The Harland Savage, Sr. Years
The Skill of the Millwright, Handed Down 1948 to Present
Harland was born June 27, 1922 in Northumberland, New Hampshire, the youngest of eleven children of Herman and Alice Cummings Savage. These families had settled in the northern part of New Hampshire over 300 years ago as English, and later, Irish immigrants. Securely situated in the White Mountain range, the Savages tended and owned one of the largest dairy farms in Coos County.
Harland grew up on the family farm, but as a young adult, he decided he "probably didn't like farm work" and soon took on employment at the Concord Public Market where he met his future wife, Thelma Gray.
Returning to Wilton, New Hampshire after serving in the 861st Aviation Engineers Battalion, Harland found part time and then full time employment at Whitney Frye's Mill. Through his hard work and abilities, Harland soon won the regard and respect of his boss, and within a year he was promoted to General Manager. For the next ten years, Whitney taught Harland the skills of millwrighting.
Not learned from textbooks or schools, "millwrighting" is the sum total of skills, knowledge, hands-on experience, wisdom, and traditions passed on from master to apprentice, generation to generation.
In Daniel Cragin's time, from the mid-1800's until the turn of the century, the millwright, often self-taught, was the jack-of-all-trades. Versatility, natural ability, an intuitive mind, along with a diversity of technical skills were needed to successfully operate and manage a business such as Frye's Mill. Understanding the power technology; hydromechanical and hydroelectric, gas and steam energy, as well as building maintenance, equipment repair, accounting, marketing, and financial savvy were all critical components of being the millwright
Since the early 1980's, Harland's son, Harley, and his wife, Pam Porter Savage have carried on the 'stewardship' of the Mill. Their interest in antiques and preservation, combined with their love of the Mill, led them to pursue a longer-lasting recognition and protection for this landmark of our heritage. In the spring of 1982, due to their efforts, Frye's Measure Mill was nominated and accepted to the National Register of Historic Places.