Fleeing persecution at Nauvoo, Illinois, thousands of Mormons began arriving at the Winter Quarters in 1846, and built around 540 log cabins and 80 sod houses. Needing to feed this large group Brigham Young asked Jeff Neff to build a mill on the northern edge of the encampment alongside 'mosquito creek'. After the departure of the Mormons the mill was vacant until Alexander Hunter began operation in 1856, supplying grain for the newly established city of Florence (1854). In 1870 John Weber took over operation and the mill stayed in his family for three generations. In 1880 steam replaced the creek as mode of operation, and then later electricity. It ceased operations in the early 1960's.