The old Wind-Powered Grist Mill at Golden, Illinois. Sketch made by Mr. Donnell.
Donnellson, Illinois (Mr. dough tells in an interesting way, the story of this old mill at Golden, Illinois. He apologizes for the fact that it is not a steam engine or thresher but states it is closely allied to them.-Editor)
M? GOOD FRIEND, MR. CAR-son Donnell and I made the 140 mile trip to Golden, Adams County, Illinois, to see the old Dutch style wind mill, on June 19, 1953.
Mr. Donnell made a sketch of the exterior of the building and as it has not been in use for quite a while we prevailed on a man living near the mill to show us inside of it. As we climbed several flights of steps leading from one floor to another, our guide called to our attention to the treads of the steps being worn almost half way through near the ends and also that the steps had been turned around so the other ends were also worn down. A rope dangled at the right side of each flight of steps so one could help pull himself up as the steps were very steep owing to the limited room especially near the top of the tower.
We were especially fascinated by the exceptionally neat workmanship of the old German millwright who came over to this country and built it. I would judge the large wooden gears varied from 4 feet to 12 feet or more in diameter and perhaps from 4 inches to 6 or 8 inches face. Both bevel and spur gears were built up entirely of wood and pinned together with wood pins. The spokes of the larger gears were mortised into wood shafts as large as a man's body, and the smaller shafts were 5 or 6 inches in diameter, all made of wood with iron gudgeons and iron bands on ends of shafts.
The hard maple cogs were mortised into the wood rims. The mortises, tendons, jims and joints were applied with linseed oil so that when driven together and dried they were practically glued together.
I would judge the main power shaft is 60 feet or more above the ground. A large gear with a built-in brake drum was attached to the power wheel shaft. This gear engaged a smaller one on a vertical shaft from which the power for the machinery lower down in the tower was taken. Each successive set of gears were arranged to multiply the speed as the arms of the wind blades were 35 feet long thereby describing a 70 foot circle and naturally turned very slow.
On the second floor from the ground the three sets of stone buhrs were located so that any set could be thrown into or out of gear by shifting large timbers to mesh the gears in or out.
At the top of the tower is a cap-shaped dome built in the form of a turret so that it could be turned into the wind from any direction. Long timbers from the turret came down to a sort of winch affair which was operated from platform built around the tower about midway of its height. This platform was recently removed owing to its decayed condition. When the mill was turned into the wind it was anchored in position against the torque of the gears. The arms of the wind blades have decayed and fallen down.
The heavy machinery, gearing shafts, buhrs, etc., are still intact, but the small equipment such as cleaners, bolters, etc., have been removed.
We were unable to get much history of it as those we were able to contact differed slightly in opinion but they all agreed it was built around 1870. Years ago it operated day and night grinding the grain grown locally, also 10 car loads of buckwheat each year shipped in from New York State. It was originally owned by a German, Mr. Emminga who passed away years ago.
To us it seems deplorable that it is allowed to crumble to ruins, when if someone could be interested to put it in repair and preserve it as a shrine dedicated to the memory of a past industrial era it could be done. We wish that some historical society, the state, or some one with influence would become interested in it. In a few more years it will be completely in ruins.
It is located just off of Illinois Highway 102, about 30 or 35 miles northeast of Quincy.
When exploring this old relic of the past we saw all this machinery as still as death for many years, but it is easy to visualize how in former years it hummed with activity