Madison County, Iowa

EARLY MADISON COUNTY MILLS

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By H. A. Mueller

This information was taken from the book, The History of Madison County, Iowa, Herman August Mueller, 1915, pages 150–55. — Judy Wight Branson

 

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Afton Bridge Mill

What is known as the Afton Bridge mill was built in 1850 by J. T. Bertholf. It was a grist mill. Bertholf sold it to Joseph Wright, who added to the industry a sawmill. This property was located on the section line between sections 13 and 14, Lincoln Township, and just north of the present Afton bridge. The sawmill was further down the river along a bayou, through which the mill race ran. Mr. Tomlinson bought it later of Mr. Wright and operated it for some time.

Andrew Bertholf Mill

Andrew H. Bertholf in 1854 built a sash sawmill, operated by water power, just below the present Linsey Bertholf bridge and near the center of section 17, Lincoln Township. This was run a few years; then the machinery was removed in 1866 and installed in the James Bertholf mill further down the river.

Backbone Mill

About the year 1859, John Harmon built what has since been known as the Backbone mill. It was an “up and down” affair, and got its power from the river by tunneling a passage for the stream through the rock of the “backbone” to the wheel. Harmon sold to W. L. Wilkin and R. D. Vermillion in 1867, who put in a grist mill; G. F. Kleatsch worked for them. This mill was run for several years by various owners until 1882, when Henry Evans bought it and operated it for some time. The old mill has been lying idle the last fifteen years or more. In the meantime part of the structure was torn down, but some of it is still standing.

Barker Mill

About 1853, or 1855, Samuel Barker built a sawmill on Grand River, on section 17, Grand River Township, which afterwards became known as Barker ís mill. It was operated about ten years, part of this time by Dr. J. H. Mack. It then stood idle until about 1860, when it became practically a ruin. About 1875 George Everett put up a small building, constructed a wooden wheel and in this primitive mill ground corn and chop feed. In 1877, Evan Doty and Captain Barker, son of Samuel Barker , bought the property, put in a thirty-six inch Leffler turbine wheel and erected a new building. Here quite a milling business was conducted by the persons just named until 1889, when Alvin Griswold purchased the mill and in 1892 attached a circular saw and manufactured lumber. This mill was torn down a few years ago, and was the last water power mill run in Madison County.

Drake Ford Mill

The Brinson mill at Drake Ford was a water power mill, built in 1849, by David Hagge. He boarded with Absolom Thornburg and took down with the smallpox while building it, giving the disease to all the family, accept one son, George. This was the first circular sawmill in the county and stood east of Drake Ford bridge on section 15 east of the house now owned by J. E. Addy in Lincoln Township. Mr. Hagge sold to Craig Gaines and Mike Danner in 1851. Later Joseph Brinson, father of William Brinson, of Winterset, purchased it and operated the mill until the dam washed out. Brinson then sold the property to John Reed, who rebuilt the mill a short distance above and across Middle River, put in burrs and ground both wheat and corn, besides sawing lumber. The dam washed out in 1864, which induced Reed to sell the machinery; the building was torn down and moved away.

Hartman Mill

Hartman & Downs mill, west of Hanley, was begun in the year 1851 as an “up and down” affair, completed in 1853 and operated until some time during the sixties, when Dr. William Anderson, father of H. P. and E. K. Anderson, and an old practicing physician, bought, controlled and operated it until about 1869, at which time Elijah Collins bought a half interest in the enterprise. During the summer of 1871 the firm of Anderson& Collins rebuilt and improved the mill and was ready for operations in 1872, when M. I. Bean and E. Collins managed the business. In 1873, M. I. Bean purchased Collins’s interset and continued to run the mill until 1876, when high water took out the dam. The property was then sold to R. A. Howard and his father, who built a new dam, but the floods again came and washed out the improvements, so the mill was abandoned in 1877. The site of the Hartman & Downs mill is a short distance west from Clanton Creek, and east of Bridgeport schoolhouse.

Hiatt & Brown Mill

The Hiatt & Brown mill in Walnut Township, was constructed in the fall of 1852 by Aaron Hiatt and B. F. Brown. It was a sawmill, operated by waterpower, and stood on Clanton Creek, in section 11, about a half mile southeast of East Peru. The mill was completed in the summer of 1853 and was put together by F. S. J. Garroutte, of Winterset, later of Adel. All was in running order by the spring of 1854, when the wheel was found deficient, so a Johnston wheel was put in. This mill was owned and operated by Hiatt & Brown until about 1856, when Aaron Hiatt sold his interest to Elijah Hiatt, late of Truro, and father of Surveyor E. E. Hiatt. About 1860 Hiatt sold his interest to John Steel and later bought B. F. Brown’s interest, which he sold to Benjamin Reed about the close of the war. About the year 1868 the mill was washed away by high waters.

Hockenberry Mill

The Hockenberry mill was an “up and down” waterpower sawmill and was built in 1855, in section 14, Webster Township, by M. C. Hockenberry and Paul Denning, but was not completed until 1856. The builders operated it up to the beginning of the Civil war, when Hockenberry sold his interest to Paul Denning, who in turn sold it to Edward M. Roseman in 1870. Mr. Roseman operated the mill a few years and then lost it by floods.

James Bertholf Mill

There was an “up and down” sawmill built in 1866 by James Bertholf. It stood on the west side of Middle River, on the section line of sections 16 and 21, Lincoln Township. The machinery was brought from Andrew Bertholf ’s mill further up the river. Joseph Brinson bought the property in 1869, operated it a few years and then sold it to Linsey Macumber, who ran it for three years and sold to Alex Macumber in 1872, who continued to operate it one year. The building washed away in the floods of 1876 while owned by D. Philbrick.

Kidd Brothers Mill

An item appears in the November 16, 1871 edition of the Winterset Madisonian stating that "The Kidd Brothers are doing a good business at their steam sawmill, near the Middle River Bridge, in this township (Crawford), all bills of lumber filled on short notice." (Information transcribed by County Coordinator - KT)

Lick Skillet Mill

An item appears in the August 24, 1871 edition of the Winterset Madisonian stating that the steam sawmill known as the "Lick Skillet Mill" located in Grand River Township had suspended operation pending a move to Afton. No further details are provided. (Information transcribed by County Coordinator - KT)

Phipps Mill

What was known as the Phipps mill was built in 1866 by James Phipps , further up Clanton Creek, on section 27, on land now owned by S. T. Johnston. The mill was completed in 1867 and subsequently Phipps sold half of his interest to Isaac Allen and the balance to William Allcock later. About 1873 the new firm sold to R. M. J. Collins, who was proprietor of the mill until 1876, when the high waters destroyed it.

Webster Mill

Charles Friend began the construction of a sawmill in 1854, M. C. Hockenberry doing the construction work. It was completed by B. F. McAfferty and Fred Mason, who had it in operation in 1856. They ran the mill about three years, when Otho Davis got possession, and added a set of burrs and ground corn. Then in turn, as millers, came a Mr. Hoadley, Asbury Evans (August, 1871), Carl Sampson, George McVey, Rufus Ullery, Mr. Hohn, and finally Mr. Rogges. No sawing had been done for thirty years, and probably no grinding for fifteen years. About 1903, or 1904, the building was still standing on the bank of Middle River, south of Webster, and about a quarter of a mile west of the public road running south of town. It was at that time decaying rapidly and the river had washed around the south end of the dam, leaving the mill on dry land. The machinery, however, was still in the building and all it needed, so it seemed, was repairing. This was the beginning of the last chapter in the history of the old Webster mill.

 

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This page was created on July 23, 2004.
This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 13:16:41 CDT .