The County's Oldest Industry and the Rise of Hopkinsville Milling Company, makers of Sunflour Flour and Sunflower Corn Meal and Grits.
The history of the milling industry is almost as old as the county. Milling is the process by which flour, corn meal, and grits are made. The first milling process was elementary and crude. It was simply and tediously done by hand at the first milling site in Christian County in 1797.
The first grist mill in Christian County, where Hopkinsville Milling Company is located, was built in 1800. The first millstones were brought in from Pennsylvania the same year, for a mill located on the East Fork of Little River.
The first merchant flouring mill in the county was built by Captain John W. Cocke in 1820 and the ensuing years saw several milling operations established and fade from the scene.
Crescent Mills was established by F.J. Brownell and John T. Rabbeth in 1874 at the intersection of 7th Street and the Railroad in Hopkinsville. It was the first steam powered flour mill in Hopkinsville which meant that mills no longer needed to be located on a river site for water power. Soon, Crescent was producing an average of 150 to 200 barrels of flour every 24 hours and became a regional leader in the milling industry, producing several brands of flour including: Perfection Patent, Orient Extra Fancy, Sultan Family, Crescent, and Sunflour.
Another leading miller was Climax Mill, built in 1906 at 21st Street and Walnut Streets, where the Illinois Central Railroad and Louisville and Nashville Railroad intersected. Crescent Mills and Climax Mill merged in 1908 to form THE HOPKINSVILLE MILLING COMPANY.
Hopkinsville Milling Company management led the company to national recognition and respect but elected to remain a relatively small operation turning out the highest quality flour, corn meal, and grits to a market area that has grown to include more than a dozen states. It is a familiar story that former area residents, when visiting, often take several bags of Sunflour Flour and Sunflower Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix back home with them, sometimes by the trunkful. Now that’s loyalty!