The first watered powered mill, to my knowledge was built near the Mervin Wolf place in the early part of the 1850's. Some say it was constructed in 1854 and others say earlier. George Wood (George's Creek is named after him) built and operated it. This mill was used to gin cotton for the use of families in the surrounding area for their own home use.
Joseph and Neacy Burleson, my grandparents, took cotton to this mill when they were first married in 1852. They planted a few rows of cotton for their own use. Grandmother spun it on her her spinning wheel into thread and weaved the thread on her loom into cloth to make clothes for her family.
It is unknown to me if this was the same mill or not, but Bill Hudson (nicknamed South Foot or Chicken Foot) had a grist mill and saw mill that were destroyed by fire during the Civil War.
After the Bawcum Mill was built on Crooked Creek, sometime before the Civil War, this mill on George's Creek turned to sawing lumber for there was a lot of pine timber nearby. I am told by my family and others that the lumber was sawed at this mill to rebuild the Methodist Church at Shiloah in 1867, which burned during the Civil War. It also furnished most of the lumber to rebuild Yellville after the War.
It is unknown to me if George's Creek Mill had an overshot or undrshot [sic] wheel. It is also unknown to me when it went out of operation, but like other water powered mills it gave way to steam and oil powered engines.
When I was a small boy, about 1925, the Markle Saw Mill was in operation near Dodd City and the Young's Saw Mill near Pyatt. The Markle Mill sawed the lumber to build the house where I was born in 1915. My father had bought and moved into a small log house that was already on the place in 1907. He and his family had made a good corn crop on the farm and he traded Mr. Markle corn for lumber to build a new three room box house, which is still standing.
George Licklater operated a small gas powered saw mill near Turkey for a short time around 1925.
THE BAWCUM MILL
I will get back to the early mills. There was another larger undershot water mill, built and operated by Mr. Bawcum before the Civil War, on Crooked Creek between the mouth of George's Creek and Yellville. This is near where Eddie Baldridge now lives.
What I know about this mill is what I have been told mostly by my uncle, Jasper Burleson born in 1856, and my father, Charlie Burleson born in 1872. They said it was a larger mill and had a lot more power than any of the other water mills. It was used to gin cotton, grind cornmeal and wheat flour. Both my uncle and father could remember going to the mill when they were small boys. My uncle said he could remember it being partly burned during the war, but it was back in operation in a short time and remained in operation until about 1900.
At this point I would like to tell two true stories that happened at this mill. Once my grandfather was at the mill and was sitting on the loading platform with two other men waiting for their wheat to be ground into flour. The two other men got in a big discussion or argument about their churches. One of the men said his was the only church and a person couldn't be saved and go to Heaven unless he was a member of his church. The other man was saying that he thought being a Christian was the important thing and that his church wasn't the only way one could be saved and go to Heaven. This man, who lived up on the head of Greasy Creek near Bruno, told him that there were two ways he could get to the mill. He could come by a road down Greasy Creek and on down Crooked Creek to the mill or he could come around a ridge road and come off the hill to the mill. So he said to him, "There is a ridge route and there is a creek route to the mill, but I have never had the miller to ask which way I came; he just tests my wheat and gives me flour accordingly." That ended the argument.
The other story told by my father was when he was a boy at the mill with Grandfather. He said there was a chute and a waste gate to let the unused water go through and also used to let the fish go up stream in the spring to spawn. He said Mr. Bawcum at times would close the gate and the fish would fill the chute and a person could get down in the water and catch them easily. However, he had a rule, a person couldn't get more fish than he could carry at one time. My father said one time he was there and an old man got almost more than he could carry. He had to rest two or three times before he could get them up on the bank where his horse was tied. He said Mr. Bawcum just shook his head and said he wouldn't stop him because he was getting old and he didn't make him throw some back.
A STEAM MILL AT SNOW
The next mill was a steam engine operated mill built in 1888 just a little north and west of where the old cobblestone Snow School House now stands and just below the spring at the old John Cheek home on the spring branch.
My grandmother, Neacy Burleson, was killed at this mill. She and another woman were looking over the mill while it was ginning cotton. Mr. McAfee, who owned and operated the mill, was showing them the mill and as Grandmother stepped over a line shaft some way her dress tail caught around the shaft. It wound her around the shaft crushing her to death.
It is unknown to me how long the mill was in operation. As a small boy in 1923 I started attending school at Snow and at that time all that was left of the mill was the old steam boiler. The old boiler is still in the branch almost completely buried in the sand at this present time. I can remember my father and others talking about them coming up the road by the Shiloah Church with the boiler on a big wagon pulled by four teams of horses. The boiler came up the White River on a steamboat; I believe he said to McBee's landing.
THE HOLADAY UNDERSHOT WATER MILL
This mill was built by Moses Joshua Holaday in 1896. It is what is called an undershot water wheel and was located on Crooked Creek a short distance below the mouth of George's Creek. It was used to gin cotton and grind cornmeal and wheat flour.
After Mr. Holaday's death in 1908, his son operated it until about 1914 when it was sold to lsacc (Ike) Pangle and he operated it for a time. Then Lindly Williams, his son-in-law, operated it for Mr. Pangle until about 1920 when it was closed down.
Ruby, a daughter of Henry Johnson, who lived a short distance up Crooked Creek said she could remember when the large flood came in 1915 and Mr. Pangle gave them the meal that got wet to feed their chickens. She told me also could remember when he got enough cotton ginned, they would all go down and help tramp it into a bale.
Tressie (Pangle) Narramore, daughter of Mr. Pangle, furnished me with the pictures taken by her of the dam and a mill a short time before it was closed down. Mrs. Alsey (Wagoner) Ott, a granddaughter of Mr. Holaday, furnished me with some information about the mill and I can remember seeing part of the old mill and dam after it shut down about 1926.
The last water mill to be built in this community was a small overshot water wheel. It was built about a mile south of the Cedar Grove Church on the south side of Crooked Creek on a small spring branch that emptied into Crooked Creek. The builder was Sim Hudson but was later owned and operated by Johnny Reed. It is unknown to me when it was built but I think about 1900.
I have ridden a horse a number of times when taking a bushel of corn to this mill when I was 10 to 12 years old, which would be 1925 to 1927. I went with my father earlier than that. I can remember there was a pond above the mill to hold the water to run the mill. I also remember going with Mr. Reed to feed the fish he had in the pond.
I remember a little story they told about this mill when it was first built. I don't think it was true; they just made it up in fun to tease Mr. Hudson because the mill was small and didn't grind meal too fast. Since it was such a slow process, at times Mr. Hudson would fill up the hopper with corn and go off and do something else while it was grinding. A man (I think his name was Cunningham) said he was chopping wood on a hill nearby the mill. He kept hearing a dog barking like he had something treed, so he thought he would go see what it was. He put his ax on his shoulder and took off and when he got there a big dog was sitting up in the mealbox lapping up the meal and barking while he waited for more.
In the early 1900's water and steam powered mills in this community begin to give way to oil powered stationary engines. The Reed Water Mill stayed in operation the longest time. The smaller cotton gins gave way to larger ones at Yellville, Flippin and Bruno. I can remember in the fall seeing wagon load after wagon load of cotton going to Yellville to the gin. In my lifetime, I have seen the cotton gin go out and at the present time there is no cotton grown in the county for sale.
Also, flour mills gave way to bigger ones being located at Valley Springs, Lead Hill, and Harrison. They ground the wheat, separated the shorts and bran, and we had white flour instead of all wheat flour. To my knowledge there was not a flour mill in the county by 1925. In 1925 I can remember my father taking a wagon loaded with wheat to Valley Springs and having it ground into flour for our own use. He would also bring back the bran and shorts to feed to the stock. He would go to the mill in one day, camp at the mill, and return the next day. At this time there isn't a flour mill in this part of the state to my knowledge.
This is a picture of a double turbine water wheel used to power the Hollingsworth Grist Mill on Little Norfork River in Norfork Township. The mill was built by Robert and Lemuel Hollingsworth in 1885 and operated until 1933. It weighs over 7,000 pounds. At present this water wheel is on display in the Marion County Court House yard.
THE TURKEY AND COMAL MILLS
The corn mills remained in this area much longer than any other type of mills. A stationary kerosene engine powered mill was built at Turkey by L.L. Brooksher in about 1912 and one was built at Comal by Bill Emerson in about 1915.
Due to the sickness of Mr. Emerson's wife, Tom Stonecipher operated the corn mill and his store for about three years starting in 1917. After the death of his wife, Mr. Emerson operated the mill and store for a year then closed them when the town of Comal did not grow. He moved the mill to his farm about one half mile south of Comal and opened it for a while then closed it for good.
The Turkey Mill saw a lot more service. It was operated at Turkey for about 24 years. Due to not being able to purchase land to build a new mill on, Mr. Brooksher moved his mill a quarter mile west of Turkey in 1936 near his home. He operated the mill until 1940 when he passed away. Oliver Ply then operated it every Saturday for Mrs. Brooksher until about 1956 and it was then shut down as more and more people bought the meal in a bag at the grocery store.
Let me say that one has never eaten real cornbread or mush made out of white corn until they have had some ground on an old fashion stone burr mill. I wish I could have some mush and milk for supper tonight. To my knowledge there is not a corn mill operating in Marion County at this present time.
However, this is not the end of the Turkey Mill for it was bought from Mrs. Brooksher by O.J. Snow in 1967 for use at Dogpatch. They got it back to work grinding meal to sell to the visitors that come to Dogpatch. It is operated by Mirl Neighbours every season powered by an old fashioned water wheel (an overshot wheel). It is a smaller wheel than one operated by Mr. Reed just south of Comal. This makes 16 years that Mr. Neighbours has operated it and he is operating it at present (1984), as seen in top L & R photos.
Dogpatch had no use for the engine, so Billy Joe Purdom purchased it and later sold it as a collector's item to a man, who lives in Pennsylvania. So the Turkey Mill was able to go through the changing times and still finds a use in this modern world. The picture to the left and above is the mill in use today at Hasty, Arkansas operated by Earl Henry. It's like the one that was at Comal but Turkey's engine was larger.
Reprinted with permission from Treasured Memories of a Beautiful Place in the North Arkansas Ozark Hills by Floyd Burleson, copyright 1989.