Dedicated to the history, preservation, and continuing story of windmills in Illinois.
(1858 - ?) Grist
(1858 - ?) Sawing
(1858 - ?)
Jean Baptiste de Fontaine
Jean Baptiste de Fontaine (1858 - 1890)
(unknown owner) (1890 - 1910)
Highland Historical Society Highlights. Highland Historical Society, July 2010. Link courtesy Paul van den Berg
History of the Mill
Information about this windmill comes from a July 2010 newsletter from the Highland Historical Society, entitled "The Windmill at Sebastopol, Illinois":
Early Highland was not just German Swiss. There were large numbers of French speaking Swiss and true French. Jean Baptiste de Fontaine came to this area from France in 1858. In need of a mill, he built a windmill of the type that is still common in Holland but was also known in France and Belgium in his day.
The windmill stood thirty-six feet high and had a conical shape with twelve sides. The axle projected from one side of the roof almost at the crest. The four mill arms were 24 feet long and five feet wide. The arms were huge timbers and the outside structure was covered in rough-hewn, hand-made shingles. There were no nails or screws used anywhere. The machinery, right down to the cogwheel, was made of wood.
Although he also used it for a saw mill, it was primarily intended for a grist mill and he was known to grind wheat and corn for local farmers. Jean Baptiste was also a watchmaker and made wooden shoes for his own use. He built his house with brick, which he made himself. He built the farm buildings with old-style French roofs, which made the area picturesque as the French countryside. He died in 1890 at the age of 87. The windmill fell into ruin after his death and was torn down in about 1910.