Mills & Trading Points

Notwithstanding the fact that some of the early settlers were energetic millwrights, who employed all their energy and what means they possessed, in erecting mills at a few of the many favorite mill sites which abound in the county, yet going to mill in those days, when there were no roads, no bridges, no ferry boats, and scarcely any conveniences for traveling, was no small task, where so many rivers and treacherous streams were to be crossed, and such a trip was often attended with great danger to the traveler when these streams were swollen beyond their banks. But even under these circumstances, some of the more adventurous and more ingenious ones, in case of emergency, found the ways and means by which to cross the swollen stream, and succeed in making the trip. At other times again, all attempts failed them, and they were compelled to remain at home until the waters subsided, and depend on the  enerosity of their fortunate neighbors. Some stories are related with regard to the danger, perils and hardships of forced travel to mills, and for provisions, which remind one of forced marches in military campaigns, and when we hear of the heroic and daring conduct of the hardy pioneers in procuring bread for their loved ones, we think that here were heroes more valiant than any of the renowned soldiers of ancient or modern times. During the first two years, and perhaps not until some time afterward, there was not a public highway established and worked on which they could travel; and as the settlers were generally far apart, and mills and trading points were at great distances, going from place to place was not only very tedious, but attended sometimes with great danger. Not a railroad had yet entered the State, and there was scarcely a thought in the minds of the people here of such a thing ever reaching the wild West; and, if thought of, people had no conception of what a revolution a railroad and telegraph line through the county would cause in its progress. Then there was no railroad in the United States, not a mile of track on the continent; while now there are over 100,000 miles of railroad extending their trunks and branches in every direction over our land. Supplies in those days were obtained at Hannibal. Mail was carried by horses and wagon transportation, and telegraph dispatches were transmitted by the memory and lips of emigrants coming in or stranger; passing through. The first mill was built in the county in 1827, and was known as Benj. Bradley’s mill. At first the mill only ground corn, which had to be sifted after it was ground, as there were no bolts in the mill. There was only one run of buhrs, which, as well as the mill irons, were brought from St. Louis. They were shipped up the Missouri river. The mill cost about $50. The mill had no gearing, the buhrs being located over the wheel, and running with the same velocity as the wheel. It was a frame mill, one story high, and had a capacity of 25 bushels a day. People came from far and near, attracted by the reports of the completion of the mill, with their grists, so that, for days before it was ready for work, the creek bottom was dotted over with hungry and patient men, waiting until it was ready to do their work, so that they might return with their meal and flour to supply their families, and those of their neighbors, thus enduring the hardships of camp life in those early days in order that they might be able to secure the simple necessaries of life, devoid of all luxuries. Bradley’s mill was located about two miles north-east of Florida.