Walk into Bonneyville Mill on a weekend and you may be greeted with the smell of fresh baked bread. Courtney Franke, the miller at Bonneyville Mill, began offering free samples of baked goods using the flour they mill.
For Franke, providing the samples was a great way of introducing the products they make to the hundreds of visitors who come from all over the globe each season.
Bonneyville Mill has been a staple in Elkhart County for 183 years. It is one of the oldest standing structures in the county (being beat by a log cabin somewhere in Bristol).
The mill was privately run until the late 1960’s and reopened as a part of the county park offerings in the early 1970’s. During the down time, minor tweaks were made to the building to accommodate the safety of the public.
John “Buckwheat” Jenney, the previous miller from 1984-2019, was responsible for adding several grains to their menu beyond the original red, rye and corn. They currently grind hard white, soft white and hard red wheat, buckwheat, rye, oats, spelt and yellow corn. While Scottish oats are the most recent addition, the largest seller is cornmeal followed by their soft white which is like an all-purpose flour.
Visitors are sometimes surprised to not see a side wheel hanging off the side of the mill. The actual water wheel is located in the basement of the mill and is a turbine wheel. Turbine wheels were very popular in the 1800’s and were routinely used for mills. The mill continues to be water powered and use stones to grind grains to produce flour—a lot of flour. In 2019, the mill produced and sold over 5,000 lbs of flour.
“People who know our products love them and are very loyal to them,” says Kelby Rose, Deputy Director of Interpretive Services for the County Parks. “Even though it was (Franke’s) first season, we saw record grain sales. He introduced the idea of selling one pound bags which may seem like a small step, but for us it got the product in the hands of a lot more people.”
For Franke, introducing visitors to the Mill is something he enjoys. When asked what makes it cool, he smiles and says, “Well, it’s an 1830’s functioning grist mill producing flour for the people all around… that’s just cool.”
Bonneyville: A place where tradition of the region can be tasted in the flour produced by the state’s oldest operating grist mill, and wild landscapes beckon you to wander.
Seven miles of hiking trails meander through the park providing nature enthusiasts a chance to view abundant wildlife and beautiful wildflowers.
53373 County Road 131
Bristol, IN 46507
“Well, it’s an 1830’s functioning grist mill producing flour for the people all around… that’s just cool.”