Last week I had the absolute privilege of spending the day with family friends. I love learning stories about family and the history of the area where we were from. First hand accounts are always the best, but it is getting harder to find people who can give first hand accounts. So it was such a treat to be able to drive the old country roads and hear wonderful stories.
For a long time I had been curious about the mill of my great great grand parents. Different accounts had left me unsure about where it was. I had found a picture of the mill at the Linn Creek Museum, but it had shared little information about it except it was on the Little Niangua River. Now I have a clear picture of where it was and it was a place I had been so many times before.
Our first tour was my friends family farm, a place they had not visited for about thirty years. So fun to share in the joy and celebration of returning to their childhood home. New houses sprinkled the landscape. Many places that had once been cleared and beautiful landscape was now covered in brush and weeds. We also checked out the old business section of Climax. We drove down by the spring and old motel. Then Ellsworth told us where each business stood in the towns early days. There was a theater, restaurant, dress shop, general store, garage, bank, feed store and more. It was a busy little town.
Our next stop was the mill. We stopped on the bridge on the Little Niangua between Climax Springs and Macks Creek. Pointing off to the right Ellsworth began to share where the big mill had stood. A ridge of big rocks remained to show where the big wheel had powered the mill. You can see the rocks in the picture above. As I stood there staring at the scene I could see in my minds eye the big mill sitting there. The picture from the museum perfectly matched the landscape. My quest to find the location of the mill was finally over.
The Old Mill was powered by an Undershot wheel. It was built on the banks of the fast flowing Little Niangua. When Great Great Grandpa opened the water-gate, the water would rush under the shell and turn the wheel. The wheel had a long shaft that ran through the center of the wheel into the mill which turned the big gears on the stone grinder. Mills were an important part of life back then. There were mills everywhere. The mill was the social center for farmers. Everyone had to have their wheat and corn ground.
It was so exciting to see where the old mill stood. And the amazing part is I had been there so many times before. As a child we had baptismal services there. We would come there with family and friends and go swimming. Before John and I were married we had taken a float trip down the Little Niangua starting at that spot. And just a few years ago our family had planned a picnic and swim party for our kids and grandkids so they could experience the fun of swimming in the creek. How amazing. All the while we were splashing and playing in the front yard of our great great grandparents farm. Love, love, love!