History: Greenwood, Wis. Roller Mills

Contact: janet@wiclarkcountyhistory.org


Surnames: Foster, Shrimpton, Bailey, Palmer, Hartson, Bowen, Wollenberg


----Source: Greenwood Gleaner (Greenwood, Wis.) 1900 - 1903



Greenwood Roller Mills

Greenwood, Clark Co., Wisconsin



---STRAIGHT FLOUR, manufactured at our Greenwood mill from the best wheat only, every sack guaranteed.  For sale at the Big Store.


The above ads appeared in the Greenwood Gleaner, February 2, 1900.

Greenwood Gleaner Ad [July 23, 1903]



In the fall of 1899, Nathaniel C. Foster of Fairchild, the railroad magnet for whom Foster township was named, erected the "Greenwood Roller Mills" (pictured below).  It opened for operation in the spring of 1900, with thirty year old Franklin W. Shrimpton as chief miller and operations manager. Frank learned the skills from his father, an immigrant from England, who was an experienced miller in De Kalb, Illinois.  The Shrimptons were a hard working, well respected family.  Frank married shortly after acquiring his position at the mill.  Edward T. Bailey served as engineer.  In 1902, when it was incorporated under the title of the Greenwood Roller Mill Co., with N.C. foster as President; G. A. Foster, Secretary and Treasurer, and F. W. Shrimpton, Business Manager. 


In March of that same year, the newly wed twenty-three year old, Levi Palmer of Loyal, Wisconsin took a position with the company, but later that summer resigned.  For a time in 1916, Henry Hobart Hartson, who twice owned and edited the Greenwood Gleaner, managed the Greenwood Roller Mills and became part owner.  In 1918, Erastus Bowen was president and Edward F. Wollenberg was secretary and treasurer of the Mills.  The company was listed in the 1926 business directory of the city. 


This mill undoubtedly did a larger and more extensive business than any mill in the county, being extensive purchasers and shippers of all kinds of grain, besides making wheat, buckwheat, rye and graham flour, and also doing an enormous custom grinding business.  It was equipped with five double roll stands and three pair of feed rolls, all of which were operated by a sixty-five horsepower steam engine, and was is in continuous operation the year around.  The interior of the mill was usually clean and appealing to customers and visitors.  The mill was widely known all over Clark County and its reputation became more widely known with each passing year. It eventually became a Stock Company Mill before the property was eventually sold.


Employees--If you can add to this list, please contact us.


1900--Edward T. Bailey (engineer)

1900-Frank W. Shrimpton

1900--Levi Palmer

1910-Walter Stabnow

1916--Henry Hobart Hartson

1918--Erastus Bowen

1918--Edward F. Wollenberg


Greenwood Roller Mill

Photo Courtesy of Tim Plunkett.


Panoramic View of Greenwood (1909)


Greenwood Roller Mills, 1926 ca.

Photo Courtesy of the Noah Family Collection.


Published Clips


Levi Palmer of Loyal began Monday as helper in the new flour and grist mill. Greenwood Gleaner 3-9-1900.


Frank W. Shrimpton is taking a two weeks’ lay off for a visit with his people in Salem, Neb.  Greenwood Gleaner 5-4-1900.


Levi Palmer has resigned his position in the Greenwood Roller Mills, and in company with his father moved a few miles south of Stanley, where they have bought land and timer, purposing to run a saw mill. Greenwood Gleaner 8-24-1900.


Better Than Logs--The Greenwood Roller Mills Mean New Impetur to Farming.

After delays in waiting for cuts we are able in this issue to give a short description of the Greenwood Roller Mills, which has now been running over three months. Without a doubt this is one of the best investments that has ever been made in this city. Not that is will employ as many men or represents as large an investment as some other industries, but because it is a permanent institution that will help more than is easily realized to develop the farming interests of the entire county. It insures a ready cash market for those who will raise grain to sell. And those who raise grain for their stock will always be sure of coming to Greenwood and being able to get their grist ground.

The mill, elevator and engine room measures 36x110 ft. The mill and elevator are combined under one roof, each measuring 36x40 ft. The whole is four stories high with a cupola added. A basement extends under the entire building. Running through the entire length of this is the main line shafting which connects directly with the engine in the engine room. By belting with this shafting power is furnished for all the machines in the mill. Here are the 23 pair of elevator boots or bottoms of elevator shafts whch carry the grain and products of the mill to the various places as needed. A long conveyor with an auger like machine inside carries the grain from the bins to the elevator spouts preparatory to grinding. Besides these the basement contains a Western cornsheller, a Bison crusher for crushing corn and the cob together for feed where desired. There are also four large bins for receiving different grains from the farmers and one large one to receive grain from the car before it is carried to the elevator.

Coming up to the first floor are the five double stand 7x18 Wolf roller mills which do all the wheat grinding, the highest grades coming from the fifth set of rolls. A Wolf feed roller, 9x18, three pair of rolls high, does the feed grinding. An interesting machine in this room is the Imperial flour packer, which packs and weighs the flour in 25, 49, 98, 140 and 196 lb. sacks. The mill is supplied with three sets of scales, so that every particle of grain coming in, or to be ground is weighed out and all accounted for. In this room are the feed spouts, from which is drawn any finished product of the mill, as wanted . Farmers' grists are received on the north of the mill, where they are emptied through gates into bins on the inside. The first floor of the elevator is used for a store room for flour and feed. Here are levers which throw the grain from the bins above to any part of the mill, thus saving much time and climbing of stairs.

On the secord floor are lines of shafting which connects with the machinery above. Besides storage bins on this floor, there are two Wolf purifiers for taking impurities out of wheat middlings; a Richmond brand and a shorts duster for finishing brand and shorts. It takes an expert to get around in this room so full of machinery, bins, etc., is it.There is not a foot of room wasted. In fact this could be said of the entire mill. A fan in this room draws the hot air from the rolls below, and discharges it into sets of automatic tabular dust collectors. A cookie machine up toward the ceiling cleans the wheat of that foreign element. A 60 bushel hopper scale weights the wheat as it come from the bins before grinding.

One of the old centrifugal reels is also at work on this floor and is used for finishing the lowest grade of flour. A shaker screen is also in this room, used for cleaning oats and other grain for feed. Near by is a shaker sieve for handling corn meal. There is also another set of tubular dust collectors in this room.

In the fourth story is the line shafting to drive the elevators. All the elevator heads, except three larger ones that run up into the cupola, are here. In the cupola are, besides the elevator heads mentioned, two large storage bins for feeding the grain to the cleaning machine. The fourth floor leads into the elevator proper where are twenty bins holding 1,000 bushels of grain each. In the top of this building is a turn table arrangement by which grain is sent into any of the twenty bins from the car outside. This can be done by the operator from down stairs by simply turning a lever, this saving hundreds of steps, to say nothing of time.

The operators of the mill are F. W. Shrimpton, head miller: Levi Palmer, assistant miller: E. T. Bailey, engineer. Speaking of the engineer we must not forget to mention the domain where he holds sway. The engine room is solid brick, 30x36 feet and one story high. This is divided by a brick wall, the first room containing the large boilers which furnish the steam for the engines and for heating purposes. In the second room is a 75 horse power Westinghouse automatic engine, taking but little room, but powerful nevertheless. A Worthington duplex steam pump pumps all the water used about the premises. The electric lights for the entire building are furnish by a Westingthouse dynamo.

The machinery for the mill was put in entirely by the Wolf Mfg. Co. of Pennnsylvania, and is considered the best that money can buy. The firm is noted for the quality of the machinery they put out. They have funrnished some of the largest and best mills throughout the United States.

In this connection it will be of interst to our readers to know something of the man who is back of this enterprise and who also is showing his faith in Greenwood and vicinity by backing the Big Store.These are only beginnings, for he has large plans yet to be developed, all of which will help to build up the town and make it a more important trading point. While he is no man to pose before the public, we are able , throught the kindness of the Mississippi Lumbermen publishers, to give a likeness of N. C. Foster, and also some facts regarding the man that are not generally known.

Not because he has been a leader among great lumbermen, but because he has been a leader in this better way, N. C. Foster, of Fairchild, Wis., is noted among men who have cut down forest. It was a quarter century ago that he came to the little cutting in the woods of the southeastern corner of Eau Claire county, called Fairchild and located to live and pursue the profession lumbering which he had learned in his native town of Tioga, N. Y. One of the first ventures of Mr. Foster in this little town was the erecton of a hotel large enough to accommodate the ambitions of a much larger town. The next year, 1876, he started a store and also built his first saw mill which was burned five years later as was its successor after five years of service. In 1887 the saw mill was erected which with amendments and additions stands at the present day.

With a foresight long enough to see through the woods and into the clearings beyond, Mr. Foster picked up timber lands tributary to his mill sufficient to last it at the present speed to the year 1915. But this was not the end of his vision. The land from which he cuts his timber is fit for farming. Twenty years ago he built a grain elevator and began buying from farmers. A flour and feed mill seemed a good adjunet to the elevator and that was built.

The town had no good public hall, so Mr. Foster built a little opera house to help things along.

These activities were not sufficient to engage Mr. Foster's surplus energy. Directly west from Fairchild was a territory lying in the north of three counties, quite undeveloped because of the remoteness from railway privileges. He rolled up his sleeves and built a road through this section, much to the joy of the settlers and to his own profit, for he sold it the next year to the Northwestern line at a handsome advance. It has also proven a good feeder to his mill. With the railroad money in his pocket he turned and extended his logging road northeast far up into his Clark county timber. This road now reaches Greenwood in Clark county, thirty miles away, and with its branches is forty-five miles long. Greenwood being an uncommonly thrifty town, it seemed good to Mr. Foster to establish there a flour mill during the past year, and also a general merchandise store. The Fairchild general store has developed into one of the largest and best equipped department stores to be found outside the great cities. The Greenwood store is founded on the same large plan.

Thus far this sketch has mentioned only N. C. Foster as the sole force behond all these operations nor has his motive in diversifying his interests and planning for a second generation of enterprises been named. The explanation of this is found in a family of seven of whom Mr. Foster is the father. It is only fair also to say that his three sons, now in the early prime of life, are in a great measure to be credited with the success of Mr. Foster's multiplied industries. These sons, Edward J., Gilbert A. and Willard are member of the N. C. Foster Lumber Co., a corporation made up of the family only, and owning all the interests mentioned, besides a line of retail yards, farms and other odds and ends of valuable stuff. The conpany's work is under three divisions, merchandise and milling, lumbering and railroading. The first is in the immediate hands of Gilbert, the second is in charge of Edward, the third, will probably be conducted by Willard, now serving his apprenticeship, while the father, now 66 years of age, is active commander-in-chief of the whole.

The country in which Mr. Foster has operated and in which he has planned that his posterity shall continue to operate, has no cause for quarrel with him. The wealth of the forests he has mown down has enriched the very ground on which they stood: and so far as human eye can now see, will remain as a permanent investment for an indefinite period.  Greenwood Gleaner, Friday, April 13, 1900



I enjoyed the picture and article of the Greenwood Roller Mills.  It must have been built just when my Dad Don Warner was a baby.   Always remember how there was a big mill stone down in the field sort of southwest of the Schofield House...no doubt Schofield farm land.  As kids we explored all over the area & loved going to the Rips, etc., but that big millstone was fascinating.  I wonder what happened to it.  In the recent picture from down on the south end of Greenwood...noticed a big mill/factory type bldg. over near the Schofield house, & would guess the mill stone came from there?   Norma Telford


Related Links


Bio: Palmer, Levi

Bio: Palmer, Levi (9-Mar-1900)

Bio: Shrimpton, Franklin




Duane Horn & Janet Schwarze.



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