Old Mills, Barry Co., MO

Part 1


Part Two - Old Mills

During the mid-1800s to early 1900s, Missouri's Grist mills not only produced much needed flour but they also brought farm families together for a few days of fun and camaraderie. As they waited to have grain ground, farmers and their families camped around the mill sometimes for several days. The men would always gather in groups to swap hunting and crop stories, and the women busied themselves with cooking and the watching of children. The youngsters were filled with happiness as they romped across the open camp area with their cousins and friends. There would sometimes be dances, bonfires, and as well as story telling and merriment of all sorts.

The mills began to shut down as railroads improved their transportation of goods. In Barry Co., MO, the Civil War shut down a lot of the old mills but most were built back as soon as the war was over. It hurt the small town mill owners, because no stores no longer needed to rely on the local mills to stock their shelves. Sometimes the bigger mills could produce larger quantities of goods and send items by rail across the country cheaper than goods could be produced at home. Many mills burned during the Civil War and were never rebuilt. And some were destroyed by vandals or washed away in floods.

Carding Mill at Roaring River - From the photo and research files of Darla Marbut

On January 17, 1894, I. B. Preston and his wife Edith bought one half interest in the 280 acre tract of land that included the saw mill, grist mill and woolen mill.

An earlier mill had been destroyed during the Civil War. When either the Federal (Union) soldiers came into a community they would take over the mill in order to feed the troops. When they left they would destroy it so the Southern or Confederate soldiers couldn't use it.

Since Barry Co., MO was held by both armies at one time, most of the mills were destroyed by one or the other of these armies. And some people think that the bushwhackers may have even destroyed some of them, too. The photo is of the mill built after the war about 1866. There was a post office in the mill area at Roaring River first known was Trim's Mountain Cove and later as Ebro.

From the photo files of Gary Ball. This is a carding mill and what it looks like when it is in operation.

Then after the carding there was spinning wheel work to be done.


The weaving was then done on a loom. Some looms were for the making of rugs and others were for the weaving of wool. This pictured loom may be somewhat like the kind that was used for the making of fabrics.

If a person didn't have access to a loom, he or she would take the spun yarn to a weaver to have it turned into fabric.

The yarn was tied to one of the spokes of a wheel like device, which was called a weasel. The wheel on the weasel was turned and used as a measuring device. Inside was a gear with a ratchet that "clicked" with every full circuit (2 yards) of the wheel. After a certain number of circuits there would be a loud pop, which would be the signal that the correct length of yarn had been measured out, thus came the saying of "Pop goes the Weasel". Which came first the song or the furniture item? I have no idea and so I will leave that debate to the historians.

Milo Russell Used the Mills

Milo Russell lived in the Roaring River area in Barry Co., MO. Darla Marbut's research papers indicate that Milo Russell used the mills in the Roaring River area. And that the debts at the time of his death included a bill for wool carding. Debts owed to William A. Lewis and Mary Lewis, formerly Mary Easley $24.15, witness Edward Easley; and W. McClure and Grime Proprietors: $53.71 bill dated May 18, 1873 for wool carding, meal, flour and loose leaf tobacco.

There was also a statement of what Milo had paid on his account:

Worked on repair of steps at the mill 1 1/2 days ... $1.87
200 lbs of beef ... 9.00
15 lbs pork ... .50
Hauling flour ... 4.37
Worked for W. E. Grime ... 4.80
Making Allen McClure's Coffin ... 5.00
Fixed ceiling room at the mill ... 1.87
Hauling rails for W. E. Grime ... 3.00
By Cash ... 10.00
Hauling flour ... 5.20
Total ... $45.61

Roaring River water power has carded wool, ground grain and sawed huge logs. The mill built after the Civil War was put together without nails, nor steel, nor drills. It was destroyed by fire, after it was remodeled into a hotel.

Geneva Arnold is the owner of the photo and the file is from the research papers of Darla Marbut.

From Darla Marbut's Notes from Goodspeed's History of Southwest Missouri, pub 1888: The Seventh Missouri Cavalry who were stationed at Cassville in 1862 learned there was a small Confederate (South) force staying at Roaring River. Lt. Gibson and 10 men were ordered out to find them. The went as far as Easley's Ford on White River where they found 4 of them in Easley's house. One was killed, one captured with two tents, three saddles, three horses and two mules captured. William McMurtry, the captured man, belonged to Dixon's Company of "Provos" whose duty was to steal property.

Roaring River Falls in 1909

This is the way the falls looked before the CCC built several buildings and did some repairs in the 1930s and also before Roaring River area became Roaring River State Park.


This mill was located one mile west of Seligman on the upper arm of Big Sugar Creek and water was furnished by a spring-fed stream. The mill was in operation when Christian E. Fawver, John Wesley Weston and R. L. Doss took possession of it in about 1882. Since it was the new owners that installed a steam engine, it is well to assume that it had been a waterwheel powered mill originally.

"After the country began to get more settlers, the father built a mill down on Sugar Creek, 1 1/2 miles west of Seligman, where people could bring their wheat and corn to have it ground. This was called a grist mill because the people who brought grain to have it ground, paid for the grinding with more grain which they gave to the miller. The mill was torn down a few years ago and at that time was still a sturdy building due to the way it was built. It was run by a steam engine with wood cut from the land around it used for fuel. During the first World War, this little mill ground out a car load of flour for the government. The flour was sent to our army overseas."

"Flour milled at the Fawver Mill sold as 'Lily white Four.' "

"One of the later mill operators was Mr. Tom Hulsey. He continued to reside in the house in the tranquil valley after the mill closed operations in the late 1930's. Mr. Hulsey served as justice of the peace for several years and in such capacity, performed marriage ceremonies for lots of young people, at the Fawver Mill place."

"The area around the old mill has been the scene of many picnic outing for families. The picturesque hills surrounding a small valley with a sparkling stream afforded some swimming, plenty of wading, and of course some watercress for the sandwiches in the picnic basket. There were trails leading off for interesting hikes, and for the most venturesome, one trail led to a cave that provided a test of your nerves. Today it is privately owned. The old mill was torn down about 1954, and the old house was destroyed by fire.
" Ref: Seligman Book, Page 153.



The mill is gone now but you can see where it was in Pioneer, MO. It was located on Highway T, which is off Highway 86 in Northern Barry Co., MO. The little village of Pioneer was once a small trading center but now there are only a few houses that remain. Darla said that the Whittington family who were in the Roaring River area ran a mill and she's wondering if it could have been this one.




Ref: Historical Spots in Old Barry County, by Nellie Alice Mills, printed 1952, page 67: "A large flouring mill on Shoal Creek was at Pioneer, southwest of Monett and not far from the Jolly Mill. Not far southwest of the mill the creek crosses over into Newton County, receives the water from Capps Creek, and becomes the leading stream of Newton County, furnishing power in the past and the present for many mills

The history of the mill begins in 1875. John L. Morton, known as one of the leading millwrights of the region, owned it in 1878, when he sold it to John L. Prickett who was the sole owner until 1885 when he sold one-half interest to Tillman Hoover. They refitted the mill with roller process. In 1886 Mr. Prickett bought Mr. Hoover's interest but he sold one-fourth interests to three others. In 1888 the mill was owned by L. E. Prickett, R. C. Stone, and C. W. Crider.

The Hutchens brothers came from McDowell and bought the Pioneer Mill in 1889. Three generations of the Hutchens family have owned the mill and operated it. In 1884 L. E. Prickett acknowledged the town of Pioneer. Pioneer became a very popular picnic ground and school and private parties."


Goodspeed's Account of the McDowell Mill

Barry County in Pictures

Focus on Pioneer - Includes Mill Photos

Here is another picture of the mill at Pioneer - in the 1880's



John Whittington with the help of his cousin, Samuel Houston Maloney, ran a mill at Eagle Rock, MO for a while. From Darla Marbut's notes: Dec 1896 Boon Haddock, J. N. Skelton, S. F. Scott and John Whittington and Pruitt were on a committee to get John Whittington to furnish framing to rebuild the Roaring River Baptist Church house and exchange lots.

John Whittington ran the mill at Eagle Rock and lived near by, probably in the dam area was where the church was built.


From the research and photo files of Darla Marbut

The old Calton Mill has been kept up so still exists today. It is on FR 1135 across the bridge from the Calton Cemetery. Morgan Calton married Mary Marbut, daughter of early Barry Co., MO settler Phillip Marbut.

Morgan Calton who owned this building first used it as a distillery, and probably was used for the making of whiskey. In those days it was hard to sell their crops and was the custom with some people living on a frontier, to turned their corn into whiskey and could use the river systems to get it to market.

When Morgan Calton saw that the Civil War was coming he loaded his liquor up and took it to Springfield, Missouri hoping to keep it from the armies. Little did he know he moved it into what became an Union Army Supply Depot. Needless to say his liquor didn't last long.

The fact that the building was empty probably saved it during the Civil War. Barry County often was under control of the Southern Army, then the Union would come along and take over. When the Armies left they always burn the mills so the other army couldn't use them.

It is said that if the army couldn't take their supplies and food with them in retreat, they burned them. Once they said you could smell bacon all over Fayetteville, AR when the Southern Army retreated they couldn't take all of it so they burned it.

Anyway Calton Mill didn't get burned and was later made into a mill to grind either or flour and also grits. It was in use until modern times. Little Flat Creek is behind it and is near the Calton Cemetery.

You can get there by taking Highway C out of Purdy to McDowell, and then take FR 1135, turn left on FR 1140 and it is right there. This is located in Northern Barry Co., MO. There is a little dirt road running between the mill and the ruins of an old canning factory.


Henderson's Mill

Goodspeed's History of Southwest Missouri, published 1888, page 565, reads: The discovery of lead and jack about Henderson's Mill on Flat Creek, three miles from Purdy and twelve miles southeast of Pierce City, is one of the latest leads struck in Barry County.

J. J. Davis' Mill

Goodspeed's History of Southwest Missouri, published 1888, page 616: Flat Creek Township was established in March 1844 within the following described boundaries: From the fifth crossing of Flat Creek, near P. Trower's house to William McKenny's house, including it, thence to the Taney County line near the head of Big Creek, thence south to White River Township line, thence southwest with that township line to J. J. Davis' Mill, on Roaring River, thence northwest to Thompson's on Washburn Prairie thence west to Hubbard's so as to leave Thompsons and Hubbard in Sugar Creek Township and west to the Newton County line, thence north to the Shoal Creek Township line, thence east to Ed. Talkington's house, thence direct to Trower's at the ford of Flat Creek leaving Phillip's house in Shoal Creek, and territory east of Trower's and north of the Flat Creek town line in McDonald Township. The court house was the place of meeting, and J. O. Burton, William Kerr and Price McMurty were judges of election.

Goodspeed's History of Southwest Missouri, published 1888, page 616: White River Township was detached from Sugar Creek Township in May 1841 and the following described boundaries establish: Commencing at the State line, east of John Roller's house, running east to north to Henry Pendergraft's, thence to J. J. Davis' Mill, and thence east to Taney County line. Charles Haddock's house was the designated place of the meeting, and J. J. Davis, Jacob Hickum and Charles Haddock were appointed judges. J. Hickum and Mira Jackson were elected justices of the peace.

Bowers Mill - owned and operated by Timothy Arthur Bowers

From the photo files of Jennifer LeVaugh

Jennifer stated that this picture was given to her by her grandmother. Her grandmother stated that this mill was torn down and now a residential house stands where it was. Most of the Bowers family members that she is related to are buried in the Mineral Springs cemetery. Some of the graves there are those of Farris Bowers, Lee Bowers, Esther Bowers, and O. Bowers.

The below news items helped to establish time and location of this family but they do not tell us when this mill was built - so if anyone can add information or anything about the Bowers family, please drop me a line and I'll pass it on to Jennifer.

In 1880 Oren Bowers was listed in Barry County, in Flat Creek Twp., with his wife Francis [Frances]. Oren was age 61 born in OH, with NJ born parents. Francis was age 48, born in IL, her father born in GA, and her mother in IL. Timothy, was listed as a son, age 12, born in IL. In 1910 Timothy Bowers was living in Mineral Springs Twp., and was age 42. He had wife and children included in his household was his mother, Frances, who was widowed and age 77.

Forest Grove News: Timothy Bowers will soon move to Aurora to work in the mines. Cassville Republican, Thursday, Jan 18, 1900

Hailey News: The ice cream social at Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Bowers, Thursday evening was well attended. A delightful time was reported. July 25, 1912, Thursday, Cassville Republican, Barry Co., MO

Forest Grove News: Will Bowers and wife, T. A. Bowers and daughters, Misses Maggie and Bertha, and Robert Greer were sight seeing at Roaring River Sunday. May 14, 1914, Thursday, Cassville Republican

Darla Marbut said that she was in what is now called the "Historical" Barry County Court House in Cassville and noticed there were glass front cabinets along the wall. This news clipping about Marbut Mill was in one of the cabinets. The article explains that there was an old log mill within this structure and the building in the photo was later built around it. The news story reads that this building was torn down about 1940 or 1941.

Bowers - Marbut Mill

Newspaper Item - Submitted by: Vicky Jenkins

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Part Two - Old Mills

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