By CINDY LADAGE
CUTLER, Ind. — Adams Mill was built in 1845-46 and has stood the test of time. This beautiful mill, which could be inspiration for any rural landscape painting, was once a gristmill that produced assorted grades of flour, for more than 100 years.
Adams Mill, now a museum, was known for finely-ground specialty cake flour. Visitors can see flour sacks with the names Good Luck, Made Right and Wedding Cake, just a few of the brand names that adorn a wall of the mill.
It operated up until 1952 and while the machinery is still intact, it was also operational until a 2003 flood. Al Auffart, of the museum, said the mill was built by a John Adams.
“He bought the property and in 1831, he built a sawmill, and in 1834 he built his first gristmill on Wildcat Creek. This spot is geographically good. The gristmill was built where there is a natural flow of water,” Auffart explained.
According to mill history, Adams walked along the Wildcat Creek from Lafayette toward what would become the site of Kokomo, to find a suitable site for his mill. He chose this location because of the oxbow bend at this point in the creek. The dam was built upstream and feeds a millrace that turned turbines to power the mill.
Auffart explained that Adams’ first mill was torn down in 1845 to build the current one. The mill is built in the time-honored tradition of post and beam construction common among many agricultural structures in Indiana at the turn of the century. When entering the mill, visitors may admire the beautiful hand-hewn timbers that hold the framework together with shaved wooden pegs.
“I think the timber was all cut locally,” Auffart said. “I think the posts, beams and joists are made from walnut, oak and poplar.”
A town called Bolivar built up around the mill. “The town was plotted in 1837 and lasted until the 1870s, when the railroad came through; then, Cutler was built,” he explained.
Besides the mill and Americana Museum inside it, the area is also a natural area where visitors hike, fish, canoe and camp. The nonprofit organization Adams Mill, Inc. offers dry camping in three cabins and rents out the area for weddings and festivals.
There are a few picturesque items outside the mill; there is a 1953 Ford that sits in front of a building that may eventually be made into an office. There is also a turbine wheel that, while lovely, is just for show – since this mill was operated on the turbines where the water flows across it.
“This was private property until last September,” Auffart said. “Then it was sold to a nonprofit organization. It is a work in progress and it is truly historic. The organization is restoring the museum a little at a time.”
The mill was previously owned by Claude Sheets, who had accumulated many collectible items, including a rare Conestoga wagon. His collection has allowed the mill to also serve as a museum filled with an array of agricultural implements and tools. Blacksmith tools most likely came from the shop that was once across the street. The cleaners, grinding floor and grist items are educational and the guide takes the visitor through the grinding process.
Over the years the building had many uses. It once housed the Wildcat Masonic Lodge 311 and the Wildcat Post Office opened in 1850 on the second floor. For a short time it also served as a school – all of these went on while the mill was actively grinding grain into flour.
The mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open mid-April through mid-October Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 p.m., or by appointment. Call 765-268-2530 or log onto www.adams-mill.org for details. Ask directions before heading out; GPS is not always accurate for this location.