Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wheatley Flour Mill

For today, this blog should be called "Lost Canada Found". We are very fortunate that an anonymous someone chose to write some information on the back of this photograph, so that we know that this was taken in Wheatley, Ontario on September 12, 1899.

The original albumen print is extremely faded, but a trip through
Adobe Camera Raw's tools recovered a lot of detail.
Wheatley is a small community of about 3,000 people located on the shore of Lake Erie, just a few miles southeast of Detroit, Michigan.

The text handwritten on the back of the photograph reads:
This "chop & grist" mill is located in Wheatley, Ontario, and was once owned by my grandfather and father (Daniel and William Omstead). They also owned a famr a mile distant. This mill was sold and the mill in Comber purchased in 1903.

I was fortunate to be able to get ahold of Linda Pearce, a member of the Heritage Society in Wheatley, who sent me a clipping on the mill which reads:
The Wheatley Flour Mill was built around 1880 on the east side of Wheatley. Dan Omstead was the owner of the mill in the 1890s. He produced very fine flour at the mill. In 1899 he sold it to Mr. Vizzard. Mr. Wemp owned it next. Cameron Whitesell bought it from Mr. Wemp in 1921.

Engines were changed from natural gas to electric by John Dean in July 1930. The gas engines had exploded, causing a fire, in 1929. Around 1941 he tore down the old mill, built the new one with his own design and set up all his machinery and elevators.

At the back of the old mill they had built a pig pen and hen house where they experimented with their own [feed] formulas. Later they marketed Whitesell's Big 18% laying mash. The formula was made up and tried by Russell Whitesell. When the new mill was made over, they incorporated the existing pig pen and hen house into it.

He sold the mill in 1952 to Mr. Roy Bowman.

A search of several genealogy sites suggests that Daniel Omstead (alternately listed as Olmstead) was born in 1844 and died in Wheatley in November, 1924, an date range which fits the date of the photograph.

Here's a link to Google Maps showing the current location of the Wheatley Grain Elevator, presumably the former site of our photo.

Painted on the side of the building appears to read "Wheatley Flour Mills"

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