The Wheels Kept Turning
by D.D. Cusenbary
In the days when the settlements were new, and men with their families hunting new homes were coming into the county.
A man with vision, realizing the need and value of a mill for the farmer so he could have his wheat and corn ground into flour and meal, was one of the founders and benefactors of Graham, the late E.S. Graham. On February 16, 1874 he deeded 4 acres of land, more or less on Salt Creek seat of Graham to H.C. Vardy and J.G. Tackitt.
The consideration for a mill to be erected on the land in a reasonable time for the grinding of wheat and corn.
The field notes in the deed call for the starting corner, a rock in the middle of the bed of Salt Creek, marked with an X and two slash marks above and below.
An old time burr mill erected on the land and on May 21, 1874, A.B. McLoud became the owner.
On August 24, 1887 E.S. Terrell, Jr. purchased the property and on July 27, 1889 he sold same to the Board of Directors of the Young County Alliance Gin and Mill Association. The directors were: J.J. Murray, W.O. Griffith, Floyd Thomas, Frank W. Knight, G.O. Wood, S.A. Brooks and B.H. Payne.
G.W. Ellis and A.R. McDonald became the owners on August 4, 1892. The late G.W. Ellis is the father of our fellow townsman, Cleve Ellis. Many families seeking new homes were coming into the county, and the new owners decided to put in new and up to-date machinery, the roller mill type.
Trees were cut near the bank of Salt Creek for the large timbers used in the new building. The old time square nails were used. About 20 wagons went to Weatherford for the machinery.
J.T. Rickman installed the new machinery and was the miller for the new plant, and John Bosworth was the engineer. This was the only mill this side of Weatherford and customers came from far and near. Often many wagons were on the mill grounds at the same time waiting for their turn.
The mill owned and fed a large herd of hogs and at one time drove on foot about 200 head to Weatherford. The first day the hogs gave them much trouble but afterwards drove very well.
A chuck wagon and a feed wagon accompanied the herd. The hogs were well fed on the drip and lost very little weight on the drive.
Others who later acquired an interest in the mill were: J.W. Robinson, J.J. Robinson, John Bosworth, C.E. Robinson and J. T. Rickman. The many changes of ownership indicate the struggles and hardships men had in those early days.
About the year 1903 J.S. Carmack, J.E. Dowdle and J.J. Parks known as the Graham Milling Company became the new owners of the plant. On November 13, 1906 they purchased the lots on which is now the present mill site, and soon moved to this site.
Most of the machinery used in the mill located on Salt Creek was moved to the mill at the present site. One sifted and two stands of rollers used in the Salt Creek mill is still being used by the present mill.
On September 15, 1908 the Graham Milling Company was sold to the Graham Mill and Elevator Company, with D.G. Vick, as President.
Later the Graham Mill and Elevator Company was purchased by J.S. Criswell and S.R. Crawford. While they were owners, the capacity increased from time to time from 150 barrels to 400 barrels. In 1934 the plant was purchased by Kay Kimbel and improvement continued. The capacity now being 900 barrels and 200 tons of mixed feed per day. The elevator capacity is 400,000 bushels. This does not include the elevators at Olney, Megargel, Throckmorton, Westover, Goree, Munday and Weinert. The annual payroll being about $250,000.00 and usually the employees number from 50 to 60. J.S. Criswell served as manager under D.G. Vick as president, and during the time he and S.R. Crawford were owners.
Since the plant was sold in 1934 the managers have been W.H. Thompson, F.E. Douglas, who served for 30 years, and Clarence Taylor, the present manager.
In September 1919, W.F. Daniel became the superintendent and head miller, and served in that capacity for 45 years. His son, Howard Daniel is the present night miller, and W.P. (Pete) Stephens is the present superintendent.
Since 1947 most of the flour has been sold in bulk. As the flour is ground it is blown into a bin, then blown into trucks which are equipped for such and carried to the bakery and the biscuit plants. There it is blown into bins, and not handled by hand. Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Guinn who live on the corner of Summitt and Blewett Streets in Graham, are the owners of the land given for the first mill site.
If you pass by their home, in the front yard you will see the 91 year old stone which was used in the grinding of wheat and corn in the original burr mill.
As thoughts go back some 91 years ago, when the little mill had its beginning, and we now look upon its great grown and value to this area of Texas, one can truly say, "The Wheels Kept Turning."
Transcribers note: None of the mills in this article are still standing in Graham. They have all been torn down.