The original steam-powered lumber mill, which created building material for the settlers, also contained “one run of burrs” for corn and was built by George Ames, Joel Florida, and their friend, Guilford D. George in 1856.
The mill's one set of stones for grinding had no system to filter, sift, or create a true flour. The expression, "run of the mill" has it's origins here, whatever came out, came out!
The mill burned down in 1857 and was rebuilt to use water power from the Crow River. After a sucessful year, the families expanded to a proper flour mill and an increased production from the lumber mill.
MILLER TIME: ROCKFORD STYLE
Rock Island, Ill[inois] Sat[urday] Dec[ember] 3, 1887
The other night I went to bed the lamp was on the stand Will came in, and shouted, called Jess, and they both had great fun at my expense, and this was what caused it. Florida’s Best, Queen of the Pantry was in large letters over my head. it struck them as very funny. Mama will remember that we did not have room in our trunks for some sacks & I had taken one to throw over my head. I made bread yesterday with the flour you sent us, and it is very fine. I am not as good a bread maker as Mama & don’t have a very good place to keep it I think, but your flour will make good bread if it has any chance…
Letter from Nellie to family in Rockford
The flour mill stood three stories tall, on the Wright County side of the Crow, built out over the river so the water wheel could catch the current on its way to Hanover.
Just a couple of days before his death in 1878, George Ames sold the mills and the AFS House to his nephew, George Florida.
Using the new technology available at the time from entrepenuers named Pilsbury and Crosby, George Florida converted the grinding stone operation to a roller mill. Instead of creating a buring heat during the milling process, the pulverizing rollers crushed the grain and produced a fine, white flour, highly desired by bakers.
Below is a page from the financial records, created in 1878.
Rock Island, Ill[inois] Christmas Eve 1885
My Darling George
I will send a tardy thanks for the flour but our appreciation has not been tardy. It does look so good and satisfying to see those great big sacks standing in the corner of the room. I can hardly keep bread enough baked. I asked Mr. Wagner the other day about selling your flour, and he said if you will like to send some he might take some. He told me to ask you what your prices were and what you would think about it.
He says the Millers here use Minnesota wheat, but no Minnesota flour is sold except by Mr. Hawley who is agent for Pillsbury’s Best. There never was a man who more highly respected his business or appreciated the value of what he has on hand, & I think he would be a good man to introduce anything, that Mr. Wagner. He comes to our kitchen door every other morning, and it takes much firmness to withstand his enthusiasm, and when he brings something it proves to be as good as he recommended it to be. We are disappointed in not having Miss Briggs & Miss Platt to dinner tomorrow both were engaged. I did not dare to ask them until I should be ready, & it is always my luck when I wait to be ready, but we will ask the Carter girls to tea Saturday. How I wish you, & Mama & Aunt Sarah could come.
The weather is lovely, sometimes we long for the Blacks, but we are glad they are well. Please remember us to them kindly. We are delighted with your letter to Carrie It was charming, and Carrie & I said we thought you could write as well as Jessie. Please send samples of your skill often and now much love to you from us all and the best of wishes