Grain elevators and mills were a common
industry, especially in Botkins, Anna, Jackson Center, Maplewood, Hardin Station,
Pemberton, and Russia, all with direct access to steam railroads.
The large Sheets Grain elevator in Botkins was part of an industrial empire which included
the Ohio Spoke and Bending Company.
Even before large elevators, the countryside was
dotted with mills to produce flour for local use.
Jackson Centers first mill, for example, was built in 1839 by Daniel Davis, and
"was a horse mill, there being little or no access to water power in this part of the
county" (Memoirs). At Pontiac, now Kirkwood, William Berry built a flour mill in 1812. He
reportedly ground meal for Harrisons soldiers on the march to the northwest
Whiskey production, reducing a bulky corn crop to a profitable, compact item, was
popular at several milling enterprises. The old Maxwell mill on upper Mosquito creek
"maintained...a small distillery---or old-fashioned copper still--which produced a
moderate amount of whiskey" (Memoirs).
Though Ft. Loramie had no direct access to a large shipping rail company, its steam
flouring mill, "the largest mill in Shelby County...specialty is the Daisy O.K.
flour," found its market via trucks and the Western Ohio Electric, "a spur of
which is Fort Loramies only connection with a steam railroad" (Memoirs).
Construction of Maplewoods grain warehouses meshed with rail construction.
"When the D.T. & I. railroad came down from the north, a new lease of life came
to the neighborhood, and the village as it now stands has been built almost wholly since
1892..." In Pemberton: "...The looming presence of two big grain elevators at
the side of the steel artery of traffic answers the question of what drew population to
this spot" (Memoirs).
The basic grain elevator, flour mill, tile-making, and saw-mill industries, coupled
with a thriving farming industry, drove the economy of Shelby Countys small
villages. In Anna, for example, you could find in 1891, "3 dry goods stores, 3 shoe
stores, 2 drug stores, 1 jewelry store, 1 agricultural store, 2 stove and tin stores, 1
paint store, 5 groceries, 2 bakeries, 2 meat markets, 1 furniture and undertaking
establishment, 3 millinery and dress making establishments, 1 harness shop, 4 saloons, 1
hotel, 2 livery barns, 2 dray lines, 2 tonsorial shops, 3 grain elevators, 1 flouring
mill...2 saw mills, 1 lumber yard, 1 carpet shop, 2 blacksmith shops..." (SCD, Apr.
written in January, 1998 by Rich Wallace
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