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Lee County Biographies

FRANKLIN KEESE ORVIS
Written & Contributed by Julia Joaquin

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Franklin was born February 9, 1842 at Ferrisburg, Vermont to Abraham Orvis and Deborah Keese Orvis. In 1845 the family moved to New Hampshire and in 1850 the family is found at Somerville, MA.

In 1860 Franklin was at Suspension Bridge, Niagara Co., New York working in his fatherís store. From 1861-1865 he served in the Civil War. He was a First Lieutenant in the 26th U. S. Colored Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Bloody Bridge Johnís Island, South Carolina.

In 1870 he married Susan Appleton Swift in Chicago, Illinois. They moved to Dixon where all three of their children were born. He was in business in Dixon for many years until his death in 1894.

He had formed a company called F.K. Orvis and Co that was in the agricultural implement trade in Chicago. In 1869 Franklinís company bought the Dixon Plow Works from W. M. Todd and H. D. Dement. The company moved to Dixon.

In 1877 the Orvis Manufacturing Company was organized and absorbed the other company. In 1879 he sold the business. The Orvis Plow Company was in business in Dixon until it was moved to Racine, WI in 1885.

Franklin and Susan maintained the Nachusa House in Dixon. After his death Susan continued to operate the Hotel until 1899 when she rented the business to J. H. Shafer.

Their children, all born in Dixon, were: Julia Swift Orvis, a Professor of History at Wellesley College in MA; Gertrude an educator who lived in Hawaii and Dewitt Swift Orvis who moved to Seattle, Washington in the early 1900ís.

See the "Obituary" section for more on Franklin Orvis

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