A real photo postcard showing the Old Quaker Mill near Purcell. The mill was not rebuilt after the 1921 fire.
The Quaker Mill, located 7 miles northeast of Webb City, was destroyed by fire in May 1921.
The fire was believed to have been caused by an overheated bearing in the separator on the third floor. The separator had been left running after mill workers had left for the evening. The Webb City Fire Department was called to the scene but was delayed by engine trouble.
According the an article in the Joplin Globe, the original Quaker Mill was constructed in 1838. “The 1883 History of Jasper County” reported that Wilber Fisk Haughawout, who arrived in 1867, was interested in purchasing the Roller Mills located on the site of the old Quaker Mills. At this time, the mill was producing 150 barrels of flour per day.
The cost of the mill was $50,000, and the running expenses were $1,000 per month.
The mill shown in the accompanying photograph was built in 1882 by John M. Slaight. It was a four-story frame structure, painted white, with a flag pole on top, which flew the American flag. The construction of the mill cost $30,000 and was entirely new, with nothing from the old mill being used in its construction. The new mill was connected by telephone to Webb City. Two different grades of flour, Camelia and Snow-Drop were offered for sale.
As well as serving the community as a mill, Quaker Mill was the site of community picnics and fishing trips, with reports of large catfish being caught and duck hunting excursions to the Quaker Mill pond.
Until recent years, there was the Quaker Mill convenience store near the site of the old mill. Quaker Mill Park, across the road, served as a community park, with camping, swimming, fishing and picnicking, just as it was in days gone by. But it is now closed, too.