A New Look at Old Middleton – Flour Power

A new look at old Middleton!
One hundred years before “flower power” became a rallying call for America’s youth, Middleton had its own brand of “flour power”. In 1871, two Middleton entrepreneurs built a flour mill to grind wheat into flour and transport it to market by wagon. These men, James Stephenson and J. C. Isaacs, hired Middleton carpenter and stonemason William C. Moore to construct the mill on the side-hill near what is now Dewey Avenue. In 1872, Mr. Stephenson hired S. S. Foote to run the mill.
Mr. Foote had recently moved from California where he had learned the milling business. Mr. Foote, whose descendants still live in Middleton, was born in Connecticut and reached California by way of Cape Horn. The gold mines drew him to Idaho, but milling kept him here. By 1885, he was the owner of the mill.
The water-powered mill got its power from the Middleton Mill Ditch, which ran from the Boise River east of Star into the town. The mill served local farmers as well as those from as far away as Umatilla and Jordan Valley, Oregon. It included a two-story mill building and a granary for storing wheat prior to grinding. The lower level contained the stone grinding burrs; flour was bagged on the upper level. A long chute carried bags of flour from the second floor down to a storage area where they were loaded onto wagons and hauled to market. Rumor has it, that chute was also a source of mischievous recreation for young boys when the miller wasn’t watching.
The business was very successful, and Mr. Foote was interested in expanding his shipping opportunities. A railroad spur line was planned for Middleton, but construction was delayed, so Mr. Foote dismantled his buildings and reassembled them in Caldwell to take advantage of railroad shipping. The mill operated there for six years, but burned to the ground in 1905. He and his family returned to Middleton where he began to develop real estate holdings. In a sad piece of historic irony, the promised spur line was completed through Middleton in 1902 and ran right through the Foote property, not 100 yards from the original site of the mill.
Traveling north on Dewey, you can see a sign on the east side of the road marking the location of the entrance to the former mill site. It can be argued that Middleton’s “flour power” lasted longer than the “flower power” that began in California 100 years later.
– Information provided by Dennis and Claudia Moberly

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