The Prairie Mills

Golden, Illinois

The “Custom Mill”

This photo shows the “Custom Mill,” the first of three windmills built by Mr. H. R. Emminga.  The 1872 Adams County Atlas map below shows the location of the Custom Mill.


Mr. Emminga and his family arrived in Golden in February 1852.   Soon after building his house and barn, construction began on the Custom Mill.  He completed it on June 5, 1854.  Emminga was 25 years old at its completion.


Shipment of the grindstones for the Custom Mill posed unique challenges.  The grindstones came from a quarry in the Eiffel region in Germany.  They were shipped by boat to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River to Quincy.  Since the railway between Golden and Quincy wasn’t complete until 1855, Mr. Emminga used a specially-built oxen cart and ten oxen to carry the millstones from Quincy to Golden.  It took four days on dirt roads to make the 60-mile round trip.


In 1860, Mr. Emminga rebuilt the windmill on top of the building shown.  This raised the sails 12 feet to catch the wind better.  He operated it until 1863 when he sold it his wife’s uncle, John Franzen.  Except for a five-year period between 1870-1875 when Peter Osterman operated it, the Franzen family owned and operated the Custom Mill until the mid-1920s and specialized in buckwheat grinding.

In latter years, a gasoline engine replaced wind as the power source.  The Franzens sold the mill in the 1930s to Henry Bruns who razed it in 1934.


The approximate current address for the location of the Custom Mill is

2470 E 2700th St


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Location of the “Prairie Mill”

Location of the “Custom Mill”