Springfield-Greene County History

Local History Website of the SMSU Department of History


Mills of Springfield and Greene County  (K-5)  

The early settlers hunted and started farms to feed their families. They wanted to eat bread.  To make bread they needed flour or cornmeal.  They could grow the wheat and corn. They needed a way to grind it.  In the early days, they pounded corn on a stump to make cornmeal.  It was not very good.  Then, they built mills to grind the corn and wheat.  The first mills were small. A horse turned the mill. Then they built water mills. Greene County had lots of springs and streams. They used their water power.

In 1822, a man named Ingle built the first water mill in Greene County.  This mill was built on the James River.  It was about 8 miles south of Springfield.  This mill was operated by river power.  Jerry Pearson, John Marshall, and William Fulbright built other early water mills.  Mr. Fulbright’s mill was under a bluff on the Little Sac River.  It was north of Springfield.  This mill was still operating in 1870.  These mills used water wheels and large millstones for grinding.

Pictures of a water wheel and a mill stone:



A very interesting mill in Greene County was Ingram Mill.   Sidney Ingram and A.G. McCracken built it in 1859.  It was built on the James River.  It was an important mill in this area.  Ingram Mill was blown down by a tornado in 1880.  Mr. Ingram rebuilt it.  It operated until 1909.  In 1909 a flood washed it away.

Sometimes there was little rain. There was less water in the streams and rivers. The water was low. Sometimes, there was not enough water power to run the mills.  A man named Sampson Bass built a steam mill in 1859.  He used steam to power his mill.  It ran during times when the water was very low.  The people depended on it.  This mill was near the Pomme de Terre River in Greene County.  It was the first of many steam mills in this area.  Steam mills were built in Springfield.

Pictures of mills in Springfield:





Queen City Milling was built in Springfield in 1879.  It was at the Frisco Railroad Track and Boonville Street.  It could grind many thousands of bushels of grain in a day.  It made 200 barrels of flour in a day.  This location was very good.  The Frisco Railroad took the flour all over the United States. 


Pictures of Queen City which became Meyer and Sons Mills:



Mills were very important to the people of southwestern Missouri.  The people needed them so that they could live here.  It is interesting to see how the settlers were able to make more and more flour.  They were very imaginative.  The history of mills in Greene County is an interesting part of our heritage.

Author: Karen Girdler

“History of Greene County," 1883 by Holcombe
“Personal Reminiscences," 1914 by Martin Hubble
“Pictorial and Genealogical Record of Greene County, Missouri” 
“Past and Present of Greene County Missouri," 1915 by Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Also see the photos of historic mills at the internet site:

The Mills of Ozark County: A Tour of the Past

Website Created and Maintained by F. Thornton Miller, SMSU Department of History