A traditional song sung by many barbershop quartets over the years is Down by the Old Mill Stream”. The song was written by Tell Taylor in 1908. The lyrics go like this:
My darling I am dreaming of the days gone by,
When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky;
Your hair has turned to silver, the gold has faded too;
But still I will remember, where I first met you.
The old mill wheel is silent and has fallen down,
The old oak tree has withered and lies there on the ground;
While you and I are sweethearts the same as days of yore;
Although we’ve been together, forty years and more.
Down by the old mill stream where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.
Today’s story is about a mill that existed in Perry County long before the 1900’s. In fact, it was in existence when the German immigrants arrived in 1839. At about the time when they arrived, the mill was being bought by Charles Ingram. He died in 1843. The next owner was John Wilkinson, who lived on the Mississippi River in the old town of Seventy-Six, Missouri. It then became known as the Wilkinson Mill. It was supposedly a grist mill as well as a saw mill.
In the 1860’s, there was an effort made to have a covered bridge built across the Apple Creek near the mill. We have no record of whether it was actually built or not. By 1915, the land where the mill was located was owned by Benjamin Hecht.
Here is another photo taken at the old mill. It is believed to have been taken at a Hecht wedding celebration in 1903.
Nowadays, it is difficult to even tell where a mill once stood at this location. There are still stories floating around about it though. The mill pool was said to be a good place to do some fishing.
The photo seems to indicate that the Hechts were singing down by the old mill stream before the song was written.