Bear’s Mill was purchased and completed in 1849 by Mr. Gabriel Baer, a prominent miller from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, we don’t know many details about Gabriel’s life. We’re not exactly sure why he chose milling as his profession in the first place or how he ended up at this particular waterway in western Ohio, but we’re certainly glad he did. What Gabriel began as a simple method of commerce has become a symbol of American spirit. We believe Bear’s Mill, through the innovative details of her structure and design, tells the story of the American Dream.
In 1849 the Industrial Revolution was in full force in the United States. Americans from all walks of life were benefiting from an increase in job opportunities and entrepreneurs were creating methods of production that were unimaginable only years before. This period in our history was about much more than “industry,” however. It was also an amazing period of human creativity. During this time, art, craft and spirit collided with commerce in a way that resulted in spectacular working monuments to humanity and progress. Bear’s Mill stands today as a prime example.
The structure and engineering of Bear’s Mill’s framework is nothing less than spectacular. The hand-hewn timber framework is the original — some fifty feet long without a single splice — and the complex inner workings that carry grain from floor to floor to be cleaned, stored and ground are 100% water powered. The pieces and parts that work together to make this place function as a tool for industry are beautiful in their simplicity and empowering in their strength. Together they stand as a testament to the vision, tenacity and dedication to quality Gabriel Baer must have possessed to make his dream become a reality.
Gabriel Baer sold the Mill in 1862 and from that time, it passed through the hands of many caretakers. Although some may have been more dedicated about maintaining the structure than others, Bear’s Mill’s exquisite original framework is not only still standing, which is an amazing fact on its own, but the inner workings of the mill are still functional – a tribute to their original design. The dream of an American entrepreneur that began over 160 years ago with nothing more than natural resources and a spirit to succeed remains in existence today.
That fact is what keeps us pushing forward every day to make sure that this piece of history remains alive and functioning for generations to come. Today, we share Bear’s Mill with as many people as possible. We fill her with art and the spirit of creativity. And we utilize our natural resources to create product for all to enjoy.
To us, that’s Gabriel’s legacy. It’s the real American Dream. And its something that we’ll always strive to continue.