Livingston County Pioneer Mills
Compiled by Carolyn Leffler

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From: Historical Briefs of Livingston County for Livingston County History Class, 1990.  [note: The original article has been rearranged to place the mills in alphabetical order.]

Bargdoll's Mill -- About 1852, Amos Bargdoll returned to Chillicothe from the gold fields of California and purchased a steam saw mill, brought the first engine to the town and continued to be thus occupied for four years or until losing health.

City Mills/Milbank Mills -- George Milbank, the founder of the City Mills, Chillicothe, Mo. was born July 15, 1833, in Essex, England. He came to this country when still a young man. In 1867 he came to Chillicothe and built the City Mill. As for the other mills of the county, they were operated as "custom mills." The farmer brought his wheat to the mill and the miller took his toll [sic] for the grinding. George Milbank had the foresight to realize that the operation of a "merchant mill" would mean almost an unlimited amount of business for his mill and it also would be a method that would make it possible for the farmers of his trade territory to not only grow the wheat that they would need for their own family consumption, but any extra wheat that they could produce could be converted into cash.

Cox's Mill -- Established prior to 1840 on Medicine Creek by John Cox, Cox's Mill did a thriving business both as a flour mill and a saw mill. Joseph Slagle came to Livingston County in 1839 and for the first four years after his arrival he sold goods at Cox's Mill. In 1843 he purchased the mill and continued its operation, changing its name to Slagle's Mill. The power for this mill was furnished by a dam built across Medicine Creek. The dam was constructed of oak timbers on a rock foundation. The building which housed the wheel was a 3-story affair and soft pine lumber was used in its construction.

Graham's Mill -- In 1866 James Graham came to Livingston County and in connection with his father put up what became known as Graham's Mill, being first called Grand River Mills, which included half interest in the mill in Chillicothe known as Graham and Son's Mill. The mills at first had an improved stone system, but in 1883 the full roller process was introduced [sic], which enabled their production to increased from 75 barrels of flour daily to 150 barrels daily. Graham's Mill was located near the covered bridge over the-East Grand River (later known as Thompson River) and operated for many years, being torn down about 1916.

Todd's Mill -- Mr. Samuel E Todd cane to Livingston County area as early as 1831. He built a horse mill at the present-day site of Utica in 1833 or 34, and in 1836 he installed a water mill on the banks of the West Grand river. The latter was known as a "corn-cracker", and in a year or town a sawing attachment was put in. It is said the first boards of the county were sawed here.

Whitney's Mill -- Joshua Whitney, a native of Massachusetts and a miller by trade, came to the Livingston County area about 1829, choosing the site for his mill in the area known today as the small town of Dawn in the southwest portion of the county. It was erected on the banks of shoal Creek.

Wilkerson's Mill -- The History of Caldwell & Livingston County, 1886, states that Brannock Wilkerson put up a horse mill about two years following Samuel Todd's mill.

Brief mention was found relating to other mills: John Gillaspy's Mill was built on East Grand River, as was a McGee's Mill. About 1860 John Sidner operated a mill in Springhill, "sawing lumber and grinding grain." An early horse mill was that of James Black in Jackson Township. The Bedford Mill, which was both a saw mill and grist mill, was destroyed by the 1880 cyclone.