The history of Adams Mill is incredibly unique, as are most extant mills today, 2012. Adams Mill is particularly fascinating because the site was designed by John Adams (previously from Pennsylvania) in 1831.
History tells us that he traversed Wildcat Creek from Kokomo to Lafayette to find the best mill site location. John Adams was creative as well as an astute engineer. He found a most interesting characteristic of the Wildcat Creek near today’s town of Cutler, Indiana vicinity. Adams discovered a soon-to-be oxbow lake on the Wildcat Creek.
|When John Adams identified the geographic situation of the Wildcat Creek, he realized he could build a dam, head race, wheel pit, initially a saw mill, and a tail race within the 200-yard span between the creeks almost touching meander. The loop of the Wildcat Creek is about one mile from the dam to the water that is spent back into the creek.
Adams sawmill functioned into the 1840s. His first gristmill was built in 1835. His one set of millstones operated 24-hours-a-day grinding corn and wheat. This first 2-story mill was only 26’ X 34’. Due to so many requests, he built the present mill (2012) in 1845-1846. His large mill has 3 ½ levels with 45’ X 50’ dimensions. He ran 4 sets of millstones powered by two turbines. The two turbines were set in the millrace under the mill. His original, smaller gristmill was no longer in use by 1848.
John Adams died in 1858 and passed his mill on to his son Warren Adams. A covered bridge was built in 1872 to span the Wildcat Creek due to the flooding in the spring.
Warren spent twenty-six years carrying on his father’s mill after John had passed away. Warren grew up and lived his life in the mill business. His success was in great part, due to his father’s keen insight into the mill’s location. Many mills were built in the early to mid-1800s found their buildings short-lived due to lack of water, destruction of floods or decimation by fire. Warren spent his life successfully as a crafted-miller during the heart of the United States industrial expansion in the 1800s. Warren died in 1884.
Levi Bishop purchased Adam’s Mill in 1887 where he used flour rollers instead of grinding millstones. In 1913, Bishop’s son-in-law, Jesse Johnson had acquired the mill and used the turbines power to generate electricity for his mill. Excess of electricity was used to power local houses and the street lights in Cutler.
The flouring roller mills ceased functioning in 1938. The mill was not maintained and fell into poor condition.
Claude Sheets purchased the mill in 1942. He acquired a miller who used to work at Adams Mill, John Pritach. Between 1942 and 1944, Pritach resurrected the roller mills and power house and Adams Mill was once again an ongoing concern until 1952 when new flour processing laws stopped the roller mills.
Claude Sheets enjoyed antiques and used the mill to display his collections. One piece was a Conestoga wagon.
The mill was vacant until 1975 when it was purchased by James Broadhurst. Terry Herman worked for Mr. Broadhurst and organized and identified the antique collections of Mr. Claude Sheets. Subsequently, the mill has been maintained and preserved as an historical museum. Adams Mill was placed into the National Register of Historic Places October 10th, 1984.