Flour Milling Evolves into New Process Milling 1820-60
The Cooper Mill was built in 1826, to replace a mill built by
Isiah Younglove which operated until 1788. Then Elias Howell of Chester
ran a saw mill and grist mill on this site until 1825. Then in April of
that year to settle Elias Howell estate, the mill lot was deeded to Nathan
Cooper for a sum of $750 dollars. This included approximately 4 1/2 acres
of land, a mill dam, a grist mill and a saw mill.
In 1826 Nathan Cooper built the present mill to replace the earlier one.
The new mill had two water wheels, each driving two sets of millstones.
The mill was modeled after the design and ideas of Oliver Evans which were
contained in his book, "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide."
This new process used a system which was known as "automatic,"
that used a system of moving elevator belts, and screw conveyors, and a
In the 1850's, the old wooden water wheels of the Cooper Mill were replaced
by metal water powered turbines manufactured in Batley, New Jersey. Well
past the Civil War, the mill still contained a number of its Oliver Evans'
inventions. In fact the mill may have been converted into a "new
process" milling operation.
In 1913 the Cooper Mill of Milldale (Milltown) was the last operating mill
in Chester Township, and its milling operations were "about to be discontinued."
In 1963 the Morris County Park Commission purchased the property and began
the restoration of the mill. The Cooper Mill was opened to the public in
October of 1978, and Ivins Smith has been the miller there ever since.
What this discussion is about is the improvements to the Automated Flour
Milling System. Sometime after 1800 the automated flour milling system would
become known as the "Old Milling Process." Mills which operated
during the period of 1800 to 1860 were mainly by the automatic flour milling
system, low or flat grinding.
A number of factors effected the rate of increase in the number of grist
and flour mills. They are the wheat supply, number of water powered sites
available, the number of men with capital willing to develop these sites,
and the Napoleonic Wars. Water power sites was always plentiful, but men
with capital and technical skills was not. The technical experts, the millwrights
were found in the states and backwoods of the United States.
From the period of 1800 to 1860 there was a great variety of "mill
architecture" based upon functional demands. The automated flour
milling system of Oliver Evans had a great impact on mill architecture with
his book, "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide." Its
greatest impact was in the material handling of grain. There was no longer
a need for an exterior sack hoist, sack hoist hood attached to the upper
gable end of the mill above a series of Dutch doors located on each level
of the mill. There was also a great difference between the long established
(pre-Oliver Evans mill), larger grist and flour mills found in the well
established settlements of the United States and the so-called "backwoods"
The first mills were usually small, made of local material to suit local
needs at the time. They were hastily built on water powered sites that often
dried up during the summer months. Sometimes there was no written claim
of water rights or records. Then a more elaborate mill would have been constructed.
Often a larger grist mill which also served local needs. There were grist
or custom mills, merchant or commercial mills, plantation and combination
mills built across the United States. (Note: Explain the operation and differences
of each type of mill)
A Custom Mill: The man who builds the mill usually operates the mill
and makes repairs to it himself. The mill owner's house is also the miller's
house. The miller does not have a costume or clothing separate from his
normal clothing. The clothes he wears to work the farm or his other trade
is also the same that he wears working in the mill without changing them
in between. The mill operates seasonally usually only at harvest time. The
miller-mill owner has another trade or several of them that he practices
other times of the year. The miller also usually dresses his own millstones.
Usually the miller's apprentices or helpers are his children. What the miller
knows about his trade he learned form others and has little time to read
about his trade from books or trade journals. The miller may or may not
keep a record of his business operation and customers. Often the miller
uses the fabric of the mill to record his tally or customers. A custom mill
usually has only one or two pair of millstones, usually never more than
two. The mill if they have two pairs of millstones has one for corn and
one for wheat. Usually these millstones are domestic and not imported French
millstones. The mill usually does not have complicated machinery. Often
it does not have the machinery to clean before it is ground or sift the
grain after it is ground. The corn and wheat leave the mill most of the
time unbolted. The farmer brings the grain to the mill in a sack and once
it is ground the miller places it back into other same sack. The mill is
operated on a barter system of the miller collecting a toll for payment
of grinding grain. The mill does batch grinding for farmers and local individuals
on a first come, first serve basis. The mill does not clean up in between
each batch of grinding grain. Sometimes the mill only grinds corn, but may
also grind animal feeds. In lowlands and tidal areas they produce grits
and in the mountain area they produce buckwheat or pancake flour. The Piedmont
they may produce both, or one or the other. Often it only cleans and dresses
the millstones when it is seasonally closed.The mill grains grain relatively
slowly and has a small output. Custom mills are usually small and are not
permanent buildings made out of stone or brick. The miller may have a horse
and wagon but depends upon his customers for transportation of the raw grain
and final product. The mills are build in rural and isolated areas.
A Merchant Mill: The man who builds the mill for the owner is a millwright.
The owner is not usually the same person who constructed mill. The mill
owner employs millers to operate the mill and at times housing is provided
for in a "miller's house." The mill operates years round, it is
larger and has more complicated machinery. The mill has a complicated system
of storing grain, cleaning it and sifting it once if is ground. The mill
usually has three or more pairs of millstones. The mill has a hires or employees
millstone dressers who job it is dress millstones. Usually every week one
of the pairs of millstones need to be dressed, so usually once a month every
pair of millstones is dressed. If the mill has apprentices or helpers they
often live with the miller in the miller's house as if they were his own
children. The mill employs specialized labor force, millers, millwrights,
millstone dressers, cleaners and oilers, warehouse and packers. The miller
wears a costume (which is often white) and clothing separate than his street
clothes. Usually in the late 19th century the miller would go to school
to learn his trade and read milling books and trade journals, rather than
solely learning his trade though apprenticeship. The mill keeps complete
records of grain purchased, grains ground, products made, waste and lost,
and other business records. Some times in larger merchant mills the miller's
office is in a separate building and employs secretaries and office personal.
The mill uses imported French millstones for the production of white flour.
The mill only grinds white flour for profit and export. The mill operates
on a system of profit or loss. The mill buys grain from farmers and grain
dealers. The mill packages its products in commercially manufactured barrels
and sacks often with its own logo or brand name on it. The mill operates
on or close to a 24 hour a day, 6 day a week basis. The mill has a large
daily output and is measured in how many barrels or sacks it can produce
in a 24 hour period. The mill building are larger often built of stone or
brick often with separate additional grain storage units. The mill often
has separate warehouse and granary buildings. The mill has its own system
of transportation (wagons, dock, canal, trucks, or rail siding) for bringing
raw grain to the mill and delivery of the final product to the market. The
mills are build close to the grain supply areas and export markets.
Plantation or Estate Mill: This type of mill usually is a mixture
of both a custom mill and a merchant mill. They are operated as a custom
or feudal milling operation for those living on or working on the plantation
or estate. These mills collect a toll for the grinding of grain for those
living on the plantation and like the feudal system the owner receives a
portion of that income. They also operate a merchant trade flour milling
business and the barrels may be produced by individuals living on the estate
or plantation. If they use cloth flour sacks they are woven also by people
living on the estate or plantation. These mills also usually does a merchant
milling operation for the export of white wheat flour. These mills grind
grain grown on the estate or plantations and from others neighboring estates
that may not have a milling facility. Since they are operated on the old
feudal system of milling the mill owner is not the builder and he employs
a miller or millers to operate the mill. Housing, livestock and a food allowance
is often provided. The mills usually have two pairs of millstones. A domestic
pair of millstones for grinding grain for those individuals living and working
on the estate or plantation. Another pair of millstones is usually a French
millstones used for grinding wheat and producing white flour, and only flour
making machinery. These mills were often build in the tidewater areas or
close to transportation. In size and character they more closely resemble
feudal mills of Europe but may be larger buildings depending how important
the exporting of flour is to the owner occupation.
Combination Mill: This type of mill usually is a mixture of both
a custom mill and a merchant mill. This type of mill often began its operation
as a traditional custom mill, but for various reason has taken on also the
merchant milling operation. One reason is that it may be trying to compete
with the modern white flour industry in Minneapolis. Another reason is that
is may be just outside of large centers of urban population, and merchant
milling offers a regular source of income for the mill owner and the miller.
This type of mill often may have a domestic pair of millstones and a pair
of French Millstones, or it may have added the modern system of roller milling
to the mill so it can manufacture Minneapolis style white flour. Often the
mill owner will employ a miller of the operation of the mill may be a sole
function of one of the mill owners children while other children operate
other parts of the owners business ventures.
Oliver Evans system of automated flour milling and his devices had a great
effect upon "mill architecture." The mills needed to grow
in height due to the elevators and in width and breath for additional millstones
and the other improved machinery when it was installed. Merchant mills (competitive
mills at the front of flour production in the United States at the time)
were in the best position to take advantage of the new technology and to
adopt it early on. Many mills of the period and of the mid-Atlantic States
were constructed of stone. They often need to add an additional floor for
the height required for the elevators. (Examples of these mills would be
the Grist Mill at Lobachsville, in Oley, Pennsylvania, and the Burwell-Morgan
Mill in Millwood, Virginia.) Mills of the period grew significantly in height
which can be attributed to the method of milling that makes use of gravity
(at no cost), and the automated flour milling devices of Oliver Evans. (Examples
of these mills would be the Chapman Mill (1858), located in Thoroughfare
Gap on Broad Run, Virginia, and the Pickwick Mill (also 1858) outside of
Winona, Minnesota. Both mills are 6 story limestone buildings. The earlier
Chapman Mill built upstream on Broad Run was smaller stone building.)
Oliver Evans may have effected "mill architecture," but
it was the millwrights who interpreted it. They studied the the numerous
variable of water mill site, and applied Oliver Evans rules for water powered
grist and flour mills to them. They plugged in the information supplied
by the owner and came up with as to the size, height of each mill, the features
of entrance and exit the water, the mill road or approach for convenient
loading and unloading of grain into the mill. The millwright decided from
the information they had at hand for each mill how to design it as a custom
or merchant mill work and how much, the type and quantity of t he products,
and the machinery required for that particular head and quantity of water,
the material of construction, etc.
The best mill foundation material was that of stone, at least as high as
it was exposed to water. This depended upon the type and location of the
water wheel, whether if it was located outside of the mill, inside of the
mill or between two sections of mill buildings. The later turbine water
wheels required a low basement. An overshot water wheel required a high
basement stone work extending as high as the water wheel was in diameter
to at least the top of the sluice box. Another main factor in locating a
mill was to have the main floor above the level of the road and mill yard
so that it is located at the exact height of a wagon bed so it would be
convenient to load and unload grain at the main mill door. Each additional
floor varied in height depending upon the machinery that occupied that floor.
The first floor had to have high enough height to it to accommodate the
lifting and turning over of a millstone by a millstone crane. It is easy
to determine which mill originally never had a millstone crane because the
later added cranes cannot lift and upturn the runner stones.
A mill is made more fireproof by building it of stone or brick and placing
the floor timbers into slots or sockets in the wall that have burnout ends
cut on them. This is so if the building has a fire, they would fall away
from the walls without taring them up or prying down the walls with the
fire. Interior walls of the first floor were often plastered with mortar
upon the stone. Stone lintels were placed over each door and window opening
on the outside but but contained wood on the inside. The most important
structural feature in a mill was l the basement "husk" or "hurst
frame that would hold the millstones. It was built extra strong, often with
more craftsmanship than the building that protected it. This frame work
supported the millstones on the floor above. In William Carter Hughes book,
"The American Miller and Millwright's Assistant," he stated
that errant millwrights framed the millstone platform to the main building.
It should be separate so that the millstones can stay level, so power is
not lost and so the building would not be effected by the vibrations. Often
the millstone platform foundation goes deeper into the ground than that
of the mill building. Mr. Hughes warned that the millstone platform post
should be no taller than 12 feet so that unnecessary tremors from the millstones
and gearing would cause the machinery to work off pitch. Henry Pallett,
"The Miller's Guide," recommended the use of cast-iron
millstone platforms in 1852, which were already found in England. (Guilden's
Mill in Bladen, Pennsylvania, on Maiden Creek which was built in 1791, with
its attached miller's house of 1792, is a German mill with round wooden
turned pieces that make up the millstone platform. These large round wooden
turned pieces are found throughout the mill and can also be seen in the
horse frame of the millstone furniture.) David Craik, "The Practical
American Millwrights and Miller," advocated that timbers be removable
when decayed so they can be replaced, without disturbing the walls or the
upper portion of the mill building. The mill gearing occupied the interior
space of the millstone platform with the millstones located above and the
water wheel next to it (whether it is inside the mill or outside). Vertical
water wheels gearing occupied more space and the gearing of water turbines
was less cumbersome.
The first floor is where the millstones were located and was often called
the stone floor or the grinding floor. A small room was partitioned off
as the miller's office were a desk, chair, stove, shelves for books, business
records, and accounts were stored. Sometimes the shelves were larger enough
to form bunks were the miller and his helpers could sleep if they worked
later into the night. The upper floor were often more open, arranged with
machinery according to the flow plan of the mill designed by the millwright
to fit inside of the mill according to Oliver Evans. The first floor had
a receiving hopper, the millstones, flour bins, flour packers, and the miller's
office. The mill's basement had the fireplace for heating branding irons,
and the millstone platform. The second floor had grain and flour bins and
bolters. The upper attic floor had the hopper-boy, grain cleaners (smutters
and rolling screens) and perhaps an old fashioned sack hoist. The ending
stones are not always located on the mill's first floor, they are often
located on the middle floor(s) or located in the attic. The same is true
of hulling stones, they can be located in the upper floors along with the
cleaning machinery. (An example of this can be found in the Rensselaerville
Grist Mill, Rensselaerville, New York, which has a pair of hulling stones
for buckwheat on one of the upper floors.) Each machine was linked together
with another one by a system of chutes (spouts), elevators, conveyors (augers),
and from one story to another through an automated system. Located amongst
this was floor and dust rooms. The flour rooms being for rodent proof storage
and the dust rooms to allow the dust to settle in an airless environment.
Trapdoors improved the passage of mill furnishings in and out of the mill
since stairs were often narrow, steep, and risers were often scalloped with
wear. Safety guards were basically unknown for many years to protect the
mill staff and the public from accidents caused by revolving pulleys, belts,
shafts, and mill gears.
In "mill architecture" the standard size mill is 40 by
50 feet, a rectangular shape. Sometimes they are 40 by 60 feet, but still
a rectangle. Many mills have later additions. These were made to increase
their original output, and for technological changes. With stone or brick
mills the additions were sometimes wooden frame structures added onto the
original one. Sometimes they were of the same material (either wood, stone
or brick) and only a thin line runs up the building separating the later
addition. An important irregular feature of a normally rectangular mill
building was the wheel house. From northern Virginia, through Maryland and
Delaware, up into Pennsylvania and New Jersey it was common to find the
water wheel located inside of the mill. This was necessary where the climate
was extreme. Sometimes the water wheel was simply covered with a roof. (This
may have been the case with the Lee Mill, Stratford Hall, Westmoreland,
Virginia, and the classic "Winter at the Old Grist Mill," a Currier
& Ives print.) A water wheel either located inside of the mill, in a
wheel house, or under a roof, would possibly keep the wheel ice-free. When
a mill was later modernized with a water turbine often they were located
inside of the old water wheel pit. Space is opened up within side of the
mill because the machinery is then belt driven. Generally auxiliary steam
engines (and later other types of engines) were housed in additions, which
were often constructed of fireproof material if the mill was of wood construction.
The style of mills of this period were governed by functional considerations.
Mills more than any other structure conformed to the saying, "form
follows function," and installing the Oliver Evans system of automated
milling did more for that than any other technological change in the flour
milling industry and history.
In "mill architecture" roofs were usually gabled, sometimes
gambrelled or hipped, or Dutch-roofed, or mansard. Dormers were added to
illuminate the loft and attic areas. Sometimes a clerestory monitor was
constructed to let in full illumination to the attic. These opening besides
letting in light also let out heat during the warm summer months. (The mill
of Capt. D. W. Barger, at Shawsville, Virginia, pictured in the classic
1928 Fitz Water Wheel Company, Hanover, Pennsylvania, catalog shows a mill
with a clerestory roof.) Windows were casement and double hung for light
and ventilation. When a water wheel was located on an outside wall, fewer
windows were located on that side of the building to shield the mill from
dampness and cut down on the noise of an old creaking water wheel. A pulley
hoist was often located at or near the roofs ridge enclosed in a sack hood.
This was located on the side of the building where the delivery wagons unloaded
grain and machinery to the mill. (An interesting exception is the Chapman
Mill, (1858), located in Thoroughfare Gap on Broad Run, Virginia, where
a stone projects from the building that holds a sack hoist pulley. There
are four floors above this level, and two below the first floor.) A facade
of Dutch doors on each story sacks could be pulled from the vertical hoist
located underneath the hood. Sometimes located either above or at the threshold
of each door was a wooden roller (as wide as the door opening) so sacks
could be moved from one floor to another. The classic mill facade is found
in pre-Oliver Evans and also in some post-Oliver Evans mills.
Keystone Mill, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, built as a "new
process" flour mill. William Culbertson in 1801 had John Campbell
construct a log grist mill a distance down stream from the dam. In 1802
William Culbertson built a saw mill across from the grist mill. Shortly
afterwards another saw mill was built at the dam on the west bank. The Culbertson
Mill was a small crude log structure, operating using the low milling system.
The Culbertson Grist Mill was the third grist mill built in the county.
In 1856 William Culbertson's son who operated the mill, sold the Culbertson
Mill to James Reeder and Isaac Taylor. In the same year they replaced the
first mill with a new mill, installing modern merchant milling machinery
of that day. The modern machinery incorporated the Oliver Evans automated
flour milling system along with the "new process" flour
milling technology. The new mill was built on the same site by Mr. Skelton
using Greek Revival Architecture.
Reeder and Taylor operated Keystone Mills for many years. The mill was very
prosperous until the turn of the century when they sold the mill. From then
on Keystone Mill saw a great number of owners. The last miller to dress
and use the millstones of Keystone Mills was George Brookhouser. Mr. Brookhouser
came from a milling family, it was his father who was one of the owners
and operators of the Venango Roller Mill. George Brookhouser operated The
Keystone Mills while in town his wife ran a store. Keystone Mills had roller
mills when Mr. Brookhouser ran the mill but he was the last active miller
to use the millstones there.
The last miller to operate the mill as a flour mill was Pearly C. Harned
(pictured above standing alone to the right of the front drive though).
Mr. Harned gave the mill its red coat of paint with white trim. In large
white letters was painted "Keystone Mills, Edinboro, Pa."
Painted above the drive of the loading dock. Mr. Harned ground wheat flour
but by far his buckwheat flour was the most popular. Mr. Harned added a
steam engine to the south side of the mill for when the water level was
low during the summer months, it had a tall metal smoke stack which stood
above the mill from a small shed added to the building. When Mr. Harned
sold the mill, the new owner converted the mill to a feed mill.
The sound structure was demolished in October of 1959. People thought they
could push the mill down, but the quickly learned they had to dismantle
it peg by peg. The old mill went to a sad grave to become land fill between
the two Edinboro Cemeteries. In the mill were "Black Cherry" beams
18 inches square, some of them up to 50 feet in length, all going into the
For a photo of before it was painted "red" when it was painted
"white" around 1900, see: F.A.
Drake's Mill, near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.
Perhaps one factor that contributed the most to the change in the system
of mills, was not found within the mill, but was the water wheel. During
the period of 1800 to 1860 the greatest advancement in knowledge available
to millwrights came in the area of water wheels. The vertical water wheels
under went improvements to increase their efficiency. And speaking of efficiency
it was in this period, that the Franklin Institute during the 1840 discovered
the means of determining a water wheels efficiency. Also cast-iron began
to replace wood in must of the traditional water wheels. The European Greek
or Norse water wheel that had evolved into the American tub wheel because
the French development of the water turbine. Also during this period larger
conventional vertical water wheels were built since the development of the
noria water wheel several thousand years ago. During this period millwright
and miller's guides were published along with scientific journals that spread
information faster than ever before in milling history. In 1824, M. Poncelot
of France advocated curved buckets in undershot water wheels which lessened
the shock and increased the water wheel's efficiency. A Poncelot water wheel
changed the efficiency of an undershot from 25-30 percent to 60 per cent.
According to Jay M. Whitham, in "Water Rights Determination, From
an Engineering Standpoint," the Poncelot water wheel was never
in extensive use in America, having about the same efficiency as a breast
shot water wheel.
Ventilated water wheel buckets were an improvement of Sir William Fairbairn,
a British engineer who applied his knowledge to breast and overshot water
wheels. The more use of iron in water wheels was first advocated by John
Smeaton and John Rennie in late 18th century England, in both water wheels
and smaller mill gearing. The British millwright John Rennie designed a
sliding hatch for high breast shot water wheels. Then in 1824 William Fairbairn
improved upon them. In the 1840, after water turbines were developed in
France, they were very shortly afterwards manufactured in New England. In
the United States the first all-metal water wheel was patented by Samuel
Fitz in 1852, was made in the Martinsburg shops in (what is now) West Virginia.
The Henry Burden water wheel, built in 1852 in Troy New York, was the most
powerful water wheel in the world. The Burden water wheel had a diameter
in feet of 62.0, a breath or depth in feet of 22.0. Its bulk was 56,000
cubic feet, and its R.P.M. was 2..5. The final capacity or output in horsepower
was 300 and the water wheel weighted 250.0 tons. During this period the
majority of mills were run by water power which was still cheap and abundant
in comparison to steam power.
Mill gearing became more and more made of cast iron, and then later belt
driven or "belt gearing." Just after the turn of the 1800's traditional
oak water wheels driving pairs of millstones still may have turned wooden
cogs or gear teeth of maple or hickory, millstone pinions were being made
of cast-iron. During the 1820's more metal was being used for water wheels
(shafts and hubs), and by 1830 more cast iron was being used for mill gearing.
In David Craik, "The Practical American Millwrights and Miller,"
he describes in 1870 a mill he had seen in the 1850's or 1860's that was
a complete cast-iron cog and tooth gearing with no leather belting. He said
the mill was over geared, with a pinion fitting into a too small of segmental
gear that was too close to the water wheel. The problem was that the gears
always needed to be greased.
Leather belting or leather gearing had its advantages over cog gearing.
In many ways, cog gearing was cheaper and less troublesome, and more durable
than leather belting, it was preferred by millers and mill owners because
it smoother motion and less wearing (on millstone dress, and could produce
more flour from a bushel of wheat). Some advantages of leather belting is:
More even motion, steadier operating millstones, and less strain exerted
upon the water wheel. Leather belts were quilter with less noise, and belted
mills were simpler and easier to keep in good running order. Millstones
and machinery could be better placed inside of the mill, and it meant the
reintroduction of the mill machine: the portable burr mills. If leather
belting worked well with water power it worked better with steam power.
During this period of 1800 to 1860, the scope of the millwright's job changed
as more cast-iron machinery, mill parts and furnishings appeared. At one
time, most machinery was completely fabricated or handcrafted of wood near
or at the mill site by apprentices and the master millwright, with the help
of the blacksmith, and later more and more foundry work. The millwright
would now consult with the mechanics at the foundry and mill furnishers
about the purchase of any mill parts. The interior machinery became more
complex and new principles were applied that challenged the millwrights
too keep up with the latest inventions. During the period of 1795 to 1860,
there was only one millwright's guide and handbook, "The Young Mill-Wright
and Miller's Guide," by Oliver Evans in 15 editions. The first
book to come after Evans was "The American Miller and Millwright's
Assistant," by William Carter Hughes, first published in 1850.
The first book to really update Oliver Evans was David Craik, "The
Practical American Millwrights and Miller," first published in
The "miller" which the word is derived from the word, "mill,"
was the operator of the grist or flour mill. He was the "grinder."
If the mill required two or more hands, the miller would have an apprentice.
The milling guides outlines the separate duties of the head miller, second
millers, third millers, and mill hands known as "dusties," "
sack boys," "hopper-boys," "boys," and flour packers.
The number of mill hands depended greatly upon the number of millstones
the mill had and the amount of grain ground. Grist or custom mills operated
seasonally and often used farm or local labor which was hired on a day or
week basis, while the head miller was hired for the long term period. In
"The American Miller and Millwright's Assistant," William
Carter Hughes outlined the duties and proper help needed for a mill with
four run of millstones, using the automated flour milling system. ("Duty
of the Miler") The head miller or mill superintendent took charge
of the mill's business. He examined each millstone's progress and making
necessary improvements in each. He came on duty after breakfast and worked
until 11 p.m. at night. The second miller is capable of taking charge in
the absence of the head miller. The second and third millers dressed the
millstones by four p.m. each day, swept and followed the instructions of
the head miller. The mill hands oil, the journals daily. A clerk will take
care of the business and is someone "competent to take in wheat,"
which means inspect it before delivery and payment made. A careful person
is used for packing flour. In Henry Pallett, "The Miller's Guide,"
there is more specific duties of the head miller. ("Duty of the
Miler")The head miller must see that there is enough clean grain
for night grinding, test the millstones, and appoint someone to dress them,
if necessary each day. The second miller tended to the mill until one in
the morning when the third miller took over from then until one in the afternoon.
in a small mill the head miller responsibility was not only to operate the
mill, but to keep it clean, and in good repair, the dressing of the millstones,
accounting and managing all of the mill hands. The miller maintained a good
relationship with the farmers and the mill owner. Successful millers gained
a good reputation in the community as well as having a good personality,
with skill, character, and integrity. Of greater importance was the miller's
honesty, to wind the confidence of the farmers and the mill owner. In Henry
Pallett, "The Miller's Guide," he says, "If the owner
of a mill is not a practical miller himself, yet he may form some idea of
the capability of the miller from examining the quality of the flour made."
Some millers had the mechanical and inventive ability to made improvements
in the mill's machinery. Many millers were capable of doing good work but
were handicapped because of inadequate machinery in the mill. (for example
Adams Mill, along Rock Creek. It was always breaking down and the owner
was putting more money into the mill than it produced as saleable product.)
In Henry Pallett, "The Miller's Guide," he warns millers
not to be "governed by the mill owner as to the time the stones should
be dressed." Since mill owners often want them to run a longer time
without dressing so no time would be lost, even when it resulted in poor
flour quality. "A miller should have it in his power to to take up
stones and dress whenever necessary," Henry Pallett, "The Miller's
Guide." Millers should know how to dress millstones and to promise
not to drink. (This is the problem George Washington had with three millers
one after another that lead to his death.) Miller's houses should be built
for family use near the mill. Millers may live in rooms or apartments but
it is more desirable that they live in a house next to the mill to serve
as a watch over the mill when it is idle.
A Simplified Plan of David Bonnell's Process of Making Flour by Regrinding
Middlings. Patented in Canada, 1849-50 (patent number 279), this method
used (F. G.) first grind, a pair of traditional millstones (C.D.) to produce
"chop." The product of the first millstone grinding designated
term for the meal or stock. The "chop" falls into the bin marked
(F. T.), where an chop or meal elevator lifts it up to the discharge chute
marked (G) were a cooling rake (C. R.) or hopper-boy (H. B.) is located
in a cooling room. The cooled chop falls through the floor into the scalping
bolts (S. C.). There the flour bolts or screens separate the coarse from
the finer particles. The tailings, the larger coarser stock that pours out
of the tail of the flour bolt or screen, as opposed to the "throughs,"
the finer particles, they are reground by the auxiliary stones (A. G.).
From the auxiliary stones (A. G.) the reground chop goes into a series of
middling bolters (shown on the two floor below). These bolts are for flour
bolters used for separating merchant flour and bran.
Note: The above illustration is a schematic drawing, and meant to
show the operation of David Bonnell's process. In practical reality the
components may be located more compactly within a structure and make more
use greater numbers of elevators, conveyors, and chutes, than what is shown
in this implied example.
The change in the systems of milling was brought about by the increased
application of Oliver Evans' ideas. At one time the miller's threw the middlings
into the mill stream with the bran. Oliver Evans advocated the regrinding
of middlings with fresh wheat. Middlings does not mean from the middle,
but from the middlings. An expression of the medium quality of the meal.
One of the reasons the change in milling is called "new process"
of milling is that the middlings are reground now on separate millstones
called "middling stones," and are bolted on reels by themselves.
The mill and the system of milling is essentially the same s those of Oliver
Evans with the exception of how the middlings are reground. Now instead
of being mixed with fresh wheat they are ground on separate smaller diameter
pair of millings known as "middling stones." The regrinding of
middlings created a second grade quality of four. Often the flour was "killed"
by the closeness of the hot millstones. Flour that was "killed"
has injured gluten and will not rise when baking, and not make good bread.
The flour looses its "life" and its ability to create air bubbles
when being baked.
Millstones were operated using the "old low" or "flat milling
system" where the millstones were run relatively close together, thus
producing a lot of hot damp meal. Even with the introduction of "The
Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide," by Oliver Evans, the method
of milling remained relatively the same. Millstones were sharply dressed,
running fast, and close with a lot of pressure on the grain to produce as
much flour in just one grinding as possible with as few middlings produced
as feasible. Milling happened in three phases or basic steps, cleaning,
grinding, and bolting. In practice, the stages often were cleaning, possibly
recleaning again, grinding, cooling, bolting, regrinding and cooling again,
for a final bolting.
To avoid the loss of selling middlings as third or lower grades of flour,
such as "red dog" or "ships stuff," many methods of
regrinding middlings was tried. Evans recommended that middlings be reground
by themselves, or along with fresh grain on regular millstones so that they
would not be over heated or killed. One solution was offered by an American
"meal man" by the name of David Bonnell who in August of 1849
in the United States and in 1850 in Upper Canada, patented his "improved
process of flour milling." In "The American Miller and Millwright's
Assistant," William Carter Hughes discusses Bonnell's improved
process of flour milling, patented August 14, 1849. If the millstones are
set high much of the best portions would be lost. If the millstones are
set close the heat produced by friction spoils the flour. It is necessary
for a double grinding process.where the middlings would be separated and
reground. A mill should have a second set of millstones for regrinding middlings
(turning a rapid motion, from 300 to 500 revolutions per minute). The millstones
should be adopted to do this type of work, a 36 inch diameter pair would
be suitable for a four run mill. It should be gear driven because belts
would slip, with a conical eye, with irons put in to leave as much room
as possible. the eye should be covered with sheet iron or tin. The millstones
should be strongly banded and should have deep furrows at the eye or the
center. The feed should be changed from that of the hopper, shoe and damsel,
to a funnel, tube and screw. The tube reaches down into the eye almost to
the bale. Inside of the tube is a turning screw in place of the damsel that
pulls the material from the funnel down the tube into the stones.
David Bonnell of the Tecumseh Mills, described the process as this. "The
first grinding warms the product, and on being passed up the elevators,
through the cooler (hopper-boy) and first bolts, the offal is comparatively
kiln-dried, when it is subjected to the rapid motion of the auxiliary mill,
and on being bolted, is is readily divested of almost every remaining particles
of flour...... There is nothing new in grinding over the offal, or bran,
on the contrary, that has long been practiced. This, of course, I would
not deny, as I do not claim to be the discover or inventor of any new principle.
I only claim to have adopted the grinding process to the practical and continuous
operation of souring or cleaning the offal with auxiliary mill, adapted
to that purpose, and running very rapidly, and, by a simple construction
and arrangement, to have made the feeding of the offal uniform and perfect,
and that by those means all the difficulties here before encountered in
attempting to grind offal are entirely overcome... When the whole meal is
sent to the first stones and to the cooler (hopper-boy) the bran should
not be cut up so fine as when attempting to get all the flour from the wheat
by one grinding......The "offal" (middlings) after being reground,
is not "returned" to the "hopper-boy," or the first
bolts, but sent to the return or duster bolts." The miller may decided
to return the flour to the cooler (hopper-boy) or the first bolts, to be
incorporated into the superfine flour. In a custom mill the process would
be adapted so a small pair of millstones 20 to 24 inches would be sufficient
for regrinding the middlings driven by belting.
In Henry Pallett, "The Miller's Guide." he advocated three
methods of regrinding middlings, two similar to Oliver Evans' method, and
the third similar to that of David Bonnell's patented process method but
less harsh. Pattlett's third method was to use a special stones for middlings,
of 3 to 3 1/2 feet in diameter. The millstone texture is close and the dress
specifically different and the speed slower to 130 revolutions per minute.
The treatment of middlings is more gently reground and with less pressure
and heat than Bonnell's so less flour is likely to be killed. In David Craik,
"The Practical American Millwrights and Miller," he says,
"the greatest trouble in all large mills appears to be the working
of the middlings." Millers avoided grinding high (with the runner stone
set "high" above the bed stone), and they made one first-class
grade of flour and two or three grades of middlings. David Craik advocated
using one run of middling stones to regrind middlings into first-quality
flour. Then a second pair of middlings stones would mill the second middlings
into a second quality flour, or mixing the lower grades, depending upon
the quality of the middlings. A mill should have five pairs of wheat stones
and two pairs of middling stones with a six reel chest of bolts plus two
three reel chests and three flour coolers.
Oliver Evans hopper-boy was often installed in mills using the old flat
milling system and the automated process. It passed out of favor when the
"new process" changed from the "half-high milling" to
'high milling" in the second second half of the nineteenth century
(after 1870). In time force flour bolts and dusters would be designed to
separate the flour from the dust. Flour exhausts and new types of coolers
replaced Oliver Evans' hopper-boy to speed up production. The other of Oliver
Evans automatic devices continued to be installed to save time and labor.
A new process of milling would after 1860 be adopted, "gradual reduction"
or "high milling." which would go through several stages in its
evolution from the original to an adaption of the French process of milling
and bolting wheats.
According to John Storck and Walter Dorwin Teague's book, "Flour
for Man's Bread, A History of Flour Milling," believes that "new
process" milling main factor in its development was the purifier. So
according to their principals, "new process" milling began in
the 1870's, and there is no mention of David Bonnell's "improved process
of flour milling." There is a lot of information that we just don't
know about his period in history, but there is one thing that we do know,
as least during this time we now record the names of the millers more than
any other era in the history of milling.
Note: Thjis mill is one of the best examples of a "new process"
mill, it is the Caverns Creek Grist (Howes Cave or Bramanville) Mill, Howes
Cave, New York. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places
located on Caverns Road off Route 7, east of Cobleskill, New York. The mill
demonstrations that you do not have to have a large building to install
a "new process" flour milling system.
The mills has four pairs of millstones and an auxiliary pair of millstones
on an upper level. The mill was powered by four water turbines, that may
have been removed during one of the past world war scrap metal drives along
with the entire millstone drive train. This is unfortunate because it renders
the mill unable to operate or effectively grind grain.
Program's Source: Interpretive programs, slide lectures, and milling
sifting demonstrations by Theodore R. Hazen, Master Miller (mill operator),
Millwright, Curator of Molinology, Site Supervisor, and Lead Interpreter,
Pierce Mill, Rock Creek Park, National Park Service, National Capital Region,
The Department of the Interior, 1984-1995.
"Grist and Flour Mills in Ontario From Millstones to Roller
Mills, 1780's-1880's," by Felicity L Leung, Department of Canadian
Heritage, Parks Canada, 1976.
And other books mentioned in the above text.
Return to Home Page