This mill site in Annville, PA, has been in operation since about 1740 making it the oldest of its kind in the United States. The Penn land grant at the core of the Annville community was first used as a grist mill, a saw mill, and even a fulling mill for the processing of wool.
The waters of the Quittapahilla Creek were opportune for local folks who grew soft grain and needed flour. The mill stone in the foundation of the present building suggests that there was an even older mill on the site.
Meanwhile, in Lancaster County to the south, in 1890, five independent grocers met and agreed to mill a premium flour from local grain for their customers and the Daisy logo was born.
In 1905 in the United States, a roller mill process was developed allowing more volume and a much finer flour. The natural flour from the endosperm of each berry of wheat is extracted by rubbing, shaking and sifting. Each batch makes several passes through four small roller stands. Between each pass, the grain is carried by pneumatic tubes to the top floor of the mill and then sifted. At the end of the process, the middlings are ground and re-introduced to create whole wheat flour.
In 1909, the water wheel was removed and three vertical water turbines powered the steel Wolf Rollers. But the water power of the Quittie creek was erratic and auxiliary power was supplied by a variety of engines.
In 1927, a single cylinder diesel engine was installed. The mill could then run on good water power for six months and used electricity to help out the rest of the year.
A 1940 post card view of the mill, shows the dam and bridge which was destroyed by the floodwaters of Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
By 1951 the mill was owned by the Brandt family. Four concrete silos were added with elevators and a grain dryer. An aerial view taken in the 1950s shows a much larger complex. An 8-cylinder GMC diesel engine was installed about 1955 and the vertical water turbines were disengaged. They can still be seen in the penstock under the mill.
An electric motor was installed in the late 1960s along with a bulk flour bin, saving the labor of employees who had to put all the flour into 100 pound bags. The large steel silo was installed in 1970 allowing for storage of grain.
LeRoy E Brandt, who still helps us conduct occasional tours of the property, was the mill owner in 1993. He removed the bucket lifts which moved flour and wheat between floors and installed a pneumatic system which uses air to move the flour.
Daisy Flour was milled in Lancaster County until 1985 by the Lancaster Milling Company. At that time, the label was discontinued and the Lancaster mills were shut down and sold. During this time period, McGeary Organics, which continued to hold the brand name, inherited from Lancaster Milling, continued to serve farms, feed and flour mills with grains and feed ingredients.
In the year 2000, McGeary decided to revive the Daisy brand name and set out to find a mill where the integrity of the 100% organic flouring process could be maintained.
McGeary Grain, Inc. and McGeary Organics purchased LeRoy Brandt's Mill early in the 21st century. The Daisy Flour logo was carried from Lancaster County to nearby Lebanon County. The purchase was made to support local organic farmers and to preserve this historic structure while it continues to serve the useful purpose for which it was built 250 years ago.