Owen & Carleen Sabin, second generation owners of an old 1864 working Grist & Cider Mill in Yankee Springs, Michigan came to live on the mill property after selling their farm in 1984.
Carleen’s parents Neal & Marion Cook first generation millers, asked them to come to the mill and to live in the Bowen’s House that had been recently purchased after coming up for foreclosure.
The house was in dire need of restoration. It had been remodeled over and over through the years. Most of the old woodwork was removed and the plaster was falling off the walls.
The Sabin’s restored the house during the 13 years they lived there and purchased the house from Carleen’s mother after the death of her father Neal H. Cook in 1989.
In 1997 when Marion and her new husband Ron retired, Owen & Carleen decided to purchase Historic Bowens Mills and become second generation millers. Since they had dedicated so much of their lives to the mill and all of the restoration projects, there was no question in their minds what they wanted to do when the opportunity arrived.
In 1998, their first year, an artisan woodworking shop was added to the mill property. It was built out of lumber from a barn that had blown down in Grandville, MI.
In 1999 the second year, the water wheel project called “Neal’s Dream” was completed with the help of the Fork River Free Trappers and many other friends and family volunteers.
2001 the Miller built his wife “The Gathering Place”, a wonderful, huge, gambrel roof building that would be “key” in the future of the Historical Park & Pioneer Farming Village. It houses a unique gift shop and an enormous “great room” for large gatherings, concerts, wedding receptions and festival exhibits.
The split rail fence project was started also that year. Hand split cedar rails from the Museum of the Appalachia in Tennessee were carefully hauled home and put in place by the Sabins. The fence adds to the ambiance and beauty of the park and will eventually encircle the mill property.
Mission Statement: “Our Mission is to continue with the visions and dreams of our parents before us and to add to that, more of our own. We feel our imaginations are unlimited and that there are endless horizons of possibilities here. We would like to keep alive the history of the Bowens and the Civil War Era. We feel it is also our responsibility to provide a living diary of the first generation millers Neal & Marion Cook and keep alive the memories that they created here for so many people.
In purchasing this State Historic site, we have decided to dedicate ourselves to the continuance and future of this old mill and to make it our life. We accept the heavy financial responsibility that has been laid on our shoulders. As we press on and share in the lifetime of the old mill, we pour out our lives for the joys of those who visit here. We thrive on the energy we receive from the people and have learned to value the help of others.
“We believe it is more than the love of an old building and a place in time. it is fulfilling a dream, in the minds eye, that God has given us.”