"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


O'Melia, James, superintendent of the Oneida County Poor Farm, and who was one of the early lumbermen in this section, was born in the Province of Quebec, Canada, July 9, 1856, son of Patrick and Sarah (JOYCE) O'MELIA. The parents were natives of Ireland, from which country they emigrated to Quebec in 1840, settling on a farm. There Patrick O'MELIA died in 1890, and his wife survived him but a short time, passing away in the following year. They had seven children, John, Anthony, Thomas, Mary, Sarah, Patrick and James, of whom the three first mentioned are now deceased. Of the survivors, Mary is now Mrs. Patrick CAIN, residing in Canada, and Sarah the wife of Patrick DOLAN of that province, where Patrick is also living. James O'MELIA acquired his education in the common schools. At an early age he began to work in the woods as a teamster in logging camps, and later he was engaged in other branches of work connected with the same industry. In the fall of 1876, being still a single man, he went to Reed City, Mich., and entered the employ of a lumber company there, working in the woods that winter and as a foreman of river work in the spring of 1877. After that he logged in Michigan for F. S. ROBBINS, and later took logging contracts, receiving $1.50 per thousand feet for moving the logs. In 1881 he located in Chase, Mich., where for eight years or so he was in the employ of the F. B. Bouten Lumber Co. It was in the spring of 1889 that Mr. O'MELIA came to Oneida County, Wis., settling at what is now Hazelhurst, where he was employed by the Yawkey-Lea Lumber Co. as superintendent of logging crews. Later Mr. LEA sold his interests in the company, which was subsequently known as the Yawkey Lumber Co., and still later as the Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Co., in which last mentioned concern Mr. O'MELIA has large interests. This company built the village of Hazelhurst, and Mr. O'MELIA served as a side supervisor until 1912, in which year the company discontinued operations there. They carried on business on an extensive scale, building their own railroads through the woods, and having 13 engines and 400 cars, with which they were able to move 80,000,000 feet of logs each year; each year also they built about 30 miles of new roadbed. There being no high school in Hazelhurst, Mr. O'MELIA moved his family to Rhinelander in 1904, but he remained with the lumber company until 1912. During the years 1913 and 1914 he lived retired. On Jan. 1, 1915, he was appointed superintendent of the Poor Farm, in which position he has since remained, his service having proved highly satisfactory to the people of the county. Since coming to Oneida County he has made many friends and is a very popular citizen. He is a member of the Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Foresters and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Mr. O'MELIA was married Nov. 27, 1883, in Canada, to Anna CLARK, daughter of Martin and Margaret (BOYLE) CLARK, both of whom died in Canada. Mrs. O'MELIA herself passed away Sept. 29, 1920. She and her husband had four children, namely: James H., now president of the J. H. O'Melia Lumber Co., of Rhinelander, and a vice president of the Oneida National Bank; Albert J., a prominent attorney at Rhinelander who took a very active part in patriotic work during the recent great war; Margaret, wife of A. J. KETH of Rhinelander, she and her husband residing with Mr. O'MELIA; and Anna, now Mrs. William J. SULLIVAN of Minneapolis. Mr. O'MELIA owns a fine residence at No. 21, North Baird Street, Rhinelander.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 233-234 (with picture); History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others; 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.

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