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,
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
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
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.