A Pennsylvanian named O.H. Drinkwater settled in the Cottonwood Valley of Chase County, Kansas. One of the first settlers of this area, he built a cabin along a small stream in the far western part of the county and called it “Cedar”.
A post office was established. Mr. Drinkwater became postmaster and named the town Cedar Point.
After a brief service in the Union army, Mr. Drinkwater returned to Cedar Point and began a partnership with J.P. Crawford. The two men built a log dam across the deeply banked Cottonwood River. Here they built a wooden frame mill used for sawing lumber.
Mr. Crawford withdrew from the saw mill business. With a new partner by the name of P.P. Schriver, who was also from Pennsylvania, Drinkwater began grinding the first flour at the wooden frame Cedar Point Mill to ship to the surrounding areas. Mr. Drinkwater provided the funding for the operations, and Mr. Schriver was a miller by trade.
The mill began operation under the new name of Drinkwater & Schriver.
Drinkwater & Schriver began construction of a stone structure to replace the frame mill.
The three-story stone mill was completed and used stone burrs to grind corn and wheat into flour. At this time, the mill had a capacity of 75 barrels per day and became a familiar place of business throughout central Kansas.
The mill was proclaimed as ”…the largest and finest in Chase County or in this part of the State” and produced flour of a very fine quality that was shipped East and West to points of considerable distance.
The log dam was replaced by one made of stone.
Mr. Schriver became the sole owner of the mill. He replaced the stone burrs that were used for grinding the flour with steel rollers.
After Mr. Schriver’s death, his son, Paul Schriver, takes over operation of the mill. In 1903 Paul Schriver added the wooden frame part of the grain storage bins to the original stone mill building. With that addition the mill had a capacity of 100 barrels per day. Power to grind the flour came from the water wheel or turbine was driven by the current in the Cottonwood River, which ran through the lowest part of the mill. The turbine drove the shaft and pulley system running from the mill’s basement to the third floor, using leather belts connected to the pulleys on shafts.
The mill was purchased by Arnold Brunner from the widow of P.P. Schriver.
The mill produced flour as before. Once again, the mill became an important part of the business community, especially during the Depression of the 1930s. Brunner replaced parts of the machinery during his ownership of the mill. When he first bought the mill, the grinding capacity was about 250 bushels of wheat in 12 hours and the water power from the turbine was about 80 horsepower. As the river began to fill with debris and mud, the pressure of the power decreased and, during the 1930s, the Cottonwood River went dry. Alternate power was used during this time, and Mr. Brunner downsized the amount of machinery and capacity of the mill to only 100 bushels of wheat in 12 hours.
The mill was purchased by Ray Crofoot from Mr. Brunner. Mr. Crofoot was a cattleman and used the mill for grinding feed for his cattle feed yards. The family of Mr. Brunner dismantled the flour mill machines and replaced them with feed grinding equipment for Mr. Crofoot.
Following World War II, the mill was converted to electric power from the water power provided by the Cottonwood River. The mill continued to be operated as a feed mill for cattle until the 1960s. In 1988 the mill was sold to Dr. Bruce Mc Mullen by A.L. “Chub” Pinkston, who succeeded Mr. Crofoot in the ownership of the mill.
With assistance of Barry Linnens, longtime mill champion and owner of Cottonwood Valley Bank, which was started in Cedar Point in 1914, and Dan Clothier, a Kansas native with a history of saving old structures, the School of Interior Architecture of Kansas State University was invited to study the mill, as Dr. McMullen sought redevelopment ideas for the mill. Under the direction of Professor James H. Dubois nineteen students contributed to a fifth year design studio by presenting redevelopment proposals for the mill, which were presented in the Springof 2000.
Professor Dubois’s Design Studio included the preparation of detailed drawings documenting the state of the mill and filing of the drawings with the Historic American Building Survey of the National Park Service. The value of the work done by the KSU students and Professor Dubois to the restoration process, documenting every detail of their work, cannot be overstated. www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ks0201/
Sadly, Professor Dubois passed away. The role Professor Dubois played in saving the mill is much appreciated and will never be forgotten.
The Cedar Point Mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Leading the effort to get the listing approved was Pat Sauble, owner of Sauble Ranch, located just three miles south of Cedar Point. Pat is the grandson of David Sauble, who founded Sauble Ranch in 1856. Pat’s energy and enthusiasm for Chase County and the Cedar Point Mill are infectious. His ninety plus years spent enjoying every day of his life in Chase County provide a treasure trove of stories about every aspect of life in this beautiful part of the world.
Despite these efforts, nothing was ever done to save the mill. By the spring of 2015 the mill had fallen into ruin. Large cracks in the stone above and below the windows on the northeast corner of the mill. Foundation failure had caused a portion of the west wall to fail. Regular flooding and drying had caused the wooden posts and beams supporting the interior structure to rot and the floors closest to the river had sunk more than a foot, causing the floor to pull away from the outer walls. Sometime within the last five years, a large tree fell into one of the dormers on the west side of the stone structure, destroying the dormer and leaving a gaping hole in the roof, which has caused moisture to come into the structure and rot a portion of the second floor. The good news is that the mill’s forty-two inch thick walls on the lower level still rest on solid bedrock Drinkwater & Schriver selected as the site for the mill back in 1871. By and large, the corners of the mill remain fairly true and the stone structure is still relatively level. Other than the many structural issues summarized in the preceding paragraph, the interior of the mill remains in essentially the same condition as it was in 1988.
Present – Dan Clothier, returned to the mill project and formed Drinkwater & Schriver Mill Inc., a Kansas non-profit corporation, for the purpose of purchasing the mill and seeking like-minded individuals and organizations to fund the restoration of the mill.Dan and his wife, Kris, provided the seed money to purchase the mill from Dr. McMullen and to begin the process of saving the mill. In April 2015 Dr. McMullen sold the mill to Drinkwater &Schriver Mill Inc. The process of saving the mill has begun.