Jeremiah Crum Flour Mill
Olex, Oregon
Operating Years 1885 to 1898

Jeremiah Crum began working in a flour mill at the age of 14 and continued until 18 becoming a skilled miller. Going west he operated for 6 to 7 years the first flour mill at Virginia City, Montana, which was the first in the territory.

Continuing West he operated a mill for James Rinehart for five years in Summerville, Oregon. Soon Jeremiah thought he would like living west of the mountains and farmed for eight years in the Willamette Valley near Aurora.

A new vision came in 1882. While traveling along Rock Creek, south of Arlington Jeremiah found a place that would be a good mill site. Jeremiah always wanted to have a mill of his own, he staked out a claim and bargained for five acres on the creek where the water power was good.

After another crop on the farm in Aurora, Jeremiah came and built a house above Rock Creek in the spring of the year. Returning home another crop was harvested  and the farm was sold for $3,000. With Sarah, his wife, and their five children they moved to Olex. The first winter the mill-race was dug from the creek one quarter mile up along the side of the hill. The next summer mill construction began.

The first story or basement was built of rock three feet thick. The rock being hauled one-half mile from Juniper Canyon. The rest of the mill walls were built of concrete, sand, lime and gravel, which was two and on-half feet through. The third story wall was two feet through. It was built one layer at a time; 12 or 14 inches high in a layer all around and was left to dry one day. Being a hot summer it dried quickly. While it was drying other loads of sand and gravel were being hauled and mixed ready for the next day. It took a month for one story to be made. It was all  hauled by one team including the rock.

The next winter they had a carpenter build part of the works inside and put in machinery. It was in the fall of 1885 that the mill began to operate.

There were a number of settlers now and they were raising wheat and bringing the grain to the mill in exchanged for flour. Many came from long distances as it was the only flour mill between Pendleton and The Dalles. At times, the mill ran day and night to supply the demand. The Crum family let a number of people have flour that had no grain or money to pay for the flour, without receiving payment.

In 1898 Typhoid Fever struck at the mill a tragedy causing  many deaths.

Later McKinley, son of Jeremiah and Sara, lived in the house by the mill. It caught fire and burned down one year and McKinley and family lived in a tent while rebuilding the house that is there now. McKinley's son Ramon lived as the last of the Rinehart residents.

When Ramon died in 1996 the place was sold to outside interests and has changed hands several times. The millstones are now in the yard of Larry Crum of Pendleton, Oregon, youngest grandson of McKinley.

 

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