TURN OF THE CENTURY 1900 (Industry): Ebel brothers were pioneers in local industry

Industry in Hillsboro at the turn of the previous century was almost synonymous with the name Ebel. The Ebel clan, headed by brothers Edward, Bartel, August and Richard, became successful millers in South Russia and eventually brought their skills and entrepreneurial spirit to Hillsboro.

Though August was living in the United States as early as 1876, Bartel was the first brother to settle in Marion County, arriving in Hillsboro in 1880.

August and Bartel ran a general merchandise and grocery store for the first several years. Bartel left the business in 1892 to build a large flour mill. August and younger brother Richard eventually joined the business, which they called Ebel Brothers Mill & Elevator. It was also known as the Hillsboro Roller Mills.

The newest burr rollers and purifiers were installed in the mill to reduce the kernels of wheat to a very fine flour. The machinery was powered by a 100-horsepower steam engine. The four-story mill processed 650 bushels (20 tons) of wheat and corn each day and employed from six to eight men in 1902. They shipped carloads of flour to Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and New Mexico.

Not to be outdone, oldest brother Edward sold the flour mill he was operating in Hillsboro in 1892 and built a creamery and butter factory on the northwest corner of what is now Ash and D streets.

When Edward died in 1895 from lung disease contracted from flour dust, his widow exchanged the creamery for a farm southeast of town. The new owner, Peter L. Janzen, operated the creamery successfully for several years.

At the turn of the century, the creamery used horse and wagon to pick up some 5,000 gallons of milk each day from rural stations in the area. The capacity of the Ebel-Janzen Creamery increased to 30,000 pounds with the purchase of a new ice refrigeration compressor around 1900.

Six people worked in the plant year round. Butter and cheese were packed in barrels and wooden boxes and sold mostly to out-of-state markets, bringing thousands of dollars into the community each year.

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