Frederick W. Stock

F.W. wasn't the first to own the mill on the corner of Ferris and Cook Streets, nor was he the last. Yet most long-time citizens of Hillsdale will always refer to it as "Stock's Mill." When F.W. purchased the Mill in 1869 it was in bad shape. But he found Hillsdale delightful and enthusiastically committed himself to improving the mill. He cleaned and deepened the mill race, the narrow, walled runway that carried water from the St. Joe River to turn the wooden paddle wheels that powered the giant millstones. Within eight years all the machinery was replaced, and F.W. had developed  "Stock's Patent Flour," which was consistently smooth and pure.

F.W. invested in flour mills in Ohio and Iowa before settling in Hillsdale. Once here, he developed all the support systems that his mill required. Besides improving the mill race, which can still be seen behind the Stock houses on Broad Street, he laid two rail lines to handle the 23,000 bushels of wheat he shipped each year. A cooperage shop next to the mill manufactured barrels, and a Western Union Telegraph office built on the premises accommodated the steadily expanding business around the world. 

The family business had reached a pinnacle when, in 1883 and 1884, three of the Stock children died. Mrs. Wilhelmina Stock, shattered by the sudden loss, threw herself into creating a large park in the lowlands behind her house, which she called "Willow Park." From the beginning it was open to the public and became known as Mrs. Stock's Park. 

In 1957 Stock's Mill was sold out of the family by Harold, F.W.'s grandson, marking the end of an long era.


JoAnne P. Miller