Text Box: SOUTH BETHEL AND WALKER’S MILLS
In the History of Bethel Maine, William Lapham wrote the little hamlet now known as South Bethel was begun in 1803 by David Blake, who built mills there.  He also built a little house east of the house known as Walker’s house. It was taken down soon after the Walker house was built.  The mills passed from the Blake family to Jonathan Abbot and from him to James Walker. Mr. Walker built the carding and fulling and cloth dressing mill and dug the canal which conveys water to it.  This building was later used as a bedstead factory. 
From the 1858 county map of Bethel, the buildings were listed as follows starting on the south side of the road at the Jonathan Abbot place, R.P. Chapman, H. Ripley, Threshing Mill, Grist Mill, Shingle Mill, L. (Lawson)  & L. (Lyman) W. Russell, and Saw Mill (built by Samuel B Locke).
The following was written in 1896.
South Bethel is the name applied to this part of the town as a whole, and is also the name of the post-office, but the place is better known as Walker’s Mills; but I think the energy and enterprise of the present owner of these mills entitles him the credit of a new name, and I suggest that "Virgin's Mills" would be entirely proper; little or nothing is left of the original Walker's Mills. Mr. Rufus J. Virgin has rebuilt and enlarged them until they are among the best in this part of the county. Mr. Virgin was a native of Hanover [Rumford], and came to this place and opened a grain store in 1880. 
  In 1882, he was joined in the business by Chas. Hutchins, who remained with him two years, when the partnership was dissolved. About this time the mill was refitted for sawing birch; since that time he has paid thousands of dollars to the farmers in this vicinity. In '88 he bought the old saw-mill of W. H. Goddard, and for five years has run this in connection with his with his birch mill. His birch business has been steadily increasing since the start, and he now buys thousands of squares yearly, besides what he saws, to supply his large dowel trade. 
In 1894 he entered into the manufacture of ironing tables, clothes horses, wash benches, step ladders and wooden novel­ties too numerous to mention. Since then he has kept several men steadily employed on this work. In 1892, he decided to have his mills and shafting all under one roof, and accordingly built a birch mill joined on the west to the dowel mill and on the south-east built a large mill for long timber, fitted up the basement for shingle and clap-board sawing. At the present time from fifteen to twenty-five men are employed. He is ably assisted in his business by his wife, who has always kept his books and attended to his corre­spondence. 
His residence is the Walker homestead, but this has been entirely renovated outside and in. One of the recent improve­ments in the grounds is an artificial pond which he has stocked with trout. In addition to much other real estate he owns one of the finest farms in town, where he makes a. specialty of dairying. 
In January 1889  Lyman Russell, Jessie Wentworth and Gayton Abbott  organized a company known as the Russell Manufacturing Co. for the making of cribs, cradles, bedsteads and croquet sets at Walkers Mills.

Bethel Maine History -The Bethel Journals

South Bethel &

 Walkers Mills

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Left:  Alder River a few yards North of the Rabbit Road bridge showing remains of stone dam possibly the one built for grist mill— 1880 map of Bethel

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