Friday, February 17, 2012

Ozanne Old Mill

The Old Mill, built in Somers by the Rev. James Ozanne in the early forties.
(Source: My Memoirs by Minn A.G. Ozanne, Copyright 1948 - Minnie A.G. Ozanne. All Rights Reserved.)

The Old Mill
"Another relic of those pioneer days of Our Town, is gone, when farmers carried their grain to the "Old Mill" in bags, and returned home with the same bags filled with the same grain, ground into flour.
This "Old Mill" was built by the Rev. James Ozanne, an experienced miller and baker, as well as preacher, who came to Somers, then called Pike, from the Isle of Guernsey, In 1842, and established his home on the Green Bay Trail.  Soon after his arrival he began the construction of this mill on his acquired property, one mile west of his home.
The "Old Mill" was an octagonal tower five stories high, built of heavy hand-hewn timbers, and beams, from the Ozanne woods.  The foundation stones were gathered from a nearby quarry.  Much time also went into the motive power, which as a huge windmill wheel also made of wood and strips of iron, while the sails on each arm were of adjustable canvas, that might be spread full to gentle breezes, and furled against threatening gales, thus controlling the speed of the wheel.
After all the timbers and the beams were methodically fitted and put together, and the mill ready for use, Rev. Ozanne hesitated to trust the selection of the grinding stones to anyone, so he journeyed to Boston, Massachusetts, where he knew desirable mill stones could be purchased.  This journey required many weeks.  Upon his return, he carefully placed the mill stones in position for the grinding of the farmer's grain.  These mill stones were imported from France.
The grain was carried to the fifth and upper floor of the tower by a rope windless turned by a hand crank.  Here it was emptied into a large hopper, and fed into the mill stones on the second floor.  The grist, as it came from the mill stones, was caught in bags on the floor below.  Here it was weighed on a Fairbanks-Morse scale, with a capacity of 1200 pounds, built in the Vermont factory, in 1850.  The scale is still in use.
Rev. James Ozanne operated the "Old Mill" until 1868, when he sold it to Joseph Nelesen, who took it down and moved three stories of it to his farm at St. Martin's, Milwaukee County.  It was reassembled, and until 1892 the heavy wheels kept turning.  It required 33 heavy horse-drawn wagons to carry the "Old Mill" and its machinery, including the mill stones, from Somers to St. Martin's.  For more than fifty years, the worn mill stones have lain idle.  The winds, and the rains, and the winter snows have preyed upon the heavy structure, and brought decay, and the birds have nested and found shelter among its beams.
Joseph Nelesen was a native of Holland, and came to America in 1851, when a boy of 14 years.  When your narrator (Minnie Ozanne), he was 93 years of age.
Note:  A large oak stump on the high hill (now in Petrifying Spring Park) served as a view point in those early days, upon which the farmers over east would climb to see if the Ozanne Mill was working.  This high spot overlooked the dense woods."
(Source: My Memoirs by Minnie A.G. Ozanne, Copyright 1948 - Minnie A.G. Ozanne. All Rights Reserved.)

Partial 1861 Somers Township Map
Section 10, See Ozanne parcel showing a notation marked "Windmill"

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