Damaged, destroyed 1930s.
(1870 - 1913) Wheat
(1869 - 1870)
Henry Brockman, Sr.
Henry Brockman, Sr. (1869 - ?)
Henry Brockman, Jr. (? - 1930s)
Although plenty of photographs of this windmill exist, little is known about its past. It is known that Henry Brockman, Sr. brought windmill plans and help with him when he came to America and established his property near Lawrence Avenue and River Road in what was then the Fairview area of Leyden Township. The farm and mill stood near a small dirt path, presumably named “Mill Road,” just north of Lawrence Avenue. When mill construction finished in 1870, Brockman experienced successful business. Farmers from Leyden, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, Maine, Proviso, Cicero, and Bensenville used the mill regularly.
Brockman’s mill was built to handle fall harvest demands: it featured two run-of-stone and all of the necessary equipment for wind-driven wheat grinding. The two grain elevators installed in the mill were both used for wheat: one elevator hauled grain to the upper floors for cleaning and separating in the smutter. After grinding, fresh flour was lifted by a separate elevator to the wheat bolting machine, where flour was separated and sent down chutes to the first floor for bagging.
A small wing building may have housed either an office or a steam engine to drive the mill on calm days (based on photographs of this building with a chimney). It is unclear what the purpose of the building was, since shipping and receiving took place at the mill’s center. Brockman’s mill was also one of few in Illinois built with a tail-fan to automatically turn the cap into the eye of the wind.
Although business for the mill declined by the turn of the 20th century, the mill was operable—and in great condition—until about 1913. Eventually, weather brought each of its sails down, wrecking the stage. Soon afterward, the tail-fan and the remaining sails weathered away. The mill collapsed on its own in the early 1930s.
The farm was sold after the death of Henry Brockman, Jr. and the land was redeveloped. The area where the mill once stood is now a parking lot. It is unknown what happened to the mill stones. Recently, the Schiller Park Historical Commission installed an historical marker about one-quarter of a mile west of the original site. It reads: “Former site of Brockman’s Mill before 1900. Schiller Park Historical Commission.”
-Schiller Park Public Library
-Schiller Park Historical Commission (SPHC)
-Francis W. Parker School Year Book. Chicago: Francis W. Parker School, 1913.
Excerpt from History of Park Ridge.
Postcard sketch of the mill courtesy Paul van den Berg.
Postcard view of the mill courtesy Paul van den Berg.
Photo taken from a glass negative showing the family on the stage (1900) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo from DigitalPast.
Postcard of the mill, incorrectly referred to as “Des Plaines Windmill,” with the miller unfurling canvas on the lower sail.
Photo (1910) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo of the windmill during an excursion by students from the Francis W. Parker School, (1913).
Diagram of the windmill’s interior by a student from the Francis W. Parker School (1913).
Photo (1915) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo showing one broken sail (1918) from DigitalPast.
Photo showing two missing sails and damaged stage (1919) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo of Edgar Hastings in his 1918 Oldsmobile near the mill (1919) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo showing signs of heavy decay (late 1920s) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo of the last known photo of the windmill before its collapse (late 1920s) from DigitalPast.
Photo of Shirley Wahl (left), Gerald Wiott, and Jean Wiott, on the brake wheel after the mill’s collapse (1930s) courtesy Michael Bloome (SPHC).
Photo of the historical marker (2011) by Michael Bloome.