Images of the Past: G. Priest & Son, Bloomfield Mills

In June 1968, a familiar landmark in Bloomfield bit the dust. That spring, the City Council condemned Hamilton Produce’s 93-year-old wooden mill building, which was located a half block off the southwest corner of the square.

The mill traced its history back to an immigrant from England who arrived in Bloomfield 30 years after settlers began arriving here. George Priest (1817-1889), the son of a miller, was born in Norfolk, England. He headed for North America in 1844, where he married Jane Biddulph, a native of Ireland, three years later. Ultimately they landed in Davenport in 1857.

In 1872, George and his son Samuel (1847-1933) moved to Bloomfield, where they rented Luther Cook’s mill. Three years later, the father and son built their own mill — G. Priest & Son, Bloomfield Mills, and advertised their business as dealers in grain, flour and mill feed. An engraving of the new mill (above) was included in A.T. Andreas’ Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, which was published that same year. The 1885 State of Iowa census lists both father and son as millers. However, the 1880 federal census of Iowa listed Samuel as a grocer. George died in Davenport in 1889. A few years later Samuel’s involvement ended.

About 1900, the mill building was purchased by L.E. Goode, a produce dealer (left). The Goode family sold the business to Hamilton Produce in 1959.

— Rudy Evans  |  revans1953@gmail.com