De Soto’s Hadley Mill produced flour for metropolitan area
De Soto was once a familiar name in kitchens around the Kansas City metropolitan area for the flours produced at the local mill. The heyday of the mill was was around the beginning of the 20th century.
This story giving details of that history was provided by Kathy Ross and was first published March 10, 1932, De Soto News.
J. M. Hadley started in the milling business at De Soto, making cornmeal and grinding feed in a small frame building. Sometime in the late 1889s, he decided to go into the flour manufacturing business and in 1891 or 1892, on the site of the present elevator, he built a brick flour mill about 40 by 50 feet in area, which had a capacity of 75 barrels per day. He made four grades of flour; Crown being his high patent, White Rose next -- which was the popular brand -- Sun Flower and Daily Bread being cheaper brands.
The brick of which the mill was built were molded and burned just east of the present lumber yard.
The business grew, and prospered until about 1901 or 1902 when there sprung up a demand for hard wheat flour and in order to supply that demand Mr. Hadley remodeled, expanded, and increased the capacity of the mill from 75 barrels per day to 150 barrels. At this time, he added another brand of flour to his line, and named it "Hadley's Triumph," which was a hard wheat flour. There being no hard wheat grown in this part of the state, it became necessary to ship in hard winter wheat from central and western Kansas to be made into Hadley's Triumph.
During those years, coal was very high in cost and scarce, and a number of people gained their livelihood during the winter months cutting and hauling cord wood to the mill to be used in firing the engine boiler.
The brick mill had an elevator capacity of 10,000 bushels, and the new addition consisted of nine bins with a capacity of 3,500 bushels each making a total capacity of 41,500 bushels.
During those years the Hadley mill provided the best market for wheat in this part of the country. Wheat was hauled with teams from far and near. A great deal was hauled as far as 15 or 20 miles in every direction. As a usual thing the wheat growers on the north side of the river would delay marketing their wheat until the winter months hoping and praying the river might freeze over to a thickness sufficient to carry a team and wagon with 50 or 60 bushels of wheat, which would save them a fee charged by the ferry (The bridge was not built until some years later). It was not an uncommon sight to see six or seven wagonloads of wheat crossing the river at the same time during the continued cold spells.
The flour was delivered to all the towns in this part of the country by team and wagon. A man by the name of John Hale, who owned a small pair of mules, did most of the hauling. Sometimes because of the roads and weather it would take him a long time to make a trip, but he never failed to deliver his cargo.
J. M. Hadley died June 21, 1909, but the business continued to prosper under the management of B. F. Snyder until in June 1911 the mill caught fire and burned to the ground, after which the Hadley interests bought a mill in Olathe, and moved to that place.
During the period in which the mill was operated at De Soto, the principal business district of the town was located in this vicinity namely: a lumberyard southwest of the depot, a cornmeal and feed mill operated by Zimri Gardner stood south of the depot, a blacksmith shop, a cafe, a barber shop, a private stockyard and office used for buying, selling and shipping of livestock also were located here.