Progress by Windmills

Home of H. H. Emminga

A postcard view of the very fine home of H. H. Emminga. It has not changed, except fore repairs. Courtesy of Ralph Hussong, Route 2, Camp Point, Illinois 62320

Ralph Hussong

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Route 2, Camp Point, Illinois 62320

Hinrich R. Emminga, born in 1829 in Ostfriesland, was a mill-wright. He married Margaret H. Franzen, who was born in 1824. In 1851 the family emigrated, coming by way of New Orleans, and in 1852 located on what was called the Golden Prairie, today the town of Golden, in this country, arriving there in February. Hinrich R. Emminga built several windmills in this county for the grinding of grain, which he operated. In 1863 he returned to Germany, where his wife died in 1868. In 1872 he again came to America, but seven years later returned to Germany where he departed this life in 1888. Harm H. Emminga, the son born December 25, 1850, in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, came with his parents and grew up in this country, in the course of time becoming one of the most promising citizens of Golden. In 1872 he married Marie Gembler born December 12, 1854, in San Antonio, Texas, daughter of John J. Gembler, one of the German pioneers who located in Texas in 1847.

Harm H. Emminga was a miller, and in 1879 went into the grain business, in which he was very successful. In 1889 he built a mill, modern in every respect, with the full roller process and a capacity of 200 barrels per day, which he named the New Era Mills. He then operated direct communication with the West Indies, England, France, Holland and other foreign countries. Golden being in need of a bank, Harm H. Emminga on July 1, 1894, opened the Peoples Exchange Bank, which proved successful, and in 1905 he erected a modern bank building covering an area of 40 by 50 feet, a model of its kind. Harm H. Emminga traveled extensively in the course of years, partly on account of business, and partly for pleasure, from an inclination to see and learn something of the world and its people.

He crossed the Atlantic between America and Europe a number of times. In 1910 he took a trip to Palestine and the Holy Land of the Bible, the land where the scenes of the oldest history of the human race were laid and enacted, spending three months in that trip. His trip at that time was of a philanthropic nature, he being interested in the work of Dr. Ludwig Schneller, the founder of the Syrian Orphan Home of Jerusalem, a work to which Mr. Emminga in the course of years had contributed considerable of his means. Mr. Emminga was a friend of books and in the course of time acquired a great collection of rare and valuable works. Harm H. Emminga departed this life December 9, 1915, mourned by a large circle of friends and relatives. He was survived by his wife, and son, John J. Emminga, cashier of the Peoples exchange Bank, and one daughter, Margaret Emminga.

During H. H. Emminga's operation of the windmill and his later operation of the steam mill, he built a string of elevators along the Wabash Railroad clear to Hamilton, Illinois including the large modern elevator at Golden to supply his mill in operation and naturally, it brought him in contact with the grain trade proper.

His unusual ability was by no means centered in his own business, but he did a lot for the community in general. He established the first bank in Golden, the newspaper is still operating. He was an active supporter of the Lutheran Church.

As a boy and young man, I knew this man quite well and admired his almost super - natural business ability. He made the town of Golden what it is.

I occasionally visited the engine room with its fine 150 HP Corliss engine which powered the 200 barrel mill which not only supplied the local German trade, but shipped its products to the low countries of Europe.

The Windmill, which was built in 1872, was used in the manufacture of buckwheat flour, rye and graham flour, cornmeal and ordinary mill feeds. It was built on the power idea and is ninety-two feet high. The four fans were seventy-one feet long, from tip to tip, and eight feet wide. A strong wind would produce seventy-five horsepower. With its three sets of lava burrs (mill stones) it had a capacity of five hundred bushels of grain per day.

Thirty-five loads of rock were hauled from a creek some seven miles distant by farmers of the community. The large elm, oak, and hard maple timbers were sawed by a Mr. Buss near Mt. Sterling. The lumber from which the bolting machines and other machinery were made was also sawed there.

The carpenters began building the mill under the direction of H. R. Emminga on August 11, 1872. The first story was completed September 2, 1872. The following winter and spring Mr. Emminga made most of the wooden machinery used in the mill by hand. The main drive wheel, or master wheel, of the cam and sprocket type is twelve feet in diameter, made entirely of hard maple. It required almost eight months to finish it. In the many years of continuous service this wheel had hardly shown wear. The main shaft on which the wheel, as well as the four fans were fastened, is made of cast iron and weighs 4,700 pounds. The bearing in which it rests weighs 340 pounds. These were made on a special order by the city foundry in Quincy. The smaller iron parts were made in Camp Point, Illinois. Mr. Emminga drew all the plans and even made the patterns for the castings.

On April 5, 1873 the upper stories and the tower of the mill were erected and on April 15 the main shaft was put in place.

There were two sets of lava burrs ready for use on September 1, 1873, which were imported from France (as all mill stones were) at a cost of $400 per stone. Then the grinding of mill foods was begun. On August 15, 1874 the third set of burrs was placed. This burr is five feet in diameter, weighs 5,000 pounds, and its installation completed the mill.