Old Wild Rose Mill generates many memories

Jerry Apps
The old Wild Rose Mill generates many memories from the boyhood of Jerry Apps.

Every old building has a story to tell. The old mill at Wild Rose is one of them.

Francis Strong built  the mill in 1873 and it served farmers in the Wild Rose area for many years. In 1904 Ed Hoaglin re-developed the mill, including expanding the size of the millpond and adding a steel flume and penstock. The mill was always water-powered.

In 1908, a water-powered generator was added and the village of Wild Rose had electricity, decades before those living on the nearby farms had electric power. 

For years, the mill was a social center for farmers who waited for their grist to be ground. As a kid, I often rode with my father to the mill, joining the farmers who sat in the little mill office, which was heated by a wood stove.

It was here where I learned how the crops, the corn and the oats and the alfalfa in the community were doing. It was here where I heard stories—so many stories. Stories of winters past, which were always more fierce than the current one.

“You throw a pail of water out of the house and it freezes before it hits the ground.”  Summers so hot “You could fry an egg on a flat stone.”

Today the old mill has closed, but the memories remain. The village of Wild Rose now owns the building and they are raising money to restore it. If you are interested in donating to “The Wild Rose Milling Company Restoration Project,” send your check to:

Village Clerk, Village of Wild Rose, PO Box 292, Wild Rose, Wisconsin 54984

I’ve sent in my check.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When you tear down an old building, you lose a piece of history.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to