It is not often that one finds in the rural districts of the country a man of the genius and ability of the subject of this article. Mr. Ellis is not only an agriculturist, but he is a mechanic and a first class millwright, while also he holds the distinction of being one of the inventors of much improved mill machinery. At present the family home is two and one half miles west from Summit on the farm, while the mill that Mr. Ellis owns is near Summit. With the help of his son Raymond, who is also a clever millman. Mr. Ellis built not only the mill, but also the entire machinery in it. This was in 1901 and the mill is a fifty barrel capacity. It is a model plant of the northwest. The rolls are different from others and his own invention, while the bolter and sifter he constructed from models which he evolved from his own brain. The mill does most excellent work and is a triumph of the ability and skill of our subject.

Pitts Ellis was born in Posey County, Indiana, on January 23, 1852, being the son of Ebenezer and Theodosia (Phillips) Ellis, natives of Cayuga County. New York. When our subject was six, the family went to Waukasha County, Wisconsin, where the father did a general merchandise and milling business. Pitts was educated there in the high school and at the age of nineteen went to teaching.

It was 1872 that he went to Nebraska, where he taught until 1881; he then taught in Denver for two years. In 1883 he went to Arkansas City, Arkansas, and built his first mill. Sixteen years were spent in operating it and then Mr. Ellis came to Nez Perces County and built the first flour mill on the reservation. He traded it for his present place and later the mill burned. Then the mill we first mentioned was built and this is being operated now. Mr. Ellis also handles considerable grain from his farm, raises good graded Poland China hogs and Jersey cows.

On July 7, 1880, Mr. Ellis married Miss Olive, daughter of William and Lenora (Hubbard) Rose, natives of New York. Mrs. Ellis was born in Sauk County, Wisconsin, and was a pupil of Mr. Ellis in Vernon County. Her family went to Iowa and there her wedding occurred. She has one sister and four brothers: Henry, Hubert. Daniel, George, Laura, wife of W. A. Simmons, living in Denver, Colorado. The others live in Colorado, except George, who is a Congregational minister in Idaho. Mrs. Ellis is now candidate on the Prohibition ticket for state superintendent of public instruction and is active in W. C. T. L T. circles. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis have two children: Raymond and Harold, both at home. Mr. Ellis is justice of the peace, elected on the Democratic ticket in 1900, running ahead of his ticket. Mrs. Ellis’ father, her brother and three brothers-in-law were all in the Civil War and came through many years of service without a wound. Mr. Ellis has one brother and four sisters: Edwin; Julia, wife of John H. Mocket, who was in Company K, Twenty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteers; Sophronia, wife of Richard Mocket. who was in the Forty-third Wisconsin Volunteers; Hattie, wife of Andrew W. Dean; Alary, wife of Frank Clark, who served four years in the Civil war, one of which was in Andersonville prison.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903