Messer / Mayer Sawmill & Gristmill

Photographed October 22, 2014
Erected by Eagle Scout Project of Michael Knutson
Richfield Historical Park
Richfield, Washington County, Wisconsin
43.263134,-88.255387 (marker location)
43.265699,-88.256073 (entrance to the park)
Google Map

Johann Messer homesteaded in Section 9 in the Town of Richfield in 1847 having emigrated from Hesse Darmstadt, Germany with his wife Charlotte Mayer and their four children. By February 1848, Johann acquired a total of 120 acres. In 1856, Johann Messer constructed a sawmill on his property near Cooney Creek. Then in 1869, approaching the age of 65 years, he made provision for his children. His second eldest son, Andrew, received 27 acres of land that included the sawmill. Recognizing the potential offered by the cash crop, wheat, he began construction of a gristmill in 1871. The mill was barely completed when Andrew was killed in an untimely accident with a horse in 1874. He was just 37 years of age, leaving behind a young widow and small children.

The sawmill and gristmill were purchased from his estate by Johann Georg Mayer, brother to Charlotte Mayer Messer in 1876. The eldest son of Johann Mayer and wife Juliana Mueller, Karl Wilhelm (known as C.W.), purchased the mill and property from his father in 1885 and raised a family of seven and operated the mills until his death in 1919. C.W. Mayer and wife Mary Anna Kurtz's eldest son, George, took over operation of the mills. George and wife, Martha Anna Maurer, raised two children on the property. The sawmill ceased operation in 1930 and stood unused until 1951 when it collapsed. The gristmill continued operation with its E.P. Allis grinding stones, roller mills and sifting equipment until the 1930's. The cattle feed grinding continued until the mid 1950's using the burr mill. But, with the advent of the hammermill, mill clients dropped to three, and the old mill now stood silent. The property remained in the Mayer family for almost 100 yars before George Mayer, the last miller, died in 1973.
The marker is located at Richfield Historical Park. The entrance to the park is located on eastbound Pleasant Hill Road, between Wisconsin Highway 154 (to the west) and Hillside Road (to the east), Richfield, Wisconsin 53076.

This a fabulous property -- scenic, serene, and beautiful, with numerous historical buildings and markers.  One road winds through the park, so it's impossible to miss any of the stops documented on this post.

Richfield Historical Park is owned and managed by the Richfield Historical Society. Currently, the Historical Society is working hard to build a restoration fund to get the historic Messer / Mayer Mill grinding again. Click here to learn more about the Mill's history and the restoration project.

Gosh! Could it have been a more beautiful day!

The beautifully restored Messer / Mayer Mill.

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