MOSES A. PAGE'S SAW MILL AND FLOUR MILL.
Fuller - Folsom - Kitchel
Page's Mill, also later known as Fuller's Flour Mill, also known as Folsom's Flour Mill, also known as Kitchell's Flour Mill helped in a great measure to build the Watson community history. In the spring of the year 1870 Moses A. Page who homesteaded the farmstead now owned by Edward Solseth secured the assistance of his nearest neighbors, and many other settlers and they dug a channel about 20 ft. wide, about 16 ft. deep and about 500 ft. long, north and south, across a bend towards the east on the Chippewa river about two and one-half miles north-east of Watson. Almost straight east from the center of the channel they built a dam across the river. And then Page installed a water lock and turbine in the channel and built a saw mill.
His nearest neighbors were Brigt Johnson, Jacob Engleson, Amend Amundson, Tom Amundsen, Paul Golie and John B. Oyen. These neighbors used their ox yokes and wagons to haul building material. He built the dam out of logs, poles, brush, sod and rocks to weight it all down with. All the pioneers were young and hopeful in those days and it did not take so very long to finish the construction work. They were promised lumber in pay for their work if nothing more to begin with and they needed lumber very much. Moses A. Page was, moreover, a great organizer and builder and the village of Page, North Dakota, is not named after him for nothing.
Then, at last, one day the whole structure was in readiness to turn on the water power to start the machinery and to shove the first log against the saw. That afternoon the settlers gathered from far and near to watch the saw mill run and manufacture lumber, and they were not dissapointed for although it took Page some while that afternoon to get started. He finally got it to run and he produced quite a pile of lumber before it was time to shut down for the night, and then the settlerss expectations ran high!
But, Alas! - When Page got up early the next morning a big section of his mill dam was already well on its way towards the Gulf of Mexico. And then Paul Golie, Brigt Johnson, Jacob Engleson, Amundson Bros. and John B. Oyen were summoned again to appear with their ox yokes and wagons and they appeared promptly. That day they hauled pretty near everything that they could find, and were able to haul, into that mill dam and they were in some way or the other able to nail that mill dam down to the bottom of the river so some of it is sticking there yet.
Page's mill building was 30 x 40 feet in dimension and he run it as a saw mill until the year 1874 when he installed two run of mill stone and different mill machinery and changed it into a flour mill. Page's flour mill became a popular busilness concern, it was patronized by settlers in Swift, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa and western Yellow Medicine counties, and even some settlers from eastern So. Dakota.
During the year 1875 a railway survey for the contemplated construction of the H. & D. Division of the C. M. & St. Paul Railway was completed paralleled with the old Government Trail from Montevideo to Appleton. Then Moses A. Page who was an able surveyor himself, and also in a townsite speculative frame of mind, surveved and staked out a complete town site on the flat prairie, which is now a field, right north of Edward Solseth's farm house. Those townsite stakes could be seen standing in that prairie until Edward Solseth broke it up when he started farming the land. Page had undoubtedlv the hope that he might induce the railroad to come there. Then, about the time the final surveying across the hill where Watson is located was completed, Moses A. Page sold all his property to A. L. Fuller and moved to North Dakota.
Many an acquaintance was made and friendships were started, at Page's mill between settlers of Lac qui Parle and Chippewa counties that lasted for life. A pioneer informed me that he once in a fall one day saw twenty teams awaiting their turn to get up to Page's loading platform, and he claimed that they often had to camp by the river over night to get the service they had traveled a long ways to get. At that time Page's mill was considered the center of the community.
In the year 1879 the railroad, that settlers like Gippe and Silvernail had lived without for fourteen years, crawled in over the horizon and Watson station was built. During the years when the building rush was going on in Watson A. L. Fuller the new mill owner did a rushing flour business. He run the mill until the year 1884 when he sold it to Frank Folsom.
Shortly afterwards Ed. M. Kitchell bought the mill from Folsom. Kitchell was a civil war veteran born in Ohio who had lived on a farm in Sparta township until 1879 when he went into the flour mill business in Montevideo. Kitchell was a kindly, likeable, gentleman who had a lively and sociable big family. His oldest son Albert was one of the most inventive and able mechanics that has ever set a foot inside of Chippewa county. Albert helped his father build up the mill until it was a three story structure equipped with mostly modern and efficient flourmill machinery. But the business was steadily decreasing in spite of all they tried to build it up. More mills had been built in the surrounding towns. More flour was imported and sold over the counters in near-by stores; and the Kitchell family moved away.
Albert Kitchell remained in charge of the property and kept the mill running for some time in an adequate proportion to the requirements of the old customers until about the year 1891 when the mill caught fire one forenoon and was burnt to the ground.