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A Personal Remembrance of the Lady Miller: E. Barton McGuire.

The Old Wye Mill, Wye Mills, Maryland, circa 1664-1671.
The last mill where E. Barton McGuire was the miller

Barton McGuire (right in blue coat), Charlie Howell (center), and Robert Grassi (left) during the restoration of the Wye Mill.

by Charles Howell (with Ted Hazen.), from "Old Mill News," Summer, 1990.

Emily Barton McGuire, miller at Wye Mill, Wye Mills, Maryland, died Thursday, May 10, 1990. Mrs. McGuire for the past few years was the driving force in getting the mill restored. Wye Mill was featured in "Old Mill News" in Winter, 1989.

Mrs. McGuire frequently said, "I use Barton, which is my middle-name. My first name is Emily; I have never felt like an Emily."

Prior to coming to Wye Mill, Barton McGuire was the miller at the water mill at Water Mill, Long Island, New York. She often commented that "Water Mill was the only town in the world name after its water mill." There, too, she was the force in getting the mill restored. In her words, she "begged, borrowed, and conned everyone possible to help with the restoration." She said she always was hoping for a "sugar daddy" to come along and put money into the restoration of the mills.

An active member of SPOOM, she was the USA board member of The International Molinological Society (T.I.M.S.), and was known worldwide. She was an active member of the British Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Wind and Water Mill Section. She has taken part in a number of mill tours arranged by SPAB in various parts of the British Isles.

In related areas of molinology, Barton was an active member, and former board member of the Early American Industries Association. EAIA member are primarily tool collectors and Barton has a large collection of antique tools, including milling and millwrighting tools. She also was a member of the British Tool and Trades History Society, attended their meetings and was becoming well known among the tool collectors in Britain.

Ted Hazen, miller at Rock Creek Mill in Washington, D.C., and our "Ed and Fred" cartoonist, commented:"I will always think of her when I see a mill, pick up a mill pick, collect a flour bag or mill postcard. She was a second mom to me and lots of other people. Maybe that was her one fault. She worried more about other people. She had a wonderful laugh, "hee hee," when the mill wheels in her head would grind out a wonderful idea. We were all graced to know her and be among her friends. Barton collected everything and her life was full of all these wonderful things, places and people.

Ted also remembered Barton's frequent sayings, "Anyone who likes mills can't be all bad," and "milling is a terrible addiction. Once it gets into your blood, it's worse than drugs or alcohol." She also said, "The wonderful thing about get immediate results. You put something wonderful into it, with lots of love, and you immediately know when it comes out if it will be good, or not. With a child you have to wait 15 or 29 years to know the results."

When some men would come into the mill and ask to see the miller, Barton would grit her teeth, close her fists and say, "You're looking at her."

We will all miss Barton very much, and extend our deepest sympathies to her family, including her husband, Bradford, her mother Mrs. E. Rucker, one son, three daughters and five grandchildren.

Charles Howell

Charlie Howell (left), Barton McGuire (center), and James (Jim) Kricker (sitting in pickup truck on right).

Barton was the author of two cookbooks, one done at the Water Mill, Water Mill, Long Island, and at the Wye Mill, Wye Mills, Maryland. She published two books of milling terminology, and was working on an enlarged, expanded edition at the time of her sudden passing. Across the road from the water mill in Water Mill, Long Island, is also a windmill. Barton became the force that restored mills, often with very little money. When they moved to Long Island the women who operated a tearoom in a 1844 mill asked her to join their association. Barton said that she would join on one condition, that they take this mill and turn it back into a mill again. She was the Little Red Hen, who begged, borrowed, and conned others into helping here. Barton would stay and become the miller of the newly restored mill for 15 years. She often said of the late Charles Howell, that he could remember every mill that he was ever in and the numbers of teeth in each gear. I loved being Barton's idea person, who put ideas into her brain, and sitting back watching the mill wheels in her head turn them into reality.

Barton started out in life driving a bookmobile in P.G. (Prince Georges) County, Maryland. It was perhaps there while driving a bookmobile she learned about mills that once stood in the area. As a girl she grew up in Washington, D.C., sung in the choir at the Washington Cathedral, and remembered Pierce Mill as a public tearoom. Barton was a collector who bordered on being a pack rat. She did not just collect one of something, she collected all the variations and styles of an object. She had a whole wall of different styles of compass, another wall of rulers. What Barton did not collect, Bradford collected. When Barton and Bradford moved from Long Island to the eastern Shore of Maryland, they came with three tractor trailers full of stuff. When they would go to a mill conference or symposium, Barton would go off with the millers to look at mills, while Bradford was happy to sit around with the wives having tea and cookies. They always complained about having no money, but as Charlie Howell often said, it did not stop them from showing up at these places.

Ted Hazen

Please Read: Restoration of a 1644 Grist Mill, by E. Barton McGuire.

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Copyright 2003 by T. R. Hazen