Bio: Searls, Andrew (1923)

Contact: Stan.

Surnames: Searls, Palmer, Gustin, Dudley, Deshler

----Source: History of Wood County, Wis. (1923) pages 551-552

Andrew Searls, one of the most successful cranberry growers of CranCranmoor Township, where he started in the business 46 years ago, was born near Toronto, Canada, Jan. 22, 1852, son of Samuel and Hannah (Palmer) Searls. The father, a native of Ontario, but of New England ancestry, was a carpenter and joiner, which trade he followed in Ontario until 1857, when he moved with his family to Waushara County, Wis., and engaged in farming. There he died 40 years later, in 1897. His wife, who was born in St. Johns, New Brunswick, died in Waushara County in 1907. There were nine children in their family, Jacob, Enoch P., Andrew, Melvin, Robert, Herbert, Julia, Lillian and Howard C. Enoch P., Melvin and Julia are deceased. Enoch spent 30 years in Park City, Mont., and Melvin was a resident of Stevens Point. Andrew Searls was five years old when he accompanied his parents to Wis. He was reared on their farm in Waushara County and acquired his education in the district school. After helping them on the farm until 1878 he came with his brother Jacob to Wood County and engaged in the cranberry industry on 80 acres of land which they had bought in 1873. They continued buying land until they had 200 acres, and were associated together until 1906, when the partnership was dissolved. Andrew then took as his partner his son Clarence D. and the business has since been carried on under the style of A. Searls & Son. They now control 640 acres of marsh and have 28 acres in berries, and on this 28-acre tract Mr. Searls has raised as high as 2,900 barrels in a season. He has made a close and careful study of the art of cranberry raising, and is widely recognized as one of the leading men in this line of industry. About 30 years ago he discovered on the marsh a distinct vine which attracted his attention, and he started to propagate it. Through his careful cultivation it became one of the most prolific and popular berries in the county and has now been on the market for many years. It is called the "Searls Jumbo," and has a high value both for marketing and production. It is a large berry of a deep red color, and is much sought after by buyers of fancy fruit, commanding a high market price. As a widely recognized authority on cranberry raising, Mr. Searls' advice has often been sought by other growers and he has written many articles on the subject. His success has been pronounced, not only from the scientific standpoint, but also financially, probably to an extent not excelled by any other grower in the county, and throughout his career he has maintained a high standard of honest dealing and reliability that has enhanced his reputation, increased his success, and supplied a stimulating example to those who come after him. For nine years he served as president of the Wis. Cranberry Growers' Association. In addition to his local business Mr. Searls is heavily interested in several other cranberry industries in the northern part of the state. He is a Free Mason, belonging to the Blue Lodge, Commandery, and the Chapter of the Eastern Star, to which last mentioned branch of the order his wife also belongs. His long residence in Wood County has made him widely known, especially in his own township, of which he was at one time chosen supervisor, and served in that office for ten years through subsequent reelections. He and his family attend and help to support the Congregational Church. Mr. Searls was married in Waushara County, March 12, 1876, to Ella Gustin, daughter of Moses and Diana (Dudley) Gustin. The father was from New York State and the mother from Pennsylvania. Both are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Searls have had three children, all of whom are living, namely: Clarence D., who is associated in business with his father; Maud, formerly a school teacher and now the wife of W. E. Deshler of Billings, Mont.; and Mamie, who is residing at home.



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