Monday, March 29, 2010

Bates Grist Mill

     The grist mill shown in the background was built by George V. Bates and was located on the Butcherknife Creek not far from downtown Big Fork.   It was built sometime between 1854 and 1867.  George Bates dammed up the Butcherknife Creek farther upstream and then dug a raceway to divert the water.  The raceway ran above the level of the creek along the foot of a hill on the south side of the creek and then curved around to the mill.  The diverted water turned the big wooden wheel that powered the mill.  
     The people are the family of Thomas Jefferson Bates.  Uncle Tom was the son of George V. Bates, builder of the mill.   Here is the names of some of these people:  Tom is on the far right with his arms crossed.  
(from right to left on the back row): Ezra Bates, Mount Bates, Y.D. Bates, James Roberts, "Lum" Liles, Dee Davis, Jim Taylor, Asa Talley with baby, and Sam Looney.  
(middle row from right to left): Minerva (Lewis) Bates, Leona (McMillan) Bates, Nola (Spears) Bates with baby, Victoria (Bates) Roberts, Olive Roberts, Mima (Bates) Liles with baby, Margaret (Bates) Davis with baby, Sarah (Bates) Taylor, Lizzie (Bates) Talley with baby, and Nancy (Bates) Looney.
On the front row some of the children are: Grace Liles, and other Liles children, Crawford children and Davis children.  Standing on the end of the front row on the far left is Will Crawford.

 The mill was located on the far left by the trees.  The buildings on the right are in "downtown" Big Fork.  On the other side of the row of trees on the left is Butcherknife Creek.   When this photo was taken, the field was owned by Jess and Neumata (Edwards) Fountain.

Here lies the mill stone resting in the pasture near where it used to grind up the grain.  We kicked back the grass and dirt to reveal its secret hiding place.
 Looking up Butcherknife Creek from the bridge on Hwy. 8 East in Big Fork. The Bates gristmill was up this creek on the left.   A story says that in the early days surveyors lost a knife in this creek and that's how it got its name.  Bates land lay on the left and Goss land was on the right of the creek.


  1. Jess Fountain is my mothers brother. My mothers name is Octovena (Fountain) Hickman.

    1. I met your mom several years ago. I am jess fountain ex daughter in law.

  2. My grandmother and grandfather are in this picture. James and Victoria (Bates) Roberts. I have seen the grist mill stone. Awesome history.

  3. MELBA REYNOLDS MCCLINTONMay 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    my grandparents are in this picture,Lum and Jamima Liles as well as my mother Grace LILES.