People Who Made History at the Mill

A Part of Many Families

R.C. "Uncle Dick" Finley built the first mill at the Falls of the Calapooia in 1847, and a second mill above the first a few years later. He saw an opportunity to gain more business by locating a third mill on the valley floor to intercept a pack train going to the southern gold fields. Boston Mills was built 1856-58 in partnership with P.V. Crawford and Alex Brandon. This mill burned in October 1862 and was immediately rebuilt. Before these mills, settlers had to take their wheat to Oregon City to have it ground.

Richard Chism Finley, 1814-1892

Photo Courtesy Linn County Museum, Brownsville

Alexander Brandon [1826-1904], a carpenter by trade, used his skills helping to build Boston Mills. In 1866, Crawford and Brandon sold their share of the mill to William Simmons. No photo available of Alexander Brandon.

P.V. "Phil" Crawford, a millwright, joined Finley and Alex Brandon to build Boston Mills. Boston Mills was built while Oregon was still a territory, 1856-58. It was the third flour mill built by pioneer R. C. "Uncle Dick" Finley and his partners P.V. Crawford and Alex Brandon. Boston Mills went into operation in 1858, and until recently was operating under the name of Thompson's Mills.


P.V. "Phil" Crawford & Family
Click on the image or the link to see a larger view which includes names and birthdates of the family members.
Photo Courtesy William C. Dunlap

William "Uncle Billy" Simmons came to America from London, England in 1856. He was a miller by trade. He worked in Springfield, met and married Mary there. He bought-out the interest of Brandon and Crawford in Boston Mills in 1866 and with other members of the family, operated Boston Mills until Thompson bought out Finley in 1891.

Mary Simmons was born in Scotland and came to America with her family when she was one year old. She married Simmons in Springfield in 1859 bringing several children by previous marriage.
Both Simmons photos Courtesy Karl Arnold

William Simmons, Jr.
1836 -- 1909

Mary Simmons
1825 -- 1903

At various times the following members of the Simmons family were at Boston Mills: William Simmons, Sr. [1806-1881] and his wife, Sarah Simmons [1813-1889]. These are the parents of William Simmons, Jr. and his two brothers: Alfred A. Simmons and Edwin James Simmons, both of whom were part owners of Boston Mills for a time. All these family members were from London, England. Photos are not currently available.

Sophia Thompson, 1853 - 1928
Martin Thompson, 1846 - 1910
Martin Thompson came to America from Schleswig-Holstein in 1870. He was a miller and millwright by training.

Sophia came to America from Mecklenburg in 1870. She met and married Martin in Iowa.

In 1891, Martin Thompson bought R.C. Finley’s share. In 1897 he completed payment to Simmons and became sole owner of Boston Mills. Martin converted the mill to use roller milling machinery and operated the business until his death in 1910.


Photo Courtesy Martin E. Thompson, Sr


O. M. (Ott) Thompson, 1883 -- 1965

In 1910 at the death of his father, Martin, Otto "Ott" took over the operation of Boston Roller Mills. Ott made many significant improvements to the mill. During World War I, Ott ran the mill 24 hours a day.

When Ott passed away in 1965, his son Myrle assumed management of Thompson's Mills. By this time a warehouse at Shedd had been built and was a significant shipping and receiving point for grain.


    Myrle Thompson, 1909 -- 1982

Myrle continued to run the mill until his retirement in 1974. The mill then left the Thompson family. The mill had remained in the Thompson family for 85 years: Martin Thompson purchasing it in 1891, running it till 1910. His son Ott ran it until his death in 1965. Then Ott’s son, Myrle ran it from 1965 through 1974 when he retired and sold the mill. Boston Mill Society president Martin E. Thompson, Sr. is a grandson of the first Thompson owner.


Merlene and Dave Babits did custom milling and operated an hydroelectric plant, until the mill was sold to Oregon State Parks in 2004.
 

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