A Look at the Dayton Flour Mill in 1880

David Green

The 1880 census had a special schedule listing businesses. Among those listed in La Salle county was the flour mill of D. Green and Son. David Green, the second son of the patriarch, John Green, had been associated with a number of the family businesses – the woolen mill, the store, but most particularly the grist mill, as seen in this advertisement.

Ottawa Free Trader, Nov. 22, 1873

Here is the flour mill, as described in the 1880 census of manufacturers:
Owner: D. Green & Son
Capital invested in the business: $10,000
Number of employees: 2, both males over 16
Greatest number employed at any one time: 2
Number of hours in ordinary work day: 10
Daily wage for skilled worker: $2.50
Daily wage for ordinary laborer: $1.00
Total wages paid for the year: $110
In operation 1/2 time only: 6 months
Idle: 6 months
Number of runs of stone: 4
Estimated maximum capacity per day in bushels: 550
Do you do custom work or make only for a market? If the former, what proportion of your product is custom grinding? 4/5
Is there an elevator connected with your establishment? No

If water power is used –
On what river or stream? Fox river, flows to Illinois
Height of fall in feet: 18

Wheels –
Number: 5
Breadth in feet: 4
Horsepower: 150

Materials –
Number of bushels of wheat: 400
Value: $480
Number of bushels of other grain: 1500
Value: $600
Value of mill supplies: $20
Total value of all materials: $1100

Products –
Number of barrels of wheat flour: 80
Number of barrels of rye flour: none
Number of barrels of buckwheat flour: 500
Number of pounds of barley meal: none
Number of pound of corn meal: 1000
Number of pounds of feed: 6000
Number of pounds of hominy: none
Total value of all products: $1500

This is a typical example of a local mill where farmers within a radius of five to ten miles brought their own grain, taking home ground meal or flour minus a percentage called the miller’s toll. This was known as custom grinding, and 80 percent of the Dayton mill’s work fell in that category. For the remaining 20 percent, where grain was purchased, the resulting flour was sold at retail prices in their store.

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