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The Old Grist Mill

One of the oldest landmarks in the village and its vicinity was the old Grist Mill, (Citizens Elevator) which was located on the southeast bank of the Thornapple River. (Where Good Time Pizza is currently) The original land on both sides of the river was surveyed by John R. Pettibone, who received a Land Grant from the government on February 15, 1836, for the W 1/2 of N W 1/4 of U. S. Patent not recorded. A partition deed was given to A. Voorhees, S. Pettibone and Lyman Pettibone in 1846, but they were not recorded until 1880. Several other members of the Pettibone family were given Warranty deeds to various pieces of the land. These deeds seemed to have been passed back and forth among members of the family until 1851, apparently to clear up title and settle legal questions and descriptions to the unrecorded sections.

In June 1855, Hiram Hanchett and wife, who previously had purchased the land on the west side of the river and erected a prosperous sawmill, bought the south part of the W 1/2 of N W 1/4 south of the river and deeded it to Charles Hanchett in July of 1885. During all these years there was a brush and sand dam across the river, furnishing power to the sawmill. Many of the boards sawed during those early years furnished lumber for the first buildings in Nashville. The first road into town from the north crossed the river over the old wooden bridge located just above this dam. The grist mill on the east side of the river was built in 1881 by Peter Holler, who operated it for a few years and then sold it to Henry Feighner. Over the next few years, ownership passed through a succession of Feighners, Bairs, Johnsons and Barbers. In April of 1907, it was purchased by Frederic Louis Kyser and his wife, Marcia, for the sum of $2,500, and became known as the Nashville Roller Mills. It was about this time that the present cement dam was constructed.

In 1916 the mill was purchased by Louis Lass and son Otto B. J. Lass. They also purchased a small parcel of land on the west side of the river just above the dam and erected their home. Along with the manufacture of hundreds of barrels of flour, the fall of the year was busy in the making of cider and apple butter. During all these years, the flour mill and cider press was run by water power.

In October 1946 the mill property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Ira James Rizor, who converted it from a flour mill to a Feed and Grain Elevator and electric motors were installed to use instead of the slower water power.

At this time part of the old wooden gears and pulleys and shafts were replaced. They continued the cider making for several years, but discontinued this service when the cement block portion of the building was added. In 1960  the Rizors sold the mill to the citizens Elevator, Inc. of Vermontville.

Except for a brief period during World War II, the "Old Grist Mill" was in continuous operation for better than a century.