Volume 5, Number 7, Spring 1975
The Jolly Mill; on Capps Creek Newton County Mo. 1848-1975. The land on which the Jolly Mill stands was part of a Spanish Land Grant made to a man named Ferguson prior to 1799 when Spain had its Governmental Headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.
A Federal Land Grant was made to Frederick Crackel on April 2nd, 1844. Ownership passed from Frederick Crackel to Anthony Bledsoe on July 7th, 1845. Then to Frederick Hisaw; one week later on 13th Hisaw sold to John and Thomas Isbul. At this time a small Grist Mill was in operation up-stream from the present site.
John and Thomas Isbul built the present Jolly Mill for use as a Distillery. Of necessity, grain grinding equipment had to be a part of the plant. Isbuls used the only grinding machinery available, Stone Buhrs. These first Buhrs were viewed first by me in 1925 and were replaced with a Nordyke & Marmon 42" Top Runner Buhrs. This run of Buhrs was still in service as late as 1974.
John Isbul sold to George Brown on Nov. 12th, 1894. Brown is credited with the building of the Rock Mill Dam. George I, Brown sold to Firman A. Lucas on Nov. 12th, 1895. Lucas heirs, sold to Charles Martin Nov. 1st, 1896; Martin sold to L. H. Haskins in 1912. His Widow was owner until her death in 1973.
"Hearsay" Word of mouth.
Jolly Mill was given its name, because of the name Jollification given to a town that came into being around the Distillery and Mill.
This little town maintained growth from about 1850 until the coming of the Railroad following the war between the states. Wagon trains hauled vital supplies from points such as Boonville on the Missouri River and later from St. Louis. A large part of the supplies going into the Indian territory passed through on their way west to Newionia and points in the new Territory. At one time a School, with attendance as high as one hundred pupils, was in operation. Also Churches, Stores, Blacksmith Shop, and other pioneer industries. These passed with the coming of the Railroad; but, because the heart of the Community was The Jolly Mill, a measure of life remained.
In the late eighties or early nineties new Roller Mills were installed and modern flour milling joined the Buhrs. In the 1900s these rolls were removed and re-installed at Stark City, Mo.
When L. H. Haskins bought the Mill in 1912 his efforts were devoted to the manufacturing of good corn meal made on the Nordyke & Marmon Stone Buhrs.
His son, Frank, took over the Mill operation at the time of his Fathers passing, and became an outstanding Miller on Stone. One of the very few remaining active millers, and the only one in this area familiar with the operation of Top Runners Buhrs. He was a careful operator, and showed honest pride in the good meal that he produced.
From 1924 until the Mills closing I have gathered and kept many memories. I visited the Mill first in the 1920s with God-given Friends, The Hutchens family of Pioneer Mill at Pioneer Mo. On my return from Service in W. W. II. I became a regular visitor at Jolly and in 1973 brought some ear corn to the mill to be ground. Frank Haskins and I cleaned and shelled the corn and he did the grinding. The Water was low and we had to stop grinding and wait for the water to build up; after about five hours of intermittant grinding we had about 100 lbs of good corn meal. This long drawn-out job reminded me of a tale told by an old Miller friend:" The boy brought grain to the mill; the water was low and the Miller had to wait for power. The boy said: This is the slowest grinding that I ever saw; I could eat if as fast as you grind it." The Miller said, "That may be so Son, but how long could you keep it up?" The Boy answered, "Until I starved to death."
Remnants-The Mill building with its large foundation rocks; No mortar used, the rocks placed and levelled and held in place by smaller rocks; The timbers hand-hewed by Isbuls slaves; The sheeting, Pit-sawed years before the coming of the circular saw; The old hand-millwright worked on conveyors and gears; The remains of the old Whiskey vat that became a sturdy work
bench and the old original millstones and many improvised tools and other items made and used by long-gone Sons of Martha who perhaps without knowing, with the work of their hands and minds worshipped the God of things as they were, and as they are.
As a memorial sign of old Jolly Mill, the builders of the Edwards Mill on the Campus of the School of the Ozarks reproduced the roof line of the Jolly Mill complete with cupolas, same length, same width, and covered with old style shakes. This genuine reproduction, was made possible by the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Edwards, sponsors of the Edwards Mill.
One rock from the Jolly Mill is a part of the Edwards Mill.
On my last visit to Jolly Mill, the daughters of Frank Haskins, two lovely Ozark school girls, were grinding feed for their farm animals, Bright-eyed, Saucy, but kind. To them and to their Jolly Mill I dedicated a poem credited to the Antipator of Thessalonica and dated 85 B.C. I found it in an article on Englands Surrey Mills. It is perhaps the oldest song about a water mill.
"Ye Maids who toiled so faithfully at the Mill
Now cease your work and from these toils be still;
Sleep now till dawn, and let the birds with glee
Sing to the ruddy morn from bush and tree;
For what your hands performed so long and true,
Ceres has charged the Water Nymphs to do.."
P.S. The Jolly Mill has been given a new lease on life, Ben Taylor, now a resident of New Orleans, La., and a native Missourian has bought Jolly Mill from The Haskins Family. He visited the Mill as a boy with his family when they had their grinding done. He plans an interesting restoration. Thanks Ben Taylor.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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