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The Milling Experiences of My Life.

I was about the same age when I started working in my grandfather's mill.

The Milling Experiences of My Life,
Theodore R. Hazen

Venango Roller Mill

The Venango Roller Mill is the white building in the upper left center of the photo which was taken in the early 1900's. The name "Venango Roller Mill" was on this side of the roof in red color slate shingles. My father Theodore Hazen worked in the mill which produced one boxcar load of flour per day which was shipped out along the trolley car line. My father unload boxcars of grain, and loaded the boxcars with packaged flour. My father also worked for the Central Roller Mill in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Gravel Run Road goes over the bridge on French Creek below the old mill dam, and also over the mill race to the Roller Mill. Another factory or mill (if I remember right was a woolen mill) was located between the dam and the Venango Mill. Gravel Run Road joins into Cussewago Street to the right of the Venango Roller Mill, and the other mill which was also steam powered.

Joseph Blystone & H. J. Brookhauser's Venango Roller Mills.

My father, also named, Theodore had worked in the Venango Roller Mill when he was young man, and during the 1930's had worked building mill dams. One of the mill dams that he constructed was the mill dam at Drake's Mills. His father Emerson went from being a plumber to an hydraulic engineer, and became superintendent of the Erie Water Works. Emerson's brother Henry, was one of Waterford's first mail carriers, and wrote music, and played the violin. Their father William George was a music teacher later in life at a local college. My mother's father Stephen Cermak was a violin maker by his family trade. He worked as a lumberjack in the Pacific northwest when he first came to the United States in 1910. He became a millwright, and I know of a brick yard, and three flour mills that he had worked. He also had a small mill he for his own enjoyment that I helped him with when I was little.

I guess it is where milling got into my blood, when my father used to take us to Drake's Mill to get buckwheat flour. The water flowed down the mill race and operated the water turbines that ran the mill. I remember hearing the sounds of the mill operating as you walked up to the mill's loading dock. I remember once in driving around, that we ended up at the Venango Roller Mill. He took me around to the back of the mill where the huge water wheel once sat in the empty water wheel pit. The mill was run by water turbines when my father worked in the now silent mill, but I remember him talking how this big water wheel would have turned around in the inside of the mill being powered from waters from French Creek. My father worked unloading grain and loading flour in to boxcars on a siding of the old trolley car line that ran from Erie to Meadville.

After my father died, my grandfather came to live with us until he passed away. I remember him painting oil paintings of water and wind mills which was one of the things that he loved to paint besides steam locomotives. My grandfather Steve Cermak built a small tub mill with a local Italian man who owned some land next to the railroad tracks at the end of our street. A small stream ran underneath the railroad yard in a square passageway to the mill on the down stream side of the tracks. When the mill was not running the water could be diverted to a larger stream a short distance away. This is the same larger stream which the tail water of the little mill flowed. The mill had a single pair of millstones powered by a tub wheel underneath the mill. The mill ground soft wheat and corn. Almost everything was made out of wood. The water turned the wheel underneath,h and the upper millstone turned. The ground stuff was hand sifted, and I used to have that job, and filling the sacks. I remember my grandfather was always building some sort of mill parts, elevators or other devices.

After my grandfather passed away, a kid burned down the mill, and the local media reported that a barn was burned down by vandals. The mill was really too small to be called a barn. It was more like a shed. I remember the wooden round ball with a square base that sat underneath the water wheel, and acted as its bearing. We had an extra one they made sitting around the house for years afterwards. I remember after my grandfather died going the the mill, and the small house where the Italian man had a garden several times afterwards. We used to go blackberry picking around there. The Italian man had been in World War One. Then the man died, and we only when to visit his wife at their house in the next block from us. I never stepped foot on the property again, and then the mill burned down, I just never went back there.

One of the three mills that he had worked in was the Nickel Plate Mills, in Erie, Pennsylvania. The mill sat next to the railroad tracks and was a huge gray painted building. I never was in that mill, but I was in their feed mill across Parade Street many times. Another one of the mills was the Wesleyville Mill. I was in that my with my great uncle Henry who lived near the mill for a short time before it burned down in a fire. There were huge piles of spilled grain and dust covering everything in the mill. when the mill burned we could see the fire, a big black cloud of smoke rising into the air, three miles away from where we lived. The last mill, the Harborcreek Mill, I was only in that mill years later after it had been cleaned out of all of its machinery. This mill sat next to a small stream that flowed down and operated a small mill in a store along Route 20 in Harborcreek. This small mill is where I first dressed a small pair of millstones with Harry Moffat of Drake's Mill. Harry brought with him a mill pick they used at his mill.

My brother had a friend John King, and John had an old DeSoto car from the 1950's, and when we were teenagers we used to go together out in the country to look at mills. One of the mills we visited regularly was Clark's Mill usually on Saturdays. It was somewhere between Clark's Mills and Sandy Lake (I think it was actually around Stoneboro) in Mercer Country, Pennsylvania. The mill was owned by a man named William Vandergrift or Vandergort. When the mill operated, the entire mill first floor would shake violently. I would ask the owner, if something was wrong with the mill, and he would always answer, "Its okay." Finally one Saturday when we were there, I told him that it was not okay, and asked him for a flashlight. John and I went down to the dark basement, where my friend and I worked for a couple of Saturday afternoons putting wooden wedges back in place on the wooden gears and the water wheel. And doing the best that I could in the darkness to align things. The mill did run much quieter after that, and with less shaking. I only remember the millstones grinding corn meal and buckwheat flour while we go there. The mill was out in the country, and it was one of the few mills around that was water powered by a vertical wheel. On one of the millstone covers there was a dancing man. A wooden hinged man much like a lumberjack that was attached to the millstone cover, and who would only dance when the millstones were out of balance. He did not bounce around like he once did after that, but I often thought after we stopped going to the mill he soon found reason to dance once again.

Edinboro (Keystone) Mill Dam, Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

This mill dam was built by Frank Pulling to replace the previous mill dam that washed out in a flood about 1900. The mill dam is 86 feet long with flash boards across the top and a catwalk to access them. Keystone or Edinboro Mill stood to the right of the dam, and was dismantled in October of 1959. The dam is made out of concrete and sits on the site of the previous dam, there were 6 locations of dam sites going back up the Edinboro Lake Lagoon above where Mill Street once continued across from the Zortman's Flour & Feed Mill (removed), and now a city park. The mill dam created a 650 acre lake North of Edinboro.

When I went to Edinboro State College, in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, the small town at one time had five mills. One of my favorite mills in life was the Edinboro or Keystone Mill that was torn down when I was a kid. This was a Greek revival mill that was built by James Reeder and Isaac Taylor, on the site of Culbertson's Mill. In 1801 William Culbertson had John him a log tub mill on the site. The original mill dam was located up the creek above were Mill Street once continued straight across at Zortman's Mill.Someone thought that they could just push over the old mill, but they quickly learned that they had to dismantle it peg by peg. The mill had black cherry beams 18 by 18 inches square, some of them up to 50 feet long. The sad thing that it was tossed into a swamp for landfill. Two mills had disappeared before I was born, another mill a roller mill had been converted into a grange hall, and the other mill was the Washington Township Planning Mill or Lewis' Mill which was at that time part of Hobbs Lumber Company. Naturally I was drawn to the last operating mill in town, Zortman's Flour & Feed Company, located on Mill Street, just upstream of the old Keystone Mill site.

I was an art education student, and with a lot of rural buildings around everywhere even with farm buildings on campus, naturally I began filling a sketch book full of old structures. After a while it became evident that I had more mill drawings and notes about old mills. A college art education professor friend of mine, Dorn Howlett suggested to me that since you know so much about old mills, "why don't you write a book about them. Since you know so much about them." I went to the local libraries and found very little information about old mills, and milling technology. All I had was several milling books that came to me from my grandfather. Then there was another problem, you could not smoke, drink, eat food or play music in libraries. So I decided to go to the source to learn about old mills, the mills themselves, and the men who spent their lives working in them.

I began by going to Zortman's Mill in town, and to Drake's Mill in Drake's Mills about four miles away, or halfway between Edinboro and Cambridge Springs. At Zortman's Mill I met old Art Henry, Senior. He had worked at Zortman's Mill, and then before that at Keystone Mill. So Art began filled me in on answers to questions about two old mills. At Drake's Mill, I met Harry Moffat and his son "Red" or Clarence Moffat. Through my associations with these people I learned about other mills in the area, and in northwestern, and southwestern Pennsylvania. One man I met was a flour mill inspector who lived at Mitchell Lake not far from Drake's Mills. During World War Two, he was in the United States Army Engineers. When I first met him, he told me that he and his company of men stayed in England where it was perfectly safe! Then one day the Americans, and the English landed on the beaches of France, while other parachuted in. He and his company of men still stayed in England this whole time (where it was perfectly safe!) while the Germans were pushed out of France. Then the regular Army Engineers came in to built docks, roads, bridges, airstrips, and other routes of travel and supply. Then when it became perfectly safe in France, he and his company of men (who were in the United States Army Engineers) traveled around the French countryside working on the little mills so the French people could go back to grinding their own grain.

I learned about, and met a lady miller in an even smaller town than Edinboro, McKean, and the millers at Albion Mill in Albion. They made use of high school students during the afternoons who were enrolled in distributive education at Albion High School. Then there were other operating mills around in the fringes of New York, and Ohio, and of course wonderful millers, and mills located in Pennsylvania. Then there was the Central Roller Mill in the town where my father was born, Waterford, Pennsylvania.

I began to spend so much time at Zortman's Mill that they had agreed to make me their apprentice. I would go their regularly for years, working before they finally began to put cash in my hand once a week on Saturdays. One summer I took apart, cleaned and rebuilt the grain cleaner or receiving separator on the upper floor of the mill. I learned to repair the leather belts, and fix the elevators, and augers around the mill. During the time that I was working there we rebuilt the hammer mill, and an old attrition mill. One day we ground 28 thousand pounds of corn meal. Local farmers would buy the corn meal to feed baby pigs. We often ground flour, and meal for the Edinboro Natural Foods Coop in town. One day we ground dried peas and made pea flour for them to try and sell at the food store. Another time we ground soybeans and made raw soy flour for them. We did grind soft wheat, corn, and buckwheat. The roller system was a short roller milling system with only several breaks and few more reduction rollers. We ground only soft wheat and produced white flour. The primary bakery flour that we produced was pretzel flour, and white flour was also used by the local school system. This way the white or wheat flour business was basically shut down during the warm summer months when we would have problems with bugs associated with the wheat. We would store the bags of flour in a floor room which was a cold dark room with walls sealed so the rodents could not find they way inside. A lot of times we would use the hammer or attrition mill to grind whole wheat or corn meal to grind large quantities. Then there was a whole range of cattle, dairy, horse, hog, and chicken feeds we produced. I used to buy 5 pound sacks of cracked corn to go feed the ducks who lived year around at the duck bridge on Normal Street next to the old cheese factory that had been converted into a house where Ed Zessinger, the miller lived.

It was my job to clean the mill, and to keep the machinery going. We cleaned the work areas of the mill daily, and would clean the entire mill from top to bottom once a year. I would go with the truck driver Lloyd Wiley to get grain at either the local grain supplier at Fredonia, or help him unload boxcars on a railroad siding in Cambridge Springs. Sometimes I would go with Lloyd to deliver large amounts of animal (mainly dairy) feed to the local farmers. The mill in Fredonia is where we got most of our wheat and buckwheat. Occasionally we would get wheat and buckwheat from local farmers but they did not grow too much wheat in our part of the country any more. I enjoyed it when we bought buckwheat that came out of the fields around Edinboro College, because I had seen it grow, now I could clean and mill it. It was always a fun time when the college would have their homecoming. A local farmer was would bring a team of draft horses and a wagon to town. It was always my job to help him with the horses in the old carriage barn next to the mill that was a left over from the Robinson House, a former hotel in town. The neatest thing about the carriage house was the wagon elevator where you could raise wagons to be stored in the second floor of the building. It was powered by a large wooden windlass with a large diameter pulley and hand rope that looped around the pulley.

Edinboro was known for being a place of lake effect snow during the winter months that could last as long as 6 months. It was always my job to climb on a ladder to chop ice off the roof when it got several feet thick, and to climb down into the water turbine pit to chop ice away from the turbine shafts so they could freely turn when started. I was always afraid of falling though the ice. I knew that it was only a couple of feet deep of water, but it was just the idea of being down in the pit where it might be sometime before I was missed. The nicest thing about working in the mill during the winter was the heated office, and farm store attached to the front of the mill. Years before I worked at the mill, a siding came off the old trolley car line that when through town between the mill and a storage building to a coal tipple behind the mill. That would have make working their a real pleasure, not that it was not a pleasure already, but it would have been easier to have boxcars of grain come to the mill instead of us going out to get it. Some of the roads around Drake's Mill on Route 99 you had to ride the crown in the center of the road or you would loose the top of your load off the moving truck. I was the weight master for the mill, and sometimes I would have a running battle with the rats who got on the balance beams underneath the scale platform. The dial inside of the mill outside of the flour room would go spinning wildly one direction and then another until the rodent decided to get off. Sometimes I would go out to the wooden scale platform even with the road surface and jump in it to scare off the rat. I knew I looked very comical but what else could I do, I was not about to lift up the wooden boards on the platform and confront these huge river rats.

Ed and I would regularly feed the birds and squirrels. Mainly we did this to keep them from coming into the mill looking for grain, and they often would find it outside spilled on the ground. In the years that I worked at the mill, for a long time we did not have a mill cat. Then one day Charlie Zortman got a couple of cats for the mill. It made a big difference in the rodent problem in the mill. It also gave us more company to have around when things got slow, and when the weather got bad. Ed used to go down to the sub-sub basement where the turbine pit was located to shoot rats sometimes during lunch with an old 22 caliber pistol with a long barrel. The cats and I always stayed upstairs and we all knew that cats don't hunt rats. One of the cats we had when it came to the mill appeared not to know about mice. It would sit there while mice ran by it. So Ed caught some baby mice in a glass jar and I fed them to the cat one at a time. Then finally after it ate the last one, I told the cat that the free meal was over. You have to go and catch your own from now on, and she was find after that. Both cats were females and that is the type of cat you want at an old mill. At one time Drake's mill had 22 cats and kittens. Farmers who would come around the mill would always take one to become a barn cat. A lot times a barn cat is a male cat, and we hung on to the good mouse catchers. Charlie fed the cats milk, water and dried cat food to supplement their diet of mice.

The cleanest mill in the world at one time was F. A. Drake's Mill. You could eat off of the floor it was so clean. Drake's Mill ground soft wheat, and produced white flour using a short roller milling system of Case Roller Mills. They had a Wolf Roller Mill and a pair of millstones to grind buckwheat flour and corn meal. The mill also had a hammer mill to grind animal feeds, and was also used to produce large quantities of whole wheat flour and corn meal. They had a fine mesh screen that the hammers could push the material through that looked similar to stone ground. After all, a nationally sold brand which is labeled as "stone ground" is actually produced by a hammer mill. Officially Drake's Mill stopped selling flour about 1960, but unofficially it still produced flour and mixes for local customers. They got into problems years ago because they were shipping it across interstate boarders. So then after wards it was just quietly sold just out of the door.

Zortman Mill and Drake's Mills were sister mills. This meant when one mill broke down, they would more the entire milling operation to the other mill that was still operating. Then the two mills could buy larger amounts of grain and ingredients together to get a good price deal. This were usually delivered to a railroad siding in Cambridge Springs, near Turner's Mill or the old (other) Drake's Mill. We would work together to unload each others sacks from a boxcar. It was always an adventure when Red Moffat showed up with one of the mill's trucks loaded with grain to spend the day with us. Often it would last several days, or I would be shipped to Drake's Mills for a similar period of time. Drake's Mill had its interesting period of daily life during the winter months too. The mill burned coal and corn cobs in a furnace down in the mill's basement that heated the miller's office through radiator pipes. We would start the fire with corn cobs. At any given time we could bag on average 25 hundred pound sacks full of corn cobs from the basement, where the corn sheller threw them out. The corn cobs were easy to light, they would burn very hot, and leave very little ash to remove. Once the fire got going all you did was to toss on some coal, and leave it go for a while. At times when I later worked at Peirce Mill I would start the fire in the pot belly stove that which would fill the mill with a wonderful smell of burning corn cobs. The heat of the machinery operating would then heat up the rest of the mill. Speaking of corn cobs, once Ed gave me a wonderful corn cob pipe. It was one like I had never seen, and I laid it on a window ledge and someone walked away with it.

Besides learning how to dress millstones from Harry Moffat, I would go down to visit with Paul Roth at Roth Milling Company in Prospect, Pennsylvania, on Maple Street. The mill used a pair of millstones to grind the chop from a Case Roller Mill. This was also the basic way that buckwheat flour was ground at Drake's Mill. The mill did produce white flour from soft wheat using a short roller milling system. The mill also ground corn meal, and was mainly know for its corn and buckwheat products. One of the dearest and sweetest men that I have known in my life was Harry Moffat. I loved the sound of his voice and could listen to him speak about mills for hours. Paul Roth was a fifth generation miller who knew a lot of English milling terms for our American ones. From Paul I learned that you could rebuilt an old piece of milling machinery, and have it operate better than something brand new that his son Paul would rather buy out of a milling catalog. When I would spend a day with Paul, often we would spend just as much time at his home as the mill. Paul knew just how long it would take the miller's helpers to sack and back what he would grind, and put into bins for them to bag. We would often go off to talk about mills, or when I would come to visit him at the mill, all I would have to do is look in one of the bins, and I would instinctively know Paul would be off fishing.

Another mill that I would visit when I was staying in another part of Pennsylvania, was Mathews Mill in Jones Mill, Pennsylvania. I would help Mr. Mathews run the mill while his son was off delivering bags of buckwheat to the Pittsburgh area. The mill at one time had millstones, but they were taken out by Mr. Mathews father before he came to work at the mill. The mill when I knew it, had only two stands of Case Roller Mills for grinding buckwheat flour and pancake mix. During this time I would often make a visit to the grist mill at Saint Vincent's College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, or try and see Brants Mill in Rolling Rock Farms operate. The miller who worked in a mill in Mount Pleasant would come there one day a month to grind flour and meal on this Fitz Water Wheel powered millstone grist mill. This small little stone mill had the traditional millstone platform and a meal box in front it with a grain loft above the stones. Then I loved also to go to Hopkins Mill in Garrettsville, Ohio, to spend time with the millers and get bags of buckwheat flour. They were the only mill around that had a automated flour bag line and it was fun to watch working. The once a year pilgrimage was to the Burnt Cabins Mill in Burnt Cabins in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, to get bags of buckwheat flour and pancake mixes. I regularly lived on New Hope Mills, buckwheat flour from Moravia, New York. I grew up with a member of the Weed family, who lived only a few blocks away, and very early on knew about their wonderful buckwheat flour.

We used to go down to the eastern shore of Maryland during the summer. I loved stopping at the Linchester Mill in Linchester, outside of Preston, Maryland. I remember seeing Frank Langrell, and his son-in-law Bob Glessner operate the mill. This mill was built in 1680, and another mill nearby the Wye Mill in Wye Mills was built in 1664, but that mill at that time was operated by the local college students, and did not have the flavor of the old Linchester Mill, a.k.a. Murray's Mill, Langrell's Mill, or Upper Hunting Creek Mill. Frank Langrell died just after the mill stopped operating, when the dam washed out, and then in it seemed not too long afterwards Mr. Glessner also died. In the passing of time I have known Captain Langrell's daughter Mildred Glessner the longest.

I used to come down from Pennsylvania in the 1970's to learn how to operate a windmill from the late William "Bill" Heath, the miller at the Spokott Wind Mill, Lloyds, Maryland. The Spokott Wind Mill was rebuilt about 1972 by Jim Richardson who was a local shipbuilder in the Cambridge, Maryland area. The mill rebuilt using the original post. I used to call my visits my milling vacations. I would stay at a campground, and people would give us crabs that they caught from the Chesapeake waters. I never knew what to do with them, and would not think about eating these non-Kosher creatures. I would thank the people, and sometimes give the stuff to someone else. If it was still living, I would quietly release it back into the water when no one else was around. Sometimes I would go down to visit with Bill, and there would not be enough wind to operate the mill, or there would be other reasons why the mill did not operate. I would help this 83 year old man put up the sails on the wind mill, and in no time buses would line up along the highway, or road next to the mill, the miller's house, and other buildings on the property. Most of the time we just ground corn, and once we ground millet. Sometimes it was just what people brought Bill Heath to have ground by the wind mill. I would lift up the steps of the post wind mill when the wind changed, and turn the mill back into the wind. I would do what he told me to do because he was running the show. I was just along to watch, and learn from this wonderful man. It would be years later, until it almost became time for Neal Black to retire after more than thirty years as the miller at Robertson's Windmill at Colonial Williamsburg, was I finally able to spend time personally with him while he operated the wind mill ,and ground corn for me to observe the mill starting and stopping.

After Zortman's Mill closed down, they sold off all of the machinery to be used in other mills. It was very sad time for me to go in the mill to see the work stations that Ed Zessinger and I had spent so much of our lives working in, now cleaned out, and empty to the bare walls. I used to stop by the mill,l and visit with Charlie Zortman, Jr., when ever I would see him in the mill's office doing one thing or another. Then Harry Moffat had fallen on the ice on the road crossing from the mill one day, the doctor told him that he could no longer throw hundred pound sacks around. I used to work my butt off to keep up with this man when I was in my twenties and he was in his early eighties. So I turned my attention to helping Clarence (his son) stay out of the red, and keep the mill going as long as possible. I had even at one time hoped to buy the Drake's Mill, restore it, and keep it operating on water power like it used to be, but that never quite worked out. I left the area to go restore and work on a water turbine powered roller mill in southwestern Virginia.

I was hired to be the miller at Silver Dollar City's new grist mill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, that would later become Dollywood. The problem was that the mill was not yet finished, so I was put to work doing metal castings. However, I left there to go to work at a real mill. I worked as a seasonal miller at the John P. Cable Mill in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This was a small grist mill that once had two pairs of millstones, and when the National Park Service restored the mill, they tore down the miller's office in an adjacent building where a pot belly stove heated it, and removed the pair of wheat stones. The mill was powered by a wooden overshot water wheel, and a system of simple metal gears that operated a single pair of millstones that made bolted corn meal. The corn meal was sold in sacks in the Cades Cove Visitors Center nearby. I learned a lot about operating a water power millstone mill from the mill's longtime miller Pete Tipton. I overfilled a notebook of notes, and information about how to operate the mill, and interpret it while I was there. The mill had its millstones dressed once a year during the off season my the a man who worked for the park's maintenance department who had built a mill in Pittman Center, Tennessee. I also visited the Mingus Mill on the North Carolina side of the park to learn about how that mill operated. I used this as the basic information in my interpretive programs when I would later work at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, in Washington, D.C.

I then lived in South Carolina for several years. During this time of living outside of Kings Mountain National Military Park. I worked a job that was effected by the weather. So at times I would go to help a man who had a mill in his backyard outside of Blacksburg, South Carolina, or other times I painted murals in the elementary school that my son attended. The mill was a Meadows Mill that was in a garage, and was powered by an old car or truck engine. The problem with the mill was that it was over power by the internal combustion engine so it was a real trick to keep the thing grind correctly on one of the lower gears. We ground corn, and made corn meal. I tried to convince the man that I would help him set up the mill using another system of power that perhaps could run the mill better, but he was too old at that time to begin ripping things apart and starting over. Living in Tennessee, South Carolina, and on the North Carolina border, I was exposed to the world of Meadows Mills. In my part of northwestern Pennsylvania, they were basically unknown. In the country were I grew up in Erie County, Fitz Water Wheels were generally also unknown. My grandfather talked about them, but no body else I would later meet or work with in the milling business there. The only water wheel operating in the country that I knew of was on the North East Cider and Vinegar Works, outside of North East. The mill had an early Fitz or really it was an I-X-L Overshot Water Wheel with red wooden buckets. The mill which was originally a Presbyterian church that was moved a mile to become a water powered cider mill. Water was supplied to the mill by a round wooden pipe. My brother and I used to play in the empty vats at the cider mill when we would visit it.

My next milling experience lasted 11 years, working for the National Park Service at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, in Washington, D.C. The mill is a 40 by 50 foot, 4 story Oliver Evans mill that was built in 1820. When I came to work there in September 1984, the mill had been broken down for 5 years. Some of the machinery had not worked in 30 years, and some of it had never worked. I spent 6 months just getting the mill to were it would run and operate once again. I had to redress the millstones that had be incorrectly dressed by the previous miller. I had to realign the gears and renew a lot of the bearings. I had to replace all of the sifter screens, and as well as a lot of the elevator cups. I replaced all of the leather belting in the mill, and used more period approbate by using leather lacing rather than an early twentieth century metal alligator clip lacing. I had to develop interpretive programs over again, and to establish health standards for the flour milling operation. I recruited and train volunteers, did research into period approbate costumes for the miller and his helpers, and made costumes. I worked with a volunteer and together we made clothing for all of us. The previous incarnation of the milling demonstrations at the mill, they were interpreting the mill incorrectly as to the time period that it was restored to represent. The mill was restored in mid-1930's to look like it was when it was first constructed in 1820. However, the miller and in helpers were interpreting the mill as if it had represented the late 1890's when the mill was last operating historically before it broke down, and they were wore the period costumes of that period, the 1890's.

When I went to work at Peirce Mill, Robert A. Howard was the mill's consulting engineer. Robert Howard was the engineering curator at the Hagley Museum and Library in Greenville, Delaware, and he also had his own company, the Howard Company. The basic plan was that I was to do the minor daily repairs that the mill needed and Mr. Howard would come in to do the major work that the mill needed. However, I soon took over his job and did all of the work that the milling machinery needed until it finally broke down in April of 1993. The pit or greater face gear had rotten to the point where it broke apart and could no longer be held in place on a water wheel shaft that had rotten on the inside. Robert Howard gave me a bit of advice when I came to work at the mill. He told me to only report my success stories, and to greatly down plan any failures, which seem to work over the long haul of my employment with the National Park Service.

At Peirce Mill I got the center 56 inch French Millstone to grind flour once again. It had not been used in 30 years and the last miller Bob Batte could never get it to grind properly so he used the two outside pairs of millstones while he was there. I used it to grind hard and soft wheat, rye, oats, rice, barley, and buckwheat. It was a great pair of millstones that had been purchased in 1880 from a dealer in Georgetown, and brought to the mill. I think the used pair of millstones had came out of the Blagdon Mill or Argyle Mill that was just about Peirce Mill because it was at the same time that its millstones were removed and when to be reused in another mill. The stone of that diameter, and weight ground grain wonderfully. It was just always a happy sounding grind. Once a piece of tramp metal got into the stones and it spit it out like a shooting star burning out before it hit the flour bin. The mill also has a pair of Berks County, Pennsylvania conglomerate millstones that was installed in the mill in the 1970's restoration to replace a pair of French Millstones. The other pair of French millstones were cracked and could no longer be used. The conglomerate pair of millstones was a smaller diameter, and could grind almost as well at the French Millstones. I used it to grind most days since it was easier to lift by myself using the millstone crane, and cleanup after each day's grinding demonstrations. In rebuilding the Peirce Mill Bridge on Tilten Street over Rock Creek, the workers uncovered a lot of old French millstone burr blocks buried in the fill more than likely that had been previous used in the mill.

Rye and buckwheat produces the most dust when you grind. It tended to cover everything in the mills on days when it was ground. The dust from buckwheat and corn are not explosive like that of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. I love the smell of rye flour dust, but grinding buckwheat is my favorite grain to grind. You need finer screens to sift out the silky gray flour. Over the 11 years that I worked at the mill I had 56 volunteers. Some of them helped me to run and operate the mill. I basically requited them, trained them in interpretation and in the mill's operation, maintenance, bagging the products, and keep the mill clean. I usually had at least one Parks and History Association employee that I would dress in a miller's costume and they would help me run and operate the mill besides selling the sacks that we would produce.

I ground soft wheat and produced cake and pastry flour. Then I ground a blend of 50-50 hard and soft wheat to produce all-purpose unbleached white flour. Originally I ground soft wheat and made whole wheat flour, but then it became possible to get hard wheat so I used just the hard wheat to grind whole wheat flour. Then I used the hard wheat to grind high gluten flour that I also sifted out the wheat germ. I did do some tempering and condition of the wheat, but that was in the traditional old miller's method. I used water to sprinkle in a bin on the mill's second floor above the millstones. I also used a clean hand spray bottle to spray the wheat in the millstone hopper just before it was ground. Many other millers at nearby demonstration mills used a metal trash can, and water to temper the wheat, but I never felt a need to do that method. I ground rye and produced whole rye flour, rye meal, light and medium rye flours (pumpernickel flour), bohemian rye flour which was blend of rye and wheat, rye cereal and bran. I have ground barley and produced barley meal and cereal, but that was never a big sales item. I have ground buckwheat and produced buckwheat flour, buckwheat cereal, buckwheat grits and buckwheat hulls. I sold buckwheat cereal and hunter's cereal which is a blend of buckwheat and wheat cereals together. I ground unhulled and hulled oats and produced oat flour, oat meal and bran. Originally I could not buy hulled oats and could only grind the whole oats. It became easier to grind the hulled oats than having to deal with the oat hulls. Buckwheat hulls are used for stuffing pillows and Japanese dolls, for compost and by hunters to cover their sent when setting traps. The problem with the oat hulls is that is not a digestible food stuff, rabbits won't even consider it for bedding. I ground rice and produced rice flour and rice grits. I sold the rice flour along with the buckwheat flour because it had no gluten in it for people who were gluten allergic and to make noodles and pasta. The rice grits were used by the National Park Service to sandblast the statures in the squares and circles of Washington. The rice grits could clean up the dirt and grime off of the statures without harming the metal. I have produced various pancake mixes, and bread mixes, etc., using the formulas that I learned while working at Zortman's Flour & Feed Mill and F. A. Drake's Mill. Most of the time I mixed together different ingredients according to measured amounts, and other times I would used the ring of flour that lay around the millstones that had been mixed together by a days of grinding different types of grains. Why should I throw out 25 to 30 pounds of flour mixed together when I could bag, and sell it as pancake mix.

The Millstone Grinding Room in the Bunker Hill Mill,
County Route 26, Bunker Hill vicinity, Berkeley County, West Virginia.

One of my favorite trips out of Washington, D.C., was to visit with the late Paul Giles who ran and operated West Virginia's oldest mill built in 1735 by Thomas Anderson. The mill was rebuilt in 1887 and known as Cline & Chapman Roller Mill. The mill was operated by two Fitz tandem water wheels as the Bunker Hill Mill.

One day Jeff Rainey, the miller at the Colvin Run Mill asked me what I knew about sharpening the millstones by using clean white sand. I told him I had read about it in Oliver Evans' "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide," and that I had never heard of anyone actually ever doing it. It may have been a good idea at one time, but created a real mess and smell in the mill. After all it was only a temporary fix for the miller who did not have time to stop, and have the stones dressed in the mill. Then there was the problem of having to super purge the millstone and system of all of that sand. So Charlie Howell came down from New York State and discovered that in the 750 thousand dollar mill restoration of the late 1960's, early 70's that they had installed the millstones with the furrows running backwards. That is why the millstones never ground right since the mill had opened for the public in 1972, and Charlie straightened them out for them.

During my time at Peirce Mill, I built elevators, bins, conveyors, and a flour bolter. I got the sack hoist to operate were it had never operated before. Bob Batte wrote in the miller's log book that it would never work. I reinstalled the smutter that had been removed from the machinery system and was being interpreted by the staff who worked there before me as a molasses maker. I used the entire Oliver Evans system of automated flour milling including the hopper-boy to cool the flour. I had a problem of not having enough power and water available to properly run and operate the mill and all of its machinery. There was limited water available with the second system of power they installed using city water and pumps. They way underestimated the amount of water it would take to run the mill so it was always under power. Stephen Kindig was surprised to hear that I could grind anything at all. Basically there was not enough power to grind anything with a single pair of millstones and be able to elevate it up the elevator and have it moving fast enough to throw it out on top. The stuff kept falling down the back downward leg and would in time jam up the system. So the automated mill of Oliver Evans had to be operated in stages in a noncontinuous operating process. Not quite what Mr. Evans had envisioned but Peirce Mill is the most complete example of an Oliver Evans automated mill in existence. Most of the flour that I sold at Peirce Mill was sold in 2 pound cloth sacks. Some things sold in 5 pound sacks, and once and a while people would want a 10 pound sack. It was easier to just keep 20 or 25 pounds of flour in the paper bag in which the grain came in for just those times that it needed to be specially bagged to make someone happy. When I worked at Zortman's Mill, most of the flour was sold in 5, 10, 25 and 50 pounds. Once and a while at Zortman's Mill, someone would want a 100 pound sack of corn meal. The type of flour we are dealing with here is family flour. Flour used directly by families and not generally used for bakeries. Occasionally bakeries would want large quantities of corn meal, but they wanted it courser, more like grits that they used underneath and on top of loaves of bread.

At Peirce Mill, the flour was being sold as an interpretive souvenir. On the back of the cloth sack it said, "Keep refrigerated or place in a freezer," and "this produce made for demonstration purposes only." This mean that we took every care to produce the product as we could possible do. We maintain health standards, and use the product in cooking demonstrations and at our own homes. In the process of our mill we are able to more closely watch what goes in to each bag than in a modern mill but things happened. So if you eat it and get sick you do it under your own risk. If push came to shove, they (the National Park Service) would rather that I throw it out, or haul what was ground to Oxen Hill Farm to feed their animals. I did that once, got to the maintenance yard to get a truck and haul something to Oxen Hill Farm and return the truck. Then once I gave it to the farm, they complained that, "you grind it too find to really feed the animals, they don't like it so fine." It was easier to toss out in the garbage anything that became old or buggy. So I was always walking a delicate line between keeping the powers-to-be in the National Park Service, and keeping the local group of people happy who regularly bought flour from the mill. My personal feeling was that if the mill broke down, and could no longer produce flour, that after a period of time that it was restored once again, the mill would no longer produce flour for visitor sales. In the future what the mill would grind would always be discarded afterwards. I hate do say it but that was the direction that things were moving with the mills on the National Park Service properties. Peirce Mill was the last of them, Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mingus Mill, and the Cable Mills were all selling stuff that was milled in modern mills. The grinding would be a demonstration only, and the product would no longer be around for sale. After the mill did break down in April of 1993, I tried to get the Parks and History Association to possibly buy ground grains from other mills, and I would repackage in the mill's flour sacks. Mabry Mill at Milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, annually sells a million bags of corn meal, grits and buckwheat flour. New Hope Mills in Moravia, New York, sends down 72 thousand, two pound bags of buckwheat flour twice a year to be sold as Mabry Mill flour. The corn meal and grits come from another commercial flour mill. Then there was the other idea of getting an electrically driven pair of millstones so at least grinding demonstrations could have continued until the money was acquired, and the politics about restoring the mill changed. I could not see a means of installing an electric motor to run the machinery that was in the mill. I continued to use table top hand grinders, hand sifters, and corn shellers with school tours that came to the mill. I tried to deal with the federal health standards the best that I could. I went so far as to write them myself so I knew that I could maintain them with no problems.

In my millstone dressing, I have ground hard wheat using Meadows Mills, and other types of vertical and horizontal burr mills. I have installed a pair of Meadows millstones horizontally in a mill that is water powered by an overshot water wheel, and I think they operate better than being vertically powered by electricity. The North Carolina granite stone that is used in the Meadows Mills is fine for grinding corn, but is really too soft for wheat, especially for grinding hard wheat.

1. Where have you worked when milling white unbleached flour? I have worked at Zortman's Flour & Feed Company, and Peirce Mill. When I lived in Pennsylvania, if someone would have asked about hard wheat, we would have answered, "Oh, we can't get that around here!" Hard wheat was something that was only of the Midwest for a long time. It was not until about the time that I started working at Peirce Mill did it become available in some places. I had a friend who had a mill outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, who used to drive to the Mississippi River. He would sweep it out of empty grain barges, and haul it back to his mill. The General Mills plant in Johnson City, Tennessee, would not have hard wheat to grind unless they brought in a railroad tank car of it each day to the mill. At Peirce Mill, I used to get it from Hoffman Mill in Boonesboro, Maryland, and when the changed ownership, the new owners would not sell grain to these little demonstration mills any longer. Wilkins Rogers would only sell soft wheat to us. The hard wheat was too valuable to them, even to mix in equal amounts of all-purpose flour. So I ended up getting it from a local Iams pet food supply dealer in the Washington, D.C ., area. He could get all sorts of grains that I could ever think about milling in any quantity. Sometimes it was hard to get a certain grain but if I gave them a bit of extra time, they could come up with it.

2. What experience do you have in long flow roller mill operations, milling wheat to white flour? I have been in a number of large merchant or commercial flour mills that used a long roller mill system, but the mills that I have worked in all used a short roller system, or a "very" short roller milling system. Basically 3 breaks and 3 reductions. We mill only soft wheat. The only hard wheat I have milled has only been on millstones, and burr mills. In the average small mills of the east, or the mid-Atlantic States, if you mention long roller system of grinding wheat, they would tell you that is a system that is used in England. So I grew up in a world of milling whose basic principle said that less or serve milling produced better flour.

3. Do you have experience in tempering wheat for proper extraction, and less starch damage? I have done a lot of tempering of wheat at Peirce Mill, but working in other mills, it was something that the old miller's of yesterday did, and at that time was no longer practiced. I have never used moisture indicators, or worked in a mill that has an automatic moistening device. I have used the traditional miller's method of hand testing the grind to determine the moisture level, the particle size, and the shape of the bran flakes. I attended classes at the Smithsonian on bread, and the woman presenting the program claimed that the only mill in the United States that she could find the proper flour was Great Valley Mills North of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have never personally visited the mill to see for myself.

4. Do you have experience in arriving at proper ash levels in unbleached flour? No, it was never an issue, or a point of importance in the mills that I worked in to know the proper ash levels in flour. None of the bakeries that used our flour was concerned with ash levels. Ash, and protein levels was more of an issue when it came to making and mixing animal feeds. At one time the mid-Atlantic States had mom and pa bakeries but they gradually disappeared, and any bakery goods the stores sold came from distance states. Where I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, I remember mostly Polish and Slovak bakeries. Then they disappeared, and what few bakery operations were around were large bleached white marshmallow automated bread operations, and they buy their flour in tanker railroad cars or trailer trucks. Zortman's Mill closed because the owner Charlie Zortman wanted to retire and the pretzel bakery closed. The only bakery operations around these days are the organically grown stone ground hard wheat combination "mill - bakeries" that grind 50 pound sacks of Montana wheat, and who turn around and bake it into loaves of bread. When I left Washington, D.C., in July of 1995, there were 6 of these type of bakeries in the area. There was a so-called "Old World" bakery in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, that claimed that they could not find European style flour in America, and imported all they used. They mailed out their breads over night using United Parcel Service, but I never had personally tried their bread.

During my time at Peirce Mill I participated in a millers exchange program. There was a number of demonstration mills in the area: Peirce Mill, the Colvin Run Mill, the Burwell-Morgan Mill, the George Washington Grist Mill, the Stratford Hall (Lee) Mill, Union Mills, Wye Mills, Abbott's Mill, and the Rock Run Mill. Then there was the Ashland Mill, Hearns & Rawlins Mill, Dayett Mills, Wilkins Rogers Mill, Ceresville Mill, and Hoffman's Mill.

I went to the nearby Colvin Run Mill along Route 7, in Great Falls, Virginia. There I spent time with their miller Jeff Rainey. The Colvin Run Mill ground soft wheat on one pair of millstones, and out of that produced whole wheat flour to cake and pastry flour. It ground corn into corn meal, and it also ground buckwheat flour. Jeff Rainey also ground rye for a time. The mill was water powered by a 20 foot diameter wooden overshot water wheel. Another time I went to the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia, and spent a day with the miller David Via. David was a stone cutter by trade, and I learned a great deal about the problems that the mill had because it was restored by an individual who was not qualified to do the job. The wooden gears that operated the mill came from a nearby Jackson's Mill, and at the time they were relocated to the Burwell-Morgan Mill. The gear teeth were worn out to the point of being scalloped on both sides where the teeth should have had shoulders. The mill could not operate for 20 minutes without breaking a gear tooth. Over the 20 some years since the mill was restored, they had spend thousands of dollars to have new teeth made that were already worn out beyond the point of usefulness. A previous miller at the mill tried to improve the grinding ability of the mill by taking out one of the rungs of the lantern pinions making the gear smaller in diameter. This just simply made it harder for the gears to mesh together, and freely operate. He was trying to increase the speed of the mill, but simply messed it up further. David Via and I toured the Williams Brothers. Mill in Kent, Ohio. Jeff Rainey and David Via have both left their miller positions, when to work in other professions. The Colvin Run Mill is no longer operating and the Burwell-Morgan Mill as been recently restored once again.

I could never arrange a time to spend with the miller at Union Mills outside of Westminster, Maryland. They had a problem keeping a miller because they paid minimum wage with no benefits, and treaded him so poorly. Jeff Rainey and I were both able to spend a day at the Hoffman Mill or Kline Brother's Mill outside of Boonesboro, Maryland. It is a commercial roller mill that has Allis-Chalmers Roller Mills. While the mill was operating that day, we both were given the task of making flow charts of the mill. Jeff Rainey had problems walking around the moving plainsifters and had to leave that floor of the mill. Another day I spent was at the William Kelly and Sons mill or the Ceresville Mill in Ceresville, Maryland. This was before Mr. Kelly retied and shortly afterwards pass away. The mill is an beautiful stone building from the eighteenth century with a roller milling system that ground soft wheat white flour. The mill also had one pair of millstones that was used to grind corn meal. The mill picks were hung on the millstone crane by leather loops attached to the wood.

In several groups we spent another day at the Wilkins Rogers Mill in Ellicott City, Maryland. There we were given flow charts, and other handout material, and taken on guided tours of the mill that lasted most of the day. At one point one of the men who was in charge of the milling operation asked me how much grain that we grind at the Peirce Mill. I told him that I mainly grind for demonstrations only, and as need for sales. That on a good day I might grind 4 or 5 hundred pounds, sometimes less, and if it was an event about 1,200 pounds a day. Their mill that had been at one time located in the old Pioneer Flour Mill in Georgetown. Now their mill was grinding 125 thousand pounds every 24 hours on the site of the old Ellicott Mills. He laugh when I told him how much we grind and said, "At Peirce Mill we don't grind flour we grind history." I got a lot of mileage out of that statement, by using it in interpretive programs. In may ways he was right, we "did" grind out more words than grain. The Wilkins Rogers Mill moved two pairs of millstones from the old mill in Georgetown, and relocated them to the old Diamond Donut factory, along with two Meadows Mills. They separate the millstones so far apart that it does not get stone ground, and they actually grind it down into corn meal by a roller mill system where it needs to be enriched. The white flour that they produce being all-purpose bleached white flour is actually made out of a blend of 25 percent hard wheat and 75 percent soft wheat as opposed the the standard 50-50 blend of hard, and soft wheat for all-purpose white flour. In the the mills laboratory, I learned one of the main reasons besides redevelopment that they were moved out of Georgetown, was because of the cleanliness of the milling operations. Even in their new mill they are always bordering on being shut down because of having too much filth and other matter mixed into the flour and grain that they grind. When I lived in the Washington, D.C., area I tried some of their products and did not like them. The Festival of American Folk Life learn that you cannot make moonshine mash using their enriched Indian Head brand of corn meal.

How Flour is Milled (A Simplified Diagram). This is the generic flour milling flow chart that was handed out to us on our one day tour of Wilkins Rogers Flour Milling Company in Ellicott City, Maryland. It is a standard hand-out issued by the wheat and flour milling industry. On the back of this double-sided paper is a cut away drawing of a wheat kernel.

Some of the most happiest and valuable time I spent on the millers exchange program was at the Wye Mill with the late (Emily) Barton McGuire. When I first started going there, the mill was only using a table top Meadows Mill, that she would used to grind flour and meal. The small 8 inch diameter pair of millstones was also something that Barton had provided. I learned that Meadows Mills just don't do well grinding buckwheat because of the hulls. The hulls tend to build up in the mill, and are spit out in big clumps. In time the mill's water wheel was rebuilt, and we could grind using the pair of millstones to grind soft wheat, rye, buckwheat and corn. I also tried to help Barton to put the Midget Marvel Mill back together that someone had taken apart. We discovered that some of the pieces were missing. Midget Marvel Mills were made by the Anglo-American Milling Company in Owenboro, Kentucky, and are self-contained "very short system" roller mills. I have been a number of mills that have the Midget Marvel mills that were designed to grind wheat or corn. At Zortman's Mill we had two of them for producing Pennsylvania style of "pretzel flour." From the grain cleaner upstairs in the main mill building the wheat went into one of the huge room size store bins in the second floor. Then the wheat was moved through a long auger along the ceiling of the bag storage addition to one of the small rooms in the far back section of the mill. There the wheat went in on the top and on the bottom the finished flour came out after going through the roller milling and other machinery inside of the single machine. This type of flour was made across the state. In Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania, they make Pennsylvania Dutch style corn meal made from roasted corn meal. It is run through a peanut roaster before it is milled in a dark, aromatic peanut flavored corn meal which does not get buggy. A large part of the Fitz Water Wheel Company's business was making wire weaving machinery and corn roasters.

From the Wye Mill, Barton and I would travel regularly to the Hearns & Rawlins Mill on Old Route 13, three miles North of Seaford, Delaware. There I spent time with the Moore's family miller Charles McCormick. The mill once operating using two Fitz Water Wheels grinding corn on millstones and a burr mill, making corn meal, buckwheat into buckwheat flour and pancake mix. The mill also used a short roller milling system, and produced unbleached white flour. The mill's main product was used by the local scrabble industry. I also got to witness one day the Dayett Mills on the Old Baltimore Pike at Coochs Bridge which has a Wolf Roller Milling system powered by a 100 horse power ball turbine just before the old miller retired. Their main flour product was used to produce a local style beaten biscuit. The final day trip was to spend a day with Charles Howell at the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills in North Tarrytown, New York, now Sleepy Hollow. The Philipsburg Mill has two pairs of millstones, and it grinds soft wheat and corn. It is hand sifted on a simple crank bolting screen in the mill's addition. There they do the full living history program, and put the mill's product in cotton sacks or wooden barrels. Then later in the basement of the visitors center the containers are opened, and it is sacked into the paper sacks that are sold in the visitors center. After Barton McGuire suddenly passed away, I would travel with the then retired Charles Howell, until he too suddenly passed away, and the idea of outside learning faded away after Peirce Mill broke down. One of the day trips that Charlie Howell, and I made was to the 1788 Tuthilltown Grist Mill, Albany Post Road, Gardiner, New York. There we spent the day with George Smith, Jr. to learn the operation of the mill's stone ground Kosher bulk flour milling operations. The mill ground soft wheat on Belgian man-made millstones that was used in making unleavened bread at Passover. The mill had its original French millstones removed because of the lead in the balance rynd, and 5 pairs of Belgian millstones installed by George Smith, Sr. The mill spent 3 months of the year making Kosher flour what was blown into two bulk storage tanks, and then it was hauled into New York City in tanker trailers.

I have experience and expertise in flour milling, and have spent hours and days at other mills observing their interpretive and milling demonstration programs. I have ground hard and soft wheats, blended and tempered and conditioned wheat using traditional methods, and have produced whole wheat flour, graham flour, all purpose flour, unbleached white flour, cake and pastry flour, bread flours, wheat cereals, middlings, and bran. I have ground rye and produced whole rye flour, rye meal, light and medium rye flours, bohemian rye flour, rye cereal and bran. I have ground oats and produced oat flour, oat meal and bran. I have ground corn and produced corn meal, corn flour, corn grits, and corn bran. I have ground barley and produced barley meal and cereal. I have ground buckwheat and produced buckwheat flour, buckwheat cereal, buckwheat grits and buckwheat hulls. I have ground rice and produced rice flour and rice grits. I have produced various pancake mixes and bread mixes, etc. I have also ground soy beans, green peas and millet. I know it takes much more knowledge and experience to grind wheat than corn. Where I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, a staple of milling was to grind buckwheat flour. I also know that you first learn how to mill something easy like corn, and then move into other grains. I milled soft wheat for a long time before i started mill hard wheats and blends of wheat. I basically know about how modern milling is done, but the actual experience of my milling background is in traditional grain milling.

I am a product or a victim of the region of the country in which I grew up. New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, parts of Ohio and Michigan are the buckwheat states. I prefer buckwheat to other almost any other type of flour. I would not think twice about using buckwheat flour to make noodles, cookies or cakes. In my part of the world, people said, "white corn was not good enough to turn yellow, so we will feed it to the animals and eat the yellow." In the South it is just the opposite, they eat the white and feed the yellow to the animals. In my part of Pennsylvania, we just mill yellow corn into meal, but in Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania, the roast it first, and then mill it. We call it Pennsylvania Dutch style of corn meal, but the people in the South don't like it. People in New England traditional prefer rye to wheat and when they made corn bread instead of mixing in wheat or white flour they would simply add in rye flour to make "Rye & Injun." People in other parts of the country could not stomach that just like me trying to put buckwheat flour into everything. When I worked at Peirce Mill there was some people who wanted white and whole wheat flour made out of soft wheat. Then there was other folks who only wanted it made out of the hard wheats, and they would raise a big fuss about "Why is it not made out of the Western wheat?" There was some who made it like they would soon be at death's door if they did not get their hard wheat flours. Most of the mills in my part of the countryside had only Case, Wolf, and Sprout Waldron roller mills. The mills of the Middle Atlantic States were built with roller system that used the short system of roller milling. That is what the millers learned and that is what the milling literature, books and trade journals of the time taught them. As they remained frozen in time until their dying days, the industry when another direction. I remember when mills ground rye flour, and now you would be hard pressed to find ones that do.

When I was in college as an art education student and while in one art class a friend decided to build a peanut roaster as a sculpture project. We were fascinated with a Victorian looking peanut roaster in a peanut shop on the corner of State and 10th Streets, in Erie, Pennsylvania. Once the peanut roaster was finished, it was used to roast peanuts at a art fair on the grounds between two of the art buildings on campus. My idea was that what would roast peanut could also roast corn. I found an old Nordyke and Marmon horizontal burr mill in an old barn and began working on that so we could put a new twist on the peanut roaster. Of course, I never told him that we could also roast coffee beans with the device, and would have to build another Oliver Evans invention, the hopper-boy to cool the beans before they would be milled. While I had dressed the millstones, replaced the bearing and was building other missing parts he sold the peanut roaster to a peanut shop somewhere. I guess that is what happens when you create art to look like useful objects. The useful objects can generate quicker money perhaps most of the time than art which is made for the fun, joy, and experience of it all. My idea was back in the 1970's we could find a store shop in town and put the mill in the window, and with the peanut roaster and a bake oven we could then hang our art on the walls of the shop and sell it. During this time period I was also taking down barns whose roofs had falling in from the heavy winter snow. With the barn wood siding and beams, I was using them to remodel the inside of friends shops. The material was free, it was just the time and labor to get it.

I have perhaps one of the largest collections of milling related material: Historical miller & millwright technical manuals. Trade catalogs, and trade journals. Books and material on water power, steam power, tidal and wind power and hydraulics. I have a large collection of books, booklets pamphlets, post cards, flour sacks, and folders on mills, milling and regional mills. I have historical to modern material on flour, feed and grain milling, as well, as material on the history of milling, millstones and roller mills. I have a large collection of millstone dressing tools, flour bagging and sacking implements, artifacts and objects used in historical and traditional flour and grist milling. I have a collection of 35 years of photographs of mills, and their interiors, and long with a lot of electronic material on various storage device on mills, and milling. Then in I have a large amount of interpretive program material, outlines and lesson plans.

Life is Not Over! I am Looking for More Milling Experiences, Captain Ted.

A Typical Flour Mill, Newfield, New York.
A Typical Flour Mill, Newfield, New York.

A wooden frame mill, approximately 40 by 50 feet. The mill has a traditional sack hoist hood projection from the gable roof rafter with a series of Dutch-doors on each floor level. There are two Oliver Evans style grain dumps or sinks attached to the front of the mill which feed directly into the mill's elevator system. The mill has an addition of a miller's office on one side of the mill with another addition on the other side for grain or feed storage. There is a chimney stack pipe from an alternative power source when the mill stream (which is behind the mill) becomes low. This mill more than likely was powered by water turbines, contained millstones, and a roller milling system.

Upper Mill on Main Street, Newfield, New York.

Upper Mill on Main Street in Newfield, New York, burned down in 1918. The mill produced merchant flour using both water and steam power.  There are foundation remains of the 1830 Upper Mill on Cayuga Creek near the Newfield Vilage Hall, and the Covered Bridge.

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Copyright 2003 by T. R. Hazen