Friday, October 3, 2014

Mills Make Junction City a Better Place to Live



               As I was reading through the “Mills” folder in our newspaper clippings file, researching for the Fogarty Mill article, I came across the Museum Musing from June 21, 1987.  Irene Jeffries, a museum trustee, wrote an article about the different types of Mills in Geary County in the 1800s and into the early 1900s. I thought her article would be a lovely follow-up to the Fogarty Mill article from September.  So if you wanted to know more about mills in Geary County this should satisfy that curiosity.
                As the westward movement beckoned wagon trains of venturesome people to explore new regions, two things were considered necessities for settlement. Building materials such as trees, sod, or stone, and good water supply held priority. Depending upon the length of the time of settlement, of course, good soil, protection and the possibilities for the future held promise for the early pioneers.
                The first industries in the territory in Kansas included mills, both for milling and sawing lumber. The importance of the early grist and sawmill can be equated with survival. What better way to grind meal for food and cut lumber for building, than to harness the wind, local stream and rivers to work for survivor preservation?
                Much of the lumber used in constructing the buildings in Junction City was cut at the Union Mills erected at Bacheller (Milford) in 1859 and operated by Clark, Pierce, and Bryan. Of course, previously the first buildings were made of logs. There was a good supply of Oak, black walnut, hickory and cottonwood to be found in the area.
                Saw millsspring up quickly. In the Newspaper Kansas Statesman of 1860 there were several advertisements: the mill at Milford, a steam saw mill operated by Cuddy and Mitchell, and another by Pierce and Henderson.
                Robert Wilson operated a mill in 1863, later purchased by Brown and Woodward. An announcement in the Junction City Union April 18, 1863, announced that they would grind corn every Saturday, indicating that power for a saw mill could also be used for a grist mill. By July of 1863, Brown and Woodward had added machinery for a steam flouring mill. Woodward was apparently succeeded in this operation by Stover. On Jan. 6, 1866, an announcement signed by Brown and Stover indicated that Junction City Steam Mill handles both grain and wood.
                In 1867 the first Smoky Hill River Bridge Co., constructed a bridge bear where the Fogarty Dam would be built later. The bridge was a real asset to the Fogarty Star Mills.
                In 1873 the government gave Cornelius Fogarty a grant for a grist mill. The Star Mills were by far the largest and most productive in the Junction City area. A dam was constructed across the Smoky Hill River, east of Junction City at the foot of the Grandview bluffs. When the mill opened in 1874, farmers came to Junction City from a radius of 75 miles to get their grists. Farmers would camp around the mill overnight, or as long as it took to process the grain.
                In the summer of 1885, Fogarty built the first electric plant in central Kansas at the site of the Fogarty Dam. The power plant was built in connection with the flour mill which Fogarty owned and operated.
                When MKT railway opened and the southwest route into Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) became a reality, the entire output of the mill could be exhausted in a 24-hour period. The surplus power was used to light the town with electricity. On September 1, 1886, the electric current was turned on and the business houses and streets of Junction City were lighted. The first residence wired for electric lights was the Thomas Hogan home, 302 N. Adams.
                In the 1890s Fogarty secured contracts to supply flour to the government. After his visit to England, France, and Germany in 1899, he began exporting products to other countries.
                On Decmeber 15, 1900 Fogarty sold his electric power plant, lines, and facilities to the Electric Railway, Light, and Ice Company. He died in May 1901.
                In 1905 the Hogan Milling Company was incorporated with Thomas E. Hogan as president. The water power, lights, and the goodwill of the former Fogarty Estate provided opportunity for even greater expansion.
                Two new water wheels were installed as well as the necessary electric machinery and transmission lines to connect the new mill on East Eighth Street. The Hogan Milling Co. was a pioneer in adopting electricity as a means of power.

Hogan’s Mill on East 8th Street
                In 1907 the mill site was moved from the old dam built by Fogarty. Hogan expanded in the direction of producing a better strain of wheat. Through the efforts of Kansas State College at Manhattan, later KSU, Dr. John Parker experimented with wheat and produced the Tenmarq. This wheat is a cross between a hard spring variety, Marquis, and the familiar Turkey, a variety used in this area for many years. Tenmarq flour enabled the mill to produce fancy patent flour, pancake flour, and even self-rising flour. Hogan believed that the success of any product lies in its ability to meet the needs of the time.
                If you have any questions or comments please contact the Geary County Historical Society at 785-238-1666 or email GearyHistory@gmail.com.