We know from historical land records that a sawmill stood on what is now the Yates property as early as 1848. When William and Caroline Yates settled here, they continued the sawmill operation, but in 1874, less than two years after the railroad line came through their land and Yates Station was established, William Yates made a big change in his business.
The Rochester Era newspaper of March 12, 1874, reported that: “Mr. W. H. Yates has been taking the machinery out of his saw mill and putting in the place of it one of the celebrated Challenge feed mills, which grinds any kind of grain without regard to dampness.” As Avon Township closed out its pioneer settlement era and moved into its agricultural heyday with the coming of the railroad, William Yates probably saw that it was time for him to change direction in his milling business and cater to the needs of farmers. Situated as he was halfway between Rochester and Utica, he could conveniently grind grains for farmers in eastern Avon Township as well as those in western Shelby Township.
Yates advertised his feed grinding services throughout the summer of 1874, but as autumn approached in that year, he made another announcement that turned out to be a historic one. On October 1, Yates ran a new ad for cider pressing at his mill. He boasted that he had just installed a Boomer & Boschert cider press and noted that his press could produce “more cider for the amount of apples than any other now in use.” Farmers could bring their apple crops to Yates for pressing, or they could purchase cider at the mill by the barrel or gallon. And with that small newspaper ad in the harvest season of 1874, a tradition was born at Yates Station that carries on to this day.
The Boomer & Boschert Company, manufacturer of Yates’s new cider press, was itself new to the cider business. The company was founded in 1874 in Syracuse, New York, and was located only about fifteen miles west of Sullivan, the town where the Yates family had lived before coming to Michigan. Boomer & Boschert became well known for its cider and wine presses that were installed in mills across the United States.
We don’t know how long William Yates used his original Boomer & Boschert press, but we do know that the Yates family stuck with that manufacturer over the years. The press that we currently use in our mill was made by Dunning & Boschert, the company that succeeded Boomer & Boschert in 1915. Here at Yates, we like to stick with things that work!
Written by Deborah Larsen
Freelance writer, Copyeditor, Proofreader,
Research Committee chairperson with
Rochester Avon Historical Society.