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JIM: Mill Wheels Grindin' - 2 Mike Watsons needed to keep track

Yet another timely enlightenment from JIM. Only yesterday, while having coffee at the Circle R, I learned from renowned Adair County (okay, Russell County claims him, but he was born and lives in Adair County) artist Leo Bryant of his childhood memories of a mill upstream from Young's Mill on Russell Creek, which I had never known existed. Only remnants are left, but Mr. Bryant said he could probably paint it from memory - and, as everyone who has seen his "Star Theater" (Link includes The Columbia Hotel with Campbellsville Stagecoach and other Leo Bryants) print knows, such a work would be a masterpiece. - ED WAGGENER

By Jim

Sue Ingram Sherman's letter: (Jim's Tidbits reminds her of family ties to Columbia mill business set me to thinking (a dangerous proposition at best). For the quarter-century or thereabouts from the closing years of the 19th century through about the end of World War I, it would take two Mike Watsons to write the history of all the mills -- planing, roller, grist, and otherwise - that operated in Adair County; and those two Mikes would need a battalion of scorekeepers to keep track of who was working with whom and who was partners with whom on any given day.

A good case in point is a year in the life of the mill Ms. Sherman referenced:

The Jan. 16, 1907 News announced that Eld. Flavius J. Barger had bought a one-third interest in the Russell Creek Roller Mill, owned by W.G. Burchett and G.B. Smith. The Dec. 5, 1906 News had reported that W.G. Burchett, of Jamestown (late of the Nelson Mill), had removed to Columbia and that "Mr. Burchett recently purchased an interest in the Stapp Roller Mill and is now in charge of the plant." Two weeks later, Burchett and Smith bought Stapp's interest in the operation and "in the future it will be known as the Russell Creek Roller Mill." (Mr. Smith had removed from near Fonthill in Russell County to Columbia in early 1904 and Eld. Barger removed from Esto to Jamestown Street in the spring of 1909.)

Mr. J.S. Stapp had, in turn, bought the mill, "just outside the corporate limits of Columbia," several months previously but according to the October 10, 1906 paper, had just announced it as being ready for business after being "quite a while in getting his Roller Mill equipped and adjusted to his notion..." Seven months earlier, the News had reported "Mr. J.S. Stapp has ordered the machinery for his roller mill, the old Feese site, near town. He hopes to be making flour in a very short time."

Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2012-01-11 08:15:05
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