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rockwell painting
Freeport Machine Company, Freeport, IL
ca. 1883
ID 93.197

To read about the Mark Nice's
reproduction wheel for the Stover see:

August 2000

Turn, Turn, Turn!

As the story goes, William Ford traveled to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition in 1876. William, a farmer from Springwells Township in Wayne County, Michigan took a keen interest in the agricultural displays. One device struck him as particularly useful, a Stover Windmill, or as the Stover Wind Engine Company's advertisement called it, "Stover's Automatic Wind Engine."

Stover Trade CatalogThe company promoted its mill as "possessed with intelligence" to turn out of the wind, and constructed to be "Strong, Durable, and do good work under the most adverse circumstances." The windmill received a number of awards, including ribbons at the Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania state fairs. The company convinced William Ford of its merits, and he purchased one for his farm. Besides the main office in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the firm kept a branch office operated by B. S. Williams in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and that may have helped sway him.

When Henry Ford restored his boyhood farm in 1919, he believed it important to locate a Stover Windmill, and resurrect it. In 1944, Henry moved the home to Greenfield Village, and the Stover made the trip, too. Sometime after his death the windmill was removed from the homestead. Edward Cutler, Henry Ford's architect for Greenfield Village, commented that he heard it was Clara Ford's idea because she did not like "looking at the thing," but "it sounds rather weak that she would object to looking up at the windmill." No one really knows why the windmill came down.

In 1993, a donor gifted a Stover windmill to The Henry Ford, and in 1996 it was installed at the homestead. Knowing that wooden artifacts do not handle the elements well, Museum staff reproduced the tail of the mill to preserve it from deterioration. In 1999, the Museum decided to have the wooden components of the head (the circular fan section) reproduced to preserve it. We worked with Mark Nice and Mike Brigolin, two Michigan windmill experts, to make the new wheel. By reproducing the original, we hope our visitors can see a Stover windmill for years.


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