The Old Mill; Ralph Clement

      The Old Mill

Written June 28, 1967, by Ralph Clement: “The grist mill and a wooden dam were built in 1839. The building was located just west of the bridge on the north side. My first recollection of the property, about 1887, was the wooden dam with its gates which could be lowered or raised as necessary to keep the proper water level in Palmer Lake.  Gates to the wooden flume and millrace could also be opened and closed, and there were the big mill wheels which were run by falling water.

In the 1890’s , the floodgates were opened and Palmer Lake was lowered and the old wooden dam torn out. The new concrete dam was built under the direction of Aura Tomlinson. It had no floodgates but the water just spilled over the top. It was considered a big job well done.

The firs owners of the mill whom I can remember were Mr. Lamberson and Mr. Hollingshead. Mr. Lamberson had been a farmer while Mr. Hollingshead was a miller. Mr. Hollingshead’s two sons, Elwood  and Elsworth, worked in the mill. I can remember farmers with loads of wheat lined up a block long wait8ing for their “grist” to be ground. A bushel of wheat, 60 pounds, would “mill out” about 28 pounds of flour for the farmer, the remainder of the flour and the bran going to the miller for grinding the grist. After the turn of the century, and with the advent of the automobile and trucks, business slackened at the mill.

About that time, Mr. Hollingshead passed away, and Frank Lamberson came into the firm. Also, they hired I. K. Milland of Three Rivers, and experienced miller, and a fine man. Mr. Hollingshead’s interest in the firm was bought by Joseph (Big Joe) Farrand. Mr. Farrand was not active in the business, but kept close watch of his interest. About this time, Frank Lamberson, who had become manager of the mill, secured a contract to sell flour to a large wholesale grocery firm in the state of Maine. This enabled Frank to buy wheat on the market and keep the mill running at capacity. This connection lasted for many years until finally the wholesaler went out of business. By this time, conditions had greatly changed. Farmers no longer brought in their wheat to have it ground. Frank kept the mill running and ground feed.

However, the day of the country grist mill had passed. The mill was closed, and within a few years was wrecked and the site cleaned up.

Frank Lamberson had started working in the mill as bookkeeper when he was about 18 years old, and he soon became manager. He continued in that capacity until the mill was closed some 40 years later. When the mill was closed, he awarded a pension to several and this they drew as long as they lived. Under his management the grist mill had prospered.