Windmill is of Interest
Mr. Graham of Galesburg Writes LetterGalesburg, Ill. November 23, 1929
Editor of Golden New Era:
Of late there has been a great deal said concerning the condition of the old windmill at Golden. I am a conductor running between Galesburg and Quincy, and there is scarcely a time we make during the day time but someone will ask to be shown the windmill when we get to Golden. Just today a lady with her children was on the train enroute from California. On leaving Quincy she said, “Will you please show us the windmill when we get to Golden? My father has told us so much about it and how he used to ride on the wings when he was a boy.” When they saw it they expressed great pleasure but regretted very much to see it passing away and asked if anything was being done to save it, as it was a pity to see an old landmark like that pass out.
Just recently a very distinguished looking old gentleman was on the train enroute to California and about the first thing he asked me was “is the windmill at Golden yet?” I told him it was still there but regretted to have to tell him he would find it in a very bad condition. He told about when he was a boy and of seeing Mr. Emminga hewing the timbers to build the first windmill and the hardships he had in doing it. He told how Mr. Emminga started out with only $6 and about the man that let him have the timber to build it with and pay him when he got the money from the earnings of the mill. He told about his boyhood days near Golden and about the first blacksmith shop and how the blacksmith made everything they had to use in those days. His eyes just sparkled as he told about how they went to the windmill to have their milling done and of the many games and sports they had while they waited their turn to get their meal and flour. He said there were horse races and turkey shooting. Then he laughed and said, “And often a good fist fight too.” He said there were roads leading from all directions to the mill as it was all prairie and the prairie grass was so high you could not see a team of horses going through it. All you could see was the man’s head as he sat on the load.
Someone asked him if they raised much stock in those days and he said, “Stock. Why no. The wolves were too thick you could not raise anything.” As the train neared Golden he pointed out where the first windmill was built and where the old blacksmith shop stood and how the people came from miles about to it.
He said, “There was where we got the news them days.” He said, “Boys, I have not been back in this place for years. It all looks strange to me.” Pointing his finger he said, “I used to have a girl right over there, and she was a real girl too. Not like the ones we have now.” At that he showed signs of sadness. He told about when the war broke out and how he ran away and enlisted in the Army and never saw her again. As he passed the old mill, he just beamed at it and watched it until it was out of sight. His eyes filled with tears as he said, “The old mill brings back fond memories to me.” More than once he expressed regrets of seeing it in that condition. “See most every day where the people throughout the country are building memorials to some old settler or great man, then, why should the people of Golden stand by and let an old landmark like that, a landmark that is known almost the nationwide, pass from them.”
I have talked with a great many people about the old mill and all have expressed regret at seeing it in such a condition and expressed a wish, as I do, that a fund be raised and have the old mill raised and put back as it was and keep it as a monument to Mr. Emminga and the old settlers that endured such hardships in the early days to put the country in the condition it is today.
I am sure you will have no trouble in getting the people interested in a drive to keep the old landmark. Don’t let it go. Keep Golden on the map. Following are a few verses I have composed from the conversation of the old gentleman.
P. W. Graham
THE OLD WINDMILL AT GOLDENThe old mill once charming scene, But it sure looks bad today, Those wings that once so proudly stood, Now are yielding to decay. The places show a lack of care, Things seem all gone to seed, When recently I passed there, The place looked bad indeed. Golden once a busy place, Where business used to glow, At the station where the railroads cross, With the old mill just below. The old mill was busy then, The main stay of the town, The people came from miles about, To have their milling done. In Golden once beside a gate, A blue-eyed maiden stood, The boy for whom she used to wait, Had visions that were good. The rose bud fastened in her hair, Was not more sweet than she, In those days the old mill town, Seemed a charming place to be. The lovely charms that Golden had, Are vanishing from the town, The place is going to the bad, And things are all run down. The maiden no longer waits, For the boy now is old and gray, With memories of the days long gone, When he first met Emminga
Want to know more about Henrich (Henry) Reemts EMMINGA? Click here… Hinrich (Henry) Reemts Emminga
The book, “When the Wind Blows” by Anna Wienke is a valuable resource for learning about the Prairie Mills Windmill. She is the great granddaughter of Henrich Reemts Emminga, and her book can be purchased through the Golden Historical Society, Golden, Illinois.
Restoration and ongoing Fundraising Project
The Prairie Mills Windmill, grinding again since 2002, is the only operating windmill in Illinois with patent sails and has all of its original grinding stones.
Next post in two weeks: History of the Old Windmill by Evelyn Cassens