Frederick Graue was born in Germany, came to the United States and settled in Fullersburg, Illinois, in 1842. In 1849, he purchased the site of a sawmill that had burned down, along with his partner William Asche, and constructed a gristmill there. Asche later sold his share to Graue. Limestone for the basement walls was quarried near Lemont; bricks for the rest of the walls were made from clay from the Graue farm and fired in kilns near the mill site; flooring, beams, and posts were from white oak timbers cut along the I & M canal. The four one-ton buhrstones used for grinding were imported from France. After the gristmill opened in April 1852, it ground wheat, corn and other grains produced by local farmers.
The mill was a major center of economic life during the 19th century and was also used by Fred Graue to hide runaway slaves on their journey to freedom in Canada. President Abraham Lincoln reportedly visited Graue Mill during a trip from Chicago to Springfield. Frederick Graue and his third son, F.W. ("William") Graue, operated the mill for 70 years until modern milling methods rendered the old mill obsolete and the building was abandoned.
The building was eventually added to the properties of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. In 1934, it was decided to restore the mill to the period of 1852-1868, the time the waterwheel was in operation. The restoration was completed in 1943 but was not maintained. In 1950, the mill property was leased to the DuPage Graue Mill Corporation, an organization formed by local residents, who repaired the waterwheel and gear system and opened the museum.
Graue Mill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in May 1975. And in 1981 was recognized as an Illinois Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers -- the only gristmill so designated on a national or local level, representative of an important technology and era in the history of America.