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History & Photographs of Kister's Mill 2013
by Bob Carter

The Kister Mill, Millbrook, Wayne Co. Ohio

by Bob Carter

One of the hidden treasures of the water powered milling industry is the Kister Mill in the south western corner of Wayne County.  Located on Kister Road south of State Route 3 the mill is not just an ordinary water powered mill but combines a grist mill, saw mill, planing mill, cider press, machine shop lathe and two custom designed machines for making small wooden flights for wooden augers. 

The first mill built on the spring fed stream was in 1816.  Nineteen year old Jacob Kister walked to the area from Pennsylvania and by 1835 bought three farms in the Millbrook area and the purchase included the sites for three mills. For several years the mill race provided power for a woolen mill, converted from a grist mill.  It was later revamped back to grind grain and in 1894 entirely rebuilt to include its present capabilities.

In 1967 the eighty-three year old Guy Kister, a third generation millwright, built a new wooden 18 foot 6 inch water wheel with 8 spokes, 56 buckets and a 4 foot face to replace an ageing 1925 wheel because he felt no one would have the skills in future years.  Kister died in 1975 and the mill passed to several owners until Richard and Cindi Boyer bought the mill property in 1997.

The aging 30 year old water wheel was in poor shape and Richard Boyer, a tool and die maker  and his carpenter father Arden, with a couple of helpers, built a new one in 2001.  Neither had mill experience but the shadow of Guy Kister was over them. Kister had carefully left behind the guide boards and patterns to guide them in building a new wooden waterwheel.  It was a real challenge but once set in place, it ran perfectly.
A steel pipe flume carries water from the penstock to the head gate which is operated by an ingenious system of overhead piping that has handles at each work station on all three floors to start, stop or regulate water flow over the wheel.

In its milling days it produced roller flour but in his later years before health restrictions set in, Kister produced large amounts of corn meal which was bagged and delivered to local markets by the pickup truck load.  Another product was wooden potato and apple crates. The saw mill was always busy and in the fall, trucks and wagons loaded with apples were lined up along the road waiting their turn at the cider press.

Kister’s father designed and built the two machines that made the many complicated cuts to produce the wooden “flights” for horizontal wooden augers for flour.  Wood was used as flour would stick to steel and these replacement flights were shipped all over the country.  Kister, as a little boy, stood on a wooden box to operate the machine for his father, John Kister.

Everything in the mill is powered by the water wheel that turns a “bull wheel” inside, which then turns the line shaft.  All equipment on all three floors is belt driven from the line shaft.

The mill is not open to the public but tours can be arranged by calling the Boyers at
330 567 0040.  It’s one of those “must see” mills.


Photographs by Bob Carter 2013
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio Exterior
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Roller Mill
Corn Meal Roller Mill.
The hopper is on top which accepts the grain. Here their are two sets of rollers. One roller crushes the gain into meal and the second set of rollers makes the meal finer. The leather belts are attached to the line shaft that is powered by the wooden water wheel. The visible pulleys drive the power of the rollers. On the right of this photograph you can witness elevators that carry buckets of grain up through the mill.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio -  Automatic Bagger
The "automatic"bagger could be set to cut off flow when the bag hit a set weight, 2, 5, 10 or 25 pounds.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Large Bolter
The Kister built bolter is larger than manufactured units and has a fan to remove flour dust.
The unit still has the "silks" for sifting and is encased in a special room on the third floor.

Next to the bolter is the owner of Kister's Mill, Richard Boyer.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Machines to manufacture "flights"
Guy Kister's father, John, designed and built two machines to make the numerous cuts to manufacture wooden "flights."
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Flights
These are the "flights" that the Kister's manufactured and shipped all over the country.
They were made in several sized.
Flights are the wooden paddles that are used in the augers that horizontally move the grains through the milling process.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Wood Foundry Patterns
The wood foundry patterns made by John Kister and a spare auger remain in the mill.
Boyer used several of these to cast new gears for the waterwheel.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio  - 18 Foot Wooden Water Wheel
The 18' 6" wooden water wheel with a 4' face is calculated to produce eleven horsepower.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Exterior Gears Associated at the Exterior with the Wooden Water Wheel
This unusual gear arrangement transmits power from the water wheel to the bull bear
is sheltered beside the wooden water wheel.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Bull Wheel
The water wheel drives the "bull wheel" which drives the line shaft.
The shaft from the bevel gears goes to the saw mill outside.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Saw Mill
The saw mill is outside under a porch like overhang.
Unbelted now for other milling processes, it was a big part of Kister's income.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Planning Mill
The planning mill is still used and could be set up to mill tongue and grove flooring.
Kister's Mill, Millbrook, Wayne County Ohio - Cider Press
This cider press is water powered including the hydraulic cylinder and has been used occasionally.
The cider is given away, it cannot be sold per the local health department.
It's Good !

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