Benijah Aldrich Parmenter (nicknamed “Madge”) was born in Novi, Michigan on May 7, 1842. Originally from New York State, his parents were early settlers to the area. Benijah received his early education in a log schoolhouse and helped on his family’s farm. He enlisted in the US Navy in March of 1862 and served on board the USS Elfin until it was destroyed in battle on the Tennessee River. He then served on board the USS Cincinnati until the close of the Civil War.
After the war, he returned to farming in the Northville/Novi area and married Anna F. Guthrie in December 1867. Using his mustering out pay, he established Parmenter’s Mill on Baseline Road in 1873.
Originally, the mill was powered by a team of horses and produced vinegar. In 1880, the mill was powered by a threshing machine engine and ground up to 10,000 bushels of apples annually. Two years later, the mill began using a steam engine, which remained in use until 1910, when power was switched over to an electric motor. Parmenter’s produced mainly apple cider vinegar until 1953, but they also produced apple butter and apple cider. The Mill was run by five generations of Parmenter’s until it was sold.
In 1968, Robert Parmenter, the last descendant of Benijah to own the mill, turned the business over to Vern and Ruth Bodker. The Bodkers, who previously owned the Bodker Dairy Company, made significant changes in the cider-making operation, most notably the addition of a stainless steel drum for keeping pressed apples refrigerated. The Bodkers also owned the mill when a fire destroyed the original structure in 1977. Undaunted, they rebuilt the main building and were open for business the next season. The Bodker's also added the Northville Winery in 1982.
In 1991, sisters Cheryl Nelson and Diane Jones, along with their husbands Rob Nelson and Mel Jones, purchased the cider mill from the Bodkers, who were longtime former Redford-area neighbors. This team of four ran the mill together for 22 years. After working with his parents and Aunt and Uncle for 15 years, Robert Nelson Jr., along with wife Carina Nelson, purchased the Northville Winery in 2006 and added a Microbrewery in 2014. NWBC has been a wonderful addition to the cider mill and is open all year round. Robert and Carina purchased the Cider Mill in 2016 and plan to continue running it as their family has for the last 26 years with their four sons!