Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Other Mill on Mill Street

A grist mill for grinding grain was also constructed in Naper’s Settlement. It was built soon after the saw mill but apparently there was some serious concern as to how they were to create such a thing since they had no mill stones for grinding.

Robert Nelson Murray, who was a teenager at the time, tells us that the grist mill was built due to the efforts of Christopher Paine. Paine, who was homesteading in the area before the Naper group arrived, was apparently a prairie-style MacGyver since “To him the whole settlement looked for devising ways and means to accomplish ends.”

“He laid the case before Mr. Paine. He scratched his head and ‘his jaws wagged with increased rapidity while he kept up an incessant expectoration,’ (says Mr. Murray), and exclaimed ‘By Jinks, I can
make them’(the stones. He then selected two good bowlders from the grove, and hammered and pecked on them till he had fashioned them
into upper and nether mill stones.”

The mill was used communally by all the settlers and was powered not by the river but by each farmer’s oxen, the same ones they used to pull the wagon of wheat or corn to the mill.

What happened to Christopher Paine’s mill stones is unknown, but if you go to Pioneer Park on Washington Streets, you’ll find Bailey Hobson’s stones from his grist mill which was just downriver.

Eventually both grist mills as well as the saw mill ceased operation. The mill pond receded and the DuPage River was allowed to flow naturally again. Its major application now is to support ducks and the occasional canoe!

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