the Palmyra Spectator, March 13, 1924
recent issue of the National Miller contained a write-tip of some
of the old water mills of Missouri, and among them was the old Bay
Mill South of this city. The article, in part, is as follows:
one of the most noted of the early day grinding outfits was the
Bay Mills, north of Hannibal, Mo. It had a tremendous overshot
wheel, and the machinery was wonderfully powerful for its day. It
did grinding for Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois farmers, and the
quality of its product had almost a national reputation. Later
Capt. A. S. RoBards, a "forty-niner," established a
large flour mill at Hannibal, and its flour took premiums at the
World's Fair, New York, in 1853. A barrel of RoBard's Premium
flour was sent in gilded hoops to the Queen of England.
were interesting features connected with the "water mill
period" of the West, when most large streams had waterwheels
to do various kinds of work. The late W. E. Mc Cully, at one time
chairman of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of Missouri,
remembered the popular water mill operated by his father on the
Chariton river, and what a social event "going to mill"
was for the early settlers. Mr. Mc Cully, speaking from his
remembrance as a boy, described it this way:
was the event of the year when a farmer went to mill those days.
Some of father's patrons drove down from Iowa, 100 miles or more.
At times the offerings were so heavy that a farmer would have to
wait two or three weeks for his turn. As soon as a new load
arrived its turn would be indicated by a red keel mark put on the
sacks by the miller or his helpers. Any dispute about whose turn
came next was settled by the miller. His word was the law of the
was also a part of his duty to referee bouts at fisticuffs and
wrestling. The customers as a rule did not get impatient. They
came prepared to make a long stay. They would bring with them
plenty of provisions and fishing lines. I've seen 'em strung out
for three miles up and do the river fishing, and they caught some
big ones too, for the river was full of fish then. As the old
buhrs would only grind two or three shelled corn an hour, it was
necessary to keep the mill going all night to come anywhere near
handling the trade. There was a night miller, who worked by the
light of tallow candles.
midnight Saturday the water gate was shut until early Monday
morning. The closing of the gate formed a trap for the fish, and
during hours when work was suspended the catch this way was