Frye Pioneer Family

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John Bickerdike
Jonathan Frye and Frye's Mill on Blue River (Creek)
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The Mill was on the left where the creek takes a turn to the left.
There are some small caves on the right and a spring that runs right out of the rocks.
The cemetery with old creek rocks is on the hill to the right.
This is looking north from the place where you can ford the creek to go to Detroit from Flint Township.
Written by Nancy Smith Shaner

Our family lived near the site of Frye's Mill from about 1953 to 1964. At that time you could still see the old house, the remains of a building, a log barn and at the edge of the creek were large wooden beams probably from one of the mills. The logs for the barn were recycled from the old log home of Daniel Burns, according to Sam Wade who owned the land at that time. An old cemetery was on top of the bluff east of the creek and mill site. There were flat river rocks marking the graves. There were no inscriptions to tell who is buried there. Gladys Turnbull thought the graves were of the Fry and Reynolds family. I remember my father wondering if any of them were of the Taber family. We will never know for sure.

Excerpts from various Histories:

Jonathan Frye at the early Frye water mill on Blue River, (Big Blue Creek) in famous Frye's Hollow, which in the 1840's ranked as the second place in the county in amount of business. For many years thereafter, the country round about remained largely in a wild state; deer, wolves and wild turkeys were numerous. (Pg 160 Jess Thompson History)

The first mill was built on Blue Creek by Garrett VANDUSEN in 1824, who sold the site to Joseph FARLEY, who built a new combined grist and saw mill. In 1835 Jonathan FRYE bought FARLEY out, and the next year he formed a partnership with J. R. STANFORD, and this firm in 1840 built a new steam merchant mill. They did a large business shipping flour by the boat load via New Orleans to Boston. This mill was destroyed by fire in 1846.

Detroit Township History, Big Blue Hollow. This is quite an historical locality. In 1842 it ranked as the second place in the county in the amount of business transacted. There were then three flouring mills, a saw mill, and a store in this mountainous-looking region; these mills were known by the name of Providence Mills, and were owned by Jonathan Frye. In 1835 he erected there a two-story frame house and sided it with shaved clapboards; this house is still standing there, with the old siding upon it, and is occupied by Mr. Wm. Reynolds and family. (year of this account not known)

Page 65 of Jess Thompson's History states, Stephen Gay along with Jonathan Fry, the famous early miller, built the first steam flouring mill at Pittsfield in 1849.

Perry History, Mr. Matthews in company with Cephas Simmons, built the first steam grist-mill that was built in Griggsville in 1856. This mill is now run by Mr. Frye.

Family record taken from sources on

Jonathan Frye was born in Andover, Massachusetts 18 June 1794. He was the son of Theophilus and Lucy Lovejoy Frye. Theophilus had been in the Revolutionary War. The next time Jonathan is found in the records is when he married Emeline Disberry in Madison County Illinois, 15 June 1823. They had at least 8 children. According to the 1850 and 1860 census they had Samuel, Jonathan L., Mary Jane, Louis/Julius, Francis/Frank, Eliza, William and a son listed only with the initial G. Some attribute a George W. as a son. Any grown independent children were not listed with them on those censuses. Samuel, John and Mary Jane were born in Missouri between 1831 and 1836. By the 1840 census they are living in Pike County. In 1840 at the Quincy Land office he is listed as purchasing 80 acres in Detroit Township of John Farley. In 1844 he purchased 160 acres in adjoining Flint Township and it states he is of St. Louis County, MO. Since the Frye family were millers in Massachusetts it is probable that Mr. Frye operated a mill in St Louis County. In 1850 the census is more specific and says he is living in Detroit Township. Occupation Millwright and his property is worth $3,000. In the census of 1860 his real estate is worth $14,000 and his personal property is valued at $1700+. Jonathan L married Mary Clemons and operated a Flour Mill at Hardin, Pike County. They eventually relocated to Lamar, Barton County, MO. Mary Jane married Henry Noyes. Francis married Mary Griffin. They eventually relocated to Franklin County Kansas.

Jonathan and Emeline Frye are listed at the Pittsfield West Cemetery his death was April 17, 1863. Emeline died 10 September 1860. She was born in Pennsylvania December 28, 1806. Jonathan Frye's ancestors can be traced back to John Frye of Basing or Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. He came to America in 1638.