Franklin co. IAGenWeb

The Mills of Franklin county

~compiled by by S. Ferrall for Franklin co. IAGenWeb


Beed and Gillett's Mill

Late in the fall of 1857, George Beed and Chauncy Gillett entered into partnership for the erection and operation of a grist mill. They erected a large stone building about twenty rods west of the northeast corner of the [Hampton] town plat. They bought an engine and boiler of Jesse R. Dodd, at Oakland, and fitted up a saw-mill, equipped with a circular saw, giving it a capacity of sawing over 2,000 feet per day. Flouring machinery was also purchased and put in, the building being arranged for three run of stone. The saw-mill was set up in a shed. It was started in 1859 or 1860. But wheat was only thirty cents per bushel, flour proportionately low, wood $2.50 per cord, and nothing to do. The consequence was that the entire earnings of the mill would not keep it in fuel, and the owners concluded to try water power. Accordingly they dug a ditch about half a mile long, from Squaw creek, on the north side, through J. H. Van Nuy's farm, down to the mill, which was to be a race to carry the water. It ran along the edge of the bluff below the residence of James Beed, then near where A. Kinney now lives, and so on down to the mill. They went so far as to plank nearly half of the ditch, when they found that they had failed in one very important particular, and that was to have the ditch cut so that the water would run through it. Upon making this discovery they took out the plank and sold them for bridge timber, George Beed, at about the same time, selling his interest in the business to Gillett for $50 The mill was run, however, for sometime afterward, and finally in 1863, when Mr. Gillett died, the property was settled in probate by Judge North, and most of the machinery sold to W. R. Jamison, of Union Ridge, Butler county. The building finally went to pieces, although the stone has been utilized for other purposes.
~History of Franklin County, 1883, pg 388

Beed's Mill

About three miles north of Hampton, in Franklin County, is Beed's Lake, a spring fed body of water which was dammed up at an early date for the development of water power. A sawmill was built there as early as 1857, and two years later a flour mill was erected. In 1864 William G. Beed purchased the mill, enlarged it, and operated it for many years as Beed's Mill. On the margin of the lake—now a State Preserve—may still be seen the stone foundation of this old landmark, and a substantial carved oak marker indicates the former site of Beed's Mill.
~Beed's Mill excerpt used with the permission of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Originally published in Iowa, Land of Many Mills, by Jacob Swisher; copyright State Historical Society of Iowa, 1940

See also, Franklin Mills, below

Franklin Mills

In 1859, was erected the Franklin Mills, an imposing structure, located on section 20, Mott township, an enterprise which has always been a credit to the county. The building was 36x36 feet in size, one story high, and contained one run of stone, which was sufficient for the work of those early days. The grists were often brought to the mills on horse back, but more frequently by ox teams. The reputation made by the mill in those days has never diminished, but has steadily gained. The mill was erected by T. K. Hansburg at a cost of $4,000. In 1864 the property was purchased by William G. Beed, who, in 1870, enlarged it to a two story building with an addition, adding an elevator 20x36 feet. In 1882, the mill was changed to the roller system, equipped with three run of buhrs and twelve sets of rollers. Mr. Beed has recently added another elevator, 28x50 feet and a warehouse 24x50 feet. In 1883 these mills were employing eight men and had a capacity of 150 barrels per day.
~History of Franklin County, 1883, pg 388-389

Fretoe's Sawmill

Soon after the county seat was located at Hampton, A. Fretoe came from Michigan bringing a new steam saw-mill. George Ryan gave him five acres of land, lying just east and adjoining the northeast corner of the town plat. The mill was a good one, and was hailed by the entire county as a valuable acquisition. It was equipped with a circular saw, and had a capacity of sawing between 2,000 and 3,000 feet of lumber per day. Fretoe ran it for about one year, but saw it would not pay, and the mill was finally moved to Horse Neck, in Butler county.
~History of Franklin County, 1883, pg 387-388


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