Historic Bowens Mills240 Old Mill Rd, Middleville, MI 49333
History: In 1836 Montermer B. Martin, a land speculator, came to Barry County and Purchased land from the government, President Martin Van Buren signing the contracts. This land was located in the north west part of Yankee Springs Township, parts of Sec. 8 and 17. The lake which is now known as Payne Lake was included in this tract. Of course, one of the first things needed in those early days of Barry County was a sawmill. Soon a Mr. Payne and his son-in-law built a dam and a sawmill where two creeks joined just north of the lake. It was powered by a water wheel with a 4 foot fall and they were soon sawing 1,000 foot of lumber a day. The creeks became known as Payne and Hoag Creaks (Hoag Creeks Name has since been changed to Cobb Creek.) About 1838, Nathan Barlow, a lawyer, purchased some land which included the sawmill. Seeing the added potential of more water power a quarter or a mile or so up the creek, Mr. Barlow relocated the mill to its present location. History tells us he used many of the original timbers. Ox teams were used to transport them. Upon building the wooden dam across the creek, the water was backed up 14-feet, making the Mill Pond and in turn flooded the two ponds upstream, making the lake which was named Barlow Lake. The Barlows also built the house on the east side of the old Mill Pond. It was there in that house that court was held and legal matters taken care of. The house is now owned and is being restored by the ODells. Around 1854 the sawmill changed hands again, when Timothy and Franklin Miles bought it. More and more People were coming to the area and lumber was in great demand for their homes. Miles wanted to increase his production so he ordered some new equipment from New York State. His new "Muley Saw Mill" was delivered by ox team. He could now saw 7,000 feet of lumber a day. O. C. Bates owned the saw mill for about 1 1/2 years before selling to the Bowens. History dose not reveal any details of his ownership. The Edwin H. Bowens moved to Yankee Springs from Ohio in 1864 and acquired the sawmill. Bowen and his son William soon added a grist mill with three levels to the operation. The mill was 24 X 48 and housed 2 sets of French Burr Stones. The Mill and surrounding area soon became known as "Bowens Mills". Before it was always known as Gun Lake, Michigan. E H. Bowen was made Postmaster and the mail was kept in a large basket in the family home, where the farmers from the surrounding country would call as often as twice a week for their letters. The mail was carried by stagecoach from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids, someone meeting the coach at Wayland to carry the mail to Gun Lake. Later a wooden letter holder was made and put in the Mills Office. It is still there.