Miles Mills, a community started on the South Branch of French Creek in Union Township, Erie County, was named after William Miles. It is located about 20 miles southeast of Erie, PA.

In 1785, David Watts, William Miles, and crew set out to survey the 10th Donation District. The land was the last to be surveyed north of Franklin, PA, along the Erie triangle to the New York State line. It was land with virgin timber, swamps, and general paths made by the Indians in the region.

When the District was surveyed, this took approximately two years to complete, David Watts, William Miles brother-in-law, returned to Carlisle, PA to become a well established lawyer. When the land came up for sale, Watts and another lawyer started the Watts, Scott, & Company. This was a small land development company and made William Miles their agent. They bought up the land now know as Union Township and one-half of Amity Township.

By 1796, William Miles was engaged in land surveying, building, and stocking a trading post at the forks of French Creek. This was the start of Wattsburg, named after William Miles’ in-laws, the Watts.

William Miles soon came to this area and bought up a large portion of land and picked out a place along French Creek for a home for his family and a much needed sawmill. In 1800 a sawmill was in the plans to be built. The need was so great since the task of any building or framing all had to be done by hand and with hand tools. Lumber to be cut, stumps to be removed, races to be dug, and a dam built plus our wild winters with ice on the creek, the sawmill was started.

In 1801, Abel Thompson and family, which consisted of five sons, bought 40 acres from William Miles. He set up a blacksmith shop within a half a mile of the mill site. The fact that the family was also stone cutters enabled them to make the grinders for the new mill.

Now a sawmill and grist mill (which was located on Main Street and Hogan’s Alley) was ready to meet the needs of the new settlers that would come to help make Union City “The Chair Center of the World” at one time.

Names of some of the factories and lumber mills that made this once possible are:

  • Union City Chair Co.
  • Cheney Chair Works – Standard Chair Co. – Ethan Allen
  • Enterprise Chair Works
  • Blanchard & Hanson Furniture Co.
  • Novelty Wood Works
  • Globe Furniture
  • Keystone Chair Works
  • Eastman Furniture Co.
  • Shreve Furniture Co.

List of Union City History Authors: