mr. Orr is recognized as one of the most intelligent and enterprising of the businessmen of Cornwall. By close attention to business and industrious and economical habits, he has accumulated a good estate, and earned the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends. In 1867, he purchased the homestead of the late William H. Townsend, near his mill, and soon after began entertaining summer guests, in common with some of the best families of Cornwall. In 1870 he erected his present handsome and attractive dwelling, known as the “Moodna Mansion," on the site of, the Townsend residence, and has since continued to entertain each season, in a proper manner, a large number of guests. About 1872 he rebuilt the building known as “Overlook Cottage," near his mansion, for John Mitchell, who occupied it two seasons. Since that time, Mr. Orr has used it, in connection with his house, for the accommodation of his guests.
Mr. Orr is a popular member of the Republican party of his town, and was a supervisor in 1880. He was married on Jan. 27, 1857, to Margaret (Young) Elliot, daughter of William Drummond Elliot and Jean Stewart Lamb Elliot, of Glasgow, Scotland. Seven of the eight children are living, viz.: John engaged in business with his father; William Elliot, entry clerk with Lawson Valentine & Co., of New York; David Lincoln; Maggie; Mary; Florence; and Nellie P. Orr.