E. Golden Filer


Portrait And Biographical Record Of Northern Michigan
Containing Portraits And Biographical Sketches Of Prominent
And Representative Citizens
Record Publishing Co., 1895

E. Golden Filer. As a representative of a well known pioneer family of manistee County, Mr. Filer has added luster to the honored name he bears. Throughout this section of the state he is regarded with the highest confidence as a business man of good judgment and unimpeachable integrity, and the events of his life will therefore possess more than ordinary interest for our readers. He is the son of Delos L. Filer, whose biographical sketch precedes this.

The birth of our subject occurred in New York State, December 4, 1841. At eight years of age he accompanied the other members of his family to Racine, Wis., and was a student in the public schools of that city until fourteen years of age, when he came to Manistee with his parents. For two or three years he worked in the mill and store of E. & J. Canfield, by whom his father was employed as a bookkeeper. For a considerable period he was also employed in the woods, at a salary of $16 per month. In 1858 he entered college at Racine, remaining two years. Afterward he spent one year as a law student in the office of T.J. Ramsdell, of Manistee.

When Mr. Ramsdell was elected to the State Legislature Mr. Filer accompanied him to Lansing, receiving an appointment as clerk in the Auditor General's office, under Hon. L.G. Berry. Being under twenty-one, the politicians objected to him in that position, but he retained it for two years, discharging the duties of the position satisfactorily. In August 1862, he enlisted in Company A, Twentieth Michigan Infantry, which joined the Army of the Potomac after the battle of Antietam. By order of General Burnside our subject was detailed to perform duty in the commissary department of the Ninth Army Corps, and was connected with that department until his discharge.

June 28, 1863, Mr. Filer and four hundred Union soldiers were captured by the enemy at Edward's Ferry, and under cavalry escort marched from Sunday morning until Monday afternoon at three, without either food or rest. So exhausting was the journey on the hot summer day that many of the men fell by the wayside, unable to walk further. At the end of the march all were paroled in an open field twenty-two miles from Baltimore. In that city, which Mr. Filer found under martial law, he remained on parole one month and then reported to the Commissary Department at Washington for duty. He was ordered to Bealeton Station, Va., where he remained thirty days, and was then transferred to Ft. Foote, Md. After three months he was again ordered to Washington, where he remained one year in the Commissary Department.

During his service in the army, in the fall of 1864, Mr. Filer received word that his mother had died. By furnishing a substitute he was enabled to secure his discharge, after which he returned to Michigan and assisted his father in the large lumber business in Manistee. In the fall of 1866, in connection with his father and brother D.W., he commenced the erection of a mill at the head of Manistee Lake, the structure having a capacity of seventy thousand feet of lumber per day. The firm of D.L. Filer & Sons, organized at that time, was composed of Delos L. Filer, and his sons, E. Golden and Delos W.

In 1868 the father of our subject left his property in charge of his sons and removed to Ludington, in which city he had large interests in the Pere Marquette Lumber Company. Our subject then assumed the entire management of the business at Manistee, which he has continued to control to the present time. With John Canfield, he has been interested in large land purchases in Wisconsin, and with Charles F. Ruggles has made similar purchases in Minnesota. He settled up the immense estate left by his father, and with the widow and heirs, retains his interests at Ludington. The little village surrounding the Filer Mills bears the name of Filer City and is virtually owned by the family. The township in which the city stands also bears the name of Filer.

A description of the sawmill and salt block, owned by the firm of D.L. Filer & Sons, will doubtless be of general interest. The mill stands on the shores of Manistee lake, and is provided with ample shipping facilities, both by lake and rail. It is fitted up with the latest and most approved machinery, and has a capacity of seven hundred barrels of the finest quality of salt, is also equipped with the latest improved machinery, containing admirable features for the economical manufacture of pure salt. The vacuum evaporating pan which is used here is the best system ever tried for salt manufacture. The pan is a pear-shaped steel boiler tapering upwards. It is about nine feet in diameter on the inside, and stands on four posts, twenty-six feet high, with an extension sixteen inches in diameter reaching downward to the ground. To the bottom of this pan the salt falls as it is formed on the boiler above, and is then elevated to large wooden bins, where it stands to drain for six hours before being taken into the storage-room.

The brine is first pumped from the wells, which are two thousand feet deep, into one of five settling vats, each of which holds about three thousand barrels. Here it  is heated by steam pipes to one hundred and eighty degrees, and then allowed to stand until the temperature is reduced to one hundred and ten degrees. By this process the impurities of the brine settle in the bottom as sediment. The brine is then pumped into the boiler where the steam from the exhaust of the sawmill engines soon brings it to a boiling point. This is facilitated by the vapor as it is formed being drawn over by pumps into a condenser, where coming in contact with cold water it quickly condenses. A vacuum is thus formed in the pan, and the evaporation is greatly facilitated. The boiler has a capacity of five hundred barrels daily. The storage-room has a capacity of fifty thousand barrels, and after the salt stands for some weeks it is "cured" and is ready for packing and shipping.

The Filer mills have a capacity of seventy-five thousand feet of lumber daily, two hundred thousand shingles, lath and headings. In addition they manufacture their own salt barrels, about a hundred thousand annually. Employment is furnished to about one hundred and fifty men at the mills and about sixty men in the woods, and the industry is among the most important in this part of the state. Five hundred and fifty barrels of salt are manufactured daily (working eighteen hours) or about one hundred thousand barrels in a season, the products being handled by the Michigan Salt Company. The firm, in addition to other interests, owns timber in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and on the Sautee River in South Carolina, and they are the owners of the sailing-vessel "Lucia A. Simpson."

The success which has been gained by the enterprises above named is largely due to the ability and energy of the subject of this sketch. Inheriting his father's remarkable business ability, he has constantly added to his possessions and increased his business interests, until he is now one of the wealthy men of Northern Michigan. In the development of the resources of this locality he has materially assisted, and to him not a little of its progress and prosperity may be justly attributed.

In December, 1865, Mr. Filer was united in marriage with Miss Julia A. Filer, of Racine, Wis., and now they make their home in Filer City.

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1895 Portrait And Biographical Record
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