The Keyser Mill                By Chandice Dilmore and Buddy Senterfitt


 

 


Mill image     The story about Keyser Mill began in the town of New Kent, Virginia when Charles Clanton Keyser met Mary Fleming Smith.  They married a year after they let on June 6, 1900. Mary’s grandfather owned a grist mill in Pensacola so they moved there.  The flu  became very severe during the war of 1918, and Charles Keyser wanted to move his family to a safer area.  He bought forty acres of land and built a new house near Pensacola.

 

     Mr. Keyser moved his family again in November, 1925.  He bought 80 acres of land in the triangle between Galliver, Milligan and Baker.  This area is now known as Keyser Mill Road.  The mill he bought had been used as a cane mill. It was also used for making shingles and barrel staves.  At the time he bought the mill, the site was used as a sawmill.

 

     When Mr. Keyser bought the site, the mill house was located over the flood gates and the water wheel was in the middle of the swiftly flowing stream.  Logs were brought to the mill by teams of oxen.  The logs were either delivered to the mill by rolling them through a clearing to the mill or floating them in a pond.

     In 1925, people could have their corn and whole wheat ground at the Keyser Grist Mill.  The mill was operated by a water-powered wheel propelled by the moving stream.  The wheels were horizontal with a vertical shaft attached to the upper millstore.  This moved over the stationary bottom stone, slowing grinding the grain.

 

     The Keyser Mill was “A Famous Old Working Mill” which served local farmers around Baker for more than a hundred years.  It was one of America’s oldest continually operating water powered grist mills. However, the mill could not withstand the powerful storm of 1934, when the flood washed it away.

 

     After Mr. Keyser’s wife died in 1934, he sold the land and moved to Pensacola and worked for the National Youth Administration as a Machinist Instructor.  His son Charles Renshaw stayed in Baker and lived alone in the Keyser home.  Today, if you walk down the creek on Keyser Mill Road, you are still able to see some of the logs which were once part of the mill.


Baker Block Museum Educational Services. 2008. Baker, Florida