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More Interior Views of Mills Circa 1850-70, the Return of the Mill Machine.

More Interior Views of Mills Circa 1850-70,

the Return of the Mill Machine.
Theodore R. Hazen.

The Mill Machine: The Modern Mill.

Modern Mill: The Roman Mill.

Aaran (Switzerland) Interior of a 1603 Mill.

The mill has a carved stone framework seen in the foreground. This mill illustrates perfectly the interior of the usual water mill of the period. This was the modern mill, the Roman mill, the medieval mill. The mill machine (the millstones, husk frame, millstone drive gearing and tentering system), could be harnessed by either a Greek or Norse water wheel, an undershot, a breast shot, a overshot water wheel, on either stream, floating boat mill, or tidal powered mill. This was the perfect mill for grinding and efficiency, while the medieval miller's job was to only grind the grain, and leave the bolting and dressing of flour to the care of the baker. This was the model for the mill machine for hundreds of years. The millstones were on a waist high platform so the ground meal would fall from a chute into a bin in front of the mill machine. The miller only went to the millstones to fill the hopper or dress the millstones. Millstone cranes had not been invented yet, so the runner stone was lifted and turned over by hand. Then Oliver Evans came along and eliminated the need for the millstones to be elevated on a millstone platform. One of the ways you can identify a pre-Oliver Evans mill is by the continued existence of the basement millstone adjustment controls, and there may not be the floor to ceiling high at the millstones that has a crane that can uplift and turn over the stone so it can be dressed properly.

The Return of the Mill Machine.

The German Mill Machine, Circa 1850.

In the photographs is a German built millstone mill. It is made as a modular sectional piece. It was built in German in the 1850's and in may ways falls the traditional German tube mill. These mills were factory built, and could be installed in a mill in pairs or in a series of mills. These mills were built because of the changes to the traditional mill drive systems. Now millstones could be operated from line shafts and using either gear or belt drives.

Little Horse Mills: The Modern Burr Mill, Corn Mills, etc.

Munson's Under Runner Middlings Mill, Circa 1850-70.

Nordyke & Marmon Under Runner Middlings Mill, Circa 1870.

Nordyke & Marmon Under Runner Burr Mill, Circa 1870.

Nordyke & Marmon Under Runner Burr Mill, Circa 1880.

The Problem of Middlings.

One solution that Oliver Evans though of with the problem of what to do about middlings was based upon sound ideas, but he failed to carry though on his concept. Evans preferred to have the millstones in a mill rotate more slowly than most millers of the time, at about 100 revolutions a minute for a five foot diameter millstone. This was in standard comparison to the conventional 150 or more revolutions per minute. Oliver Evans though that undue pressure was responsible for poor flour quality, and said, "It is not the degree of fineness that destroys the life of the flour, but the degree of fineness, without injuring the quality; provided, it be done with sharp clean stones, and little pressure."

The mills of France had millstones that rotated from 50 to 60 revolutions per minute, or about half as fast as Oliver Evans recommended. By traditional American standard millstones that rotated below 85 revolutions per minute were thought to be incapable of grinding effectively. The French milling process which had been used effectively since the sixteenth century, was also known as the French system. This system involved a number of grinding in succession each with its own bolting. The first pair of millstones is set rather far apart (more widely apart than usual), and yields two grades of flour from the finely meshed bolter to with the chop is served. The overs from the first bolting, the tailing from this bolter are reground on millstones set more closely together, and more of a second grade of flour is produced. Then there is a third grinding and bolting of the tailings from the second grade. In periods of scarcity of grain, or wheat, the French millers would grind their grains materials as many as seven times, some regularly made five grades of flour, including three called white, as well as three grades of bran. When the Romans ground and bolted wheat, they would also produce seven grades from the grinding.

The bolting was sometimes done using water power, but more frequently it was done by hand operated bolting machine. It was usual that the French millers to extract 66 per cent "white flour" in three grades, with perhaps a little more than half being of the higher quality. The French used multiple sieves worked by hand in the 1700's, and most often this was done in a separate building called a bolting mill. In the early days of Colonial America, we also had bolting mills here, but the most important thing about the French system was the idea of dividing the process of grinding and bolting into separate stages. This concept never occurred to Oliver Evans. Evans system made use of certain machines simultaneously for more than a single purpose, as when middlings were returned to be reground along with whole berries. The French never developed this idea because they were too interested in increasing the salable extractions than improving the "art of milling."

In America the time was right for more theoretical approach to flour milling than other places around the globe. This depended solely upon the acceptance of Oliver Evans ideas among the millers in America. One of the most important features of Oliver Evans system of automated flour milling was the flexibility in the path of materials through the mill. This mean, that if grain, and ground meal needed to be recleaned, reground, recooled, rebolted, temporarily stored, etc., it was at the judgment of the miller who operated the mill. There was one set path for the material in the mill but there should have been previsions made in its installation to sent material back for a more though treatment if necessary. This meant that every miller who worked in an Oliver Evans mill be a miller of science, who could adopt to his methods completely, adapting to the varying conditions of milling and of the conditions within the grain itself. The machines or devices within the Oliver Evans system required very careful adjustment, and they required little or no attention when operating perfectly. To use the automated system of Oliver Evans, the miller needed to be a little of both an engineer and a scientist. This was an unheard of concept in America, or abroad during Evans' lifetime. Even though many of the Baltimore, Wilmington, Georgetown, were already engaged in large scale merchant milling, who were already by 1790 adopted to the Oliver Evans improvements.

The Oliver Evans ideas tended towards merchant milling on a large scale, which was already very strong in America, even until the present day. The capacity of Evans improvements for quality production, with their higher cost, and it tend to increase the scale on which milling must operate to gain the maximum economic advantage. A mill equipped with the Oliver Evans improvements could be run by one man for each twenty barrels of flour produced each day. In a standard merchant mill of the day, one man would be needed for each ten barrels a day. The products of a mill of this time were superfine flour, tail flour (middlings), ship stuff, shorts and bran, screenings and losses. To achieve the percentage result that Oliver Evans claimed, he reground the middlings and other tailings from the bolters. Then there was a percentage of tail flour, middlings and ship stuff that could not be separated from the bran. This percentage or flour or finely ground particles of endosperm was sold as a second grade flour. In years to come the improvements in milling would revolve around efforts to improve the quality of the grind and recover a greater percentage of good flour from middlings and other materials that Oliver Evans could not separate. With an Oliver Evans mill there is a higher value set upon human labor in the environment of American, as compared to that in England. The English set a low value upon human labor, were mill power was used only to run the millstones, and bolters, and to power a rope and pulley system for hauling up the grain. In the old process mills the grain was ground low (the millstones run fast and close together), the heating the meal, which was carried to tables on the floor above the millstone level, where it was cooled, then shoveled into the hoppers that fed the bolters. The wheat was cleaned by mill powered flat sieves, ending stones, and a fan located away from the main grinding area in the mill. In the United States Evans's devices were rapidly introduced even into the small grist or custom mills, found everywhere in the country. Abroad (in England and parts of Europe with the exception of France and Germany), however, the change to a completely mechanized mill was made even more gradually, and not as a general rule until after the 1870's and 1880's. The roller milling system that was perfected in Hungary in the 1860's was not automated, even when it was first brought to England it was not automated. Roller milling became an automated milling process when it was brought American and inter graded into the improvements of Oliver Evans.

The Mill Machine: Auxiliary Millstones.

In the introduction of "The Practical Millwright and Miller," by David Craik, 1870, he states, "The work published by Oliver Evans was an excellent practical work in its day, but mills have so changed within the century that it is too farm behind the times to be of mush use in the present day." In the section of the book in "Grist-Mills," he talks about how flour is cooled in grist mills of the day. "The grist did not generally pass directly from the stones to these bolts, but was elevated to an upper floor where it was spread and cooled, and after wards shoveled into another large hopper, from which it fell into the bolt; this feeding was always attended with more or less trouble, from the tendency of the grist to pack and remain stationary." This is the old pre-Oliver Evans system of cooling warm ground meal by turning it over and over with a shovel. However, in the next paragraph, he discusses the hopper-boy still in use in these grist mills as of 1870. "Another machine was made to revolve over the cooling flour with a draft towards the center, that cooled the grist into this hopper, and stirred the contents to help it to feed, this dispensing with the services of the boy whose business it was to attend to that part of the operation. This circumstance gave the name of "Hopper-Boy" to a similar machine since used for cooling and collection the bolted flour, in the modern packing machine."

In Felicity L. Leung's "Grist and Flour Mills in Ontario: From Millstones to Roller Mills 1780's to 1880's." she states, "The hopper-boy did the task previously done by a boy and rake, impelled by the miller's order to "Hop to it, boy!" If this is the case, then the "sack-boy" must have gotten his name also by the miller's order to "Sack to it, boy!" The "sack-boy" is the boy who whose responsibility it was in a mill to put (in most cases) ground meal into sacks and tubs. When the boy shoveled, scooped or paddled ground meal into sacks and tubs, and was spilling too much onto the mill's floor, the miller may have ordered, "Sack to it, boy! Don't spill it, boy!" It was also the "sack-boy's" responsibility to fill sacks that were filled from chutes extending through the floor from above. It was the sack-boy's job to close the gate on the chute, drag aside the full sack, put on a new sack, and once again open the gate. If the sack-boy was not paying attention, the material would back up the chute to the bolter above and perhaps effected the bolting process. The "hopper-boy" may have disappeared out of most mills in time, but the 'sack-boy" remained, giving the their name to the nails or hooks on the four sides of the end of the chute below the gate which took over the sack-boy's job of holding and filling the sacks.

At one time the better mills had millstones the diameter of 7 feet to 7 and half feet in diameter. From Oliver Evans time to the 1830 the average diameter became 4 feet to 4 1/2 feet in diameter. In William Carter Hughes' book "The American Miller and Millwright's Assistant," he states that 4 1/2 foot millstones are large enough for any water power and too large for falls over 10 foot head and fall. The larger 7 foot millstones still seemed to be found in huge windmills but generally disappeared from the countryside.of North America. The new smaller millstones with used to old milling process turned faster, some times as fast as 180 revolutions per minute. This produced the hot damp meal that Oliver Evans felt was a problem. The traditional larger diameter millstones using the old milling process turned more slowly, at a considered optimum grinding speed of 60 revolutions per minute.

As the milling process changed the millstone dress. In R. James Abernathey's book, "Practical Hints on Mill Building," he made no mention of using smaller diameter millstones, but only said the millers could change the dress and to manipulate the stones.John Brown in 1863 (who is greatly mentioned in David Craik's book) said that millstones need to be of two different types, generally smaller than before. One millstone for grinding wheat into middlings and the other for regrinding middlings into flour.

The millstones of 4 to 4 1/2 foot in diameter that ground wheat into middlings were known as "wheat stones" and the smaller diameter millstones that reground the middlings were known as "middling stones" or "ponies," because they moved faster than regular millstones. The millstone dress for the smaller 2 1/2 foot middling stones had only "master furrows" with no secondary furrows, so that the flour and middlings rolled out of the bran.

According to Robert Grimshaw in "Modern Milling," he states, "The size of the millstones is being decreased. Whereas in the olden times stones of four and a half and even five feet in diameter were used, now four feet is the largest size employed, and there and a half feet is very usual in certain granulations. (Middling stones are used as small as two and one-half feet; and many portable mills have vertical buhrs this small.)

We find under runners gradually replaced the upper, especially for grinding middlings.

New process buhr milling properly requires as many run of stone on middlings as on wheat."

The Methods of Flour Milling have Changed.

I should mention, that middlings is not part of the structure of the wheat berry. The wheat berry contains basically three parts: Endosperm, germ, and bran. Superfine flour, middlings, ship stuff, shorts and bran are products produced in the milling process. Middlings come from the middle as the origin of the word states.Middlings are coarse bits of the floury part of the wheat berry, with which small bits of bran may be associated or bonded to. Middlings are the part of the wheat berry that is starch, and the glutinous layer beneath the bran. It is the mediocre, middle, medium quality grade of flour.

In David Craik (millwright), book, "The Practical American Millwright and Miller," Chapter 16, there is a section called: "Merchant, or Manufacturing Bolts."

"Although the principle by which the Merchant bolt separates the different grades of flour from the bran and other offal is the same as that by which the little custom mill bolt effects the same process, yet the construction and details of the one differ greatly from the other. The constant and rapid rate at which the first named works, and the perfection with which it is required that each ingredient must be separated, and conveniently disposed of, make it necessary to employ an extensive combination of complicated machinery, quite different from the simple single reel and chest which suffice in a custom mill.

The vast competition in milling makes it necessary that the machinery by which the flour is made be such as will yield the greatest quantity of the best quality of flour from the wheat, and that in the shortest time and with the least expense in the operation.

Recently a great many improvements have been proposed and tried in bolting; some of them are patented;, but most are improvements only under certain circumstances, while some are worthless. One mill man will approve of one of these, that another of equal experience will condemn. This is owing to the different conditions of the mill in which they are tried; one patent is for inside knockers on a bolt reel: small iron weights to slide on iron rods, fastened one end to the shaft and the other end to the rib; as the reels revolve, the weights slide down the rod from the shaft and strike the rib in side, jarring the flour through the cloth; this is of use where there is too little bolting capacity, and it fails to clean the offal. Perhaps the miller in one establishment has allowed the stones to get smooth, the agent putting in the improvement will see that they are well dressed and balance, and will then start the mill with plenty of bolting room; while another miller, having plenty of bolting capacity, and the stones in good order, might apply these knockers, and they would spoil the flour, by jarring through the specks.

Where a mill has too much bolting surfaces and makes the flour speckly, it may be cured by putting the cloth on the inside of one rib, and the outside of another, so that the flour will slip over each alternate rib without being lifted; the flour will be cleaner, but it will not bolt so fast. Sometimes the cloth is put around inside of all the ribs; of course this doubles the effect of the older plan in the same direction.

The process of bolting seems to admit of more variation than any other branch of milling; the speed, for instance, may be varied from eighteen or twenty revolutions per minute, to thirty-four or thirty-six revolutions, without apparently making much difference in the work. Close observation might detect an error in such wide variations, and they would be inadmissible in merchant bolts where the load and quantity ground are kept almost constantly the same. It is believed by many good millers that the merchant bolt has not been brought to the perfection it might be, and that some ingenious mill man will yet perfect it and make a fortune by it; our opinion is, that he who attempts it had better try to devise some entirely new system, as there is a danger of the old getting too complicated if it be must further improved.

The object to be kept in view in constructing these bolts, is to make a complete separation of the meal at one operation, dusting the middlings at the same time. After middlings are separated from the flour and bran, a good deal of fine flour, which ought not to be ground over, can be sifted out by passing over fine cloth; the same is the case with the bran. This fine dust cannot be separated so easily while the bran and shorts are together, because a portion of the dust as it is detached from the middlings adheres to the bran, and it would have to pass over a great amount of cloth in that situation to separate it; this holds good with middlings and flour, and the sooner they are partially separated, the better. Separating the bran before bolting has been tried; we have had no experience with this plan, but think it will eventually be adopted to a certain extant.

In every merchant mill, some kind of apparatus must be made to intervene between the grinding and bolting, to cool the meal. These are some extra millers and millwrights who say that the best way to cool the flour that can ever be devised, is not to heat it; that is impracticable, if not impossible, and we must either select one of the several ways now in use, or else provide a better. Many of these large merchant mills still use the old-fashioned cooler, similar to that previously described in the chapter on grist-mills, the only alterations we notice being unimportant, as the cams for shaking the feeding shoe, and sometimes a new-fashioned rotary device for that purpose. The cooler answers as a reservoir for the meal, when the miller does not grind as fast as he wishes to bolt, which is often the case. Some use lines of open conveyors for coolers; the principle is as good, or perhaps better, than the old way, but lacks the reservoir, which might be provided with a proper garner above the bolts.

A better plan is, a blast of air, similar to the fan elevator, only do not attempt to raise the flour through three or four stories, and perhaps blow it as far horizontally, but raise it up though one story by the blower, and carry it the remainder of the distance by elevators. This will allow the fan to run at a moderate speed, and cool the meal perfectly, besides drying it, which is also very necessary, especially, besides drying it, which is also very necessary, especially at the West, where grain is not housed before threshing, and often indifferently house afterwards; the consequence is that the flour, if barreled immediately and shipped, is liable to sour.

This drying process helps to whiten the flour, and passing through the fan at a very rapid motion, scours the bran; the only objection is, that in cold weather the steam condenses on the inside of the tin pipe and clogs it up; this can be prevented by covering the pipe with some non-conducting material. Some provisions should always be made for regulating a cooler to the amount required, as too much stirring and cooling in very dry or cold weather make the meal bolt too freely, and the flour specky; this can be tempered in the fan cooler by taking the air at times from the curb, or from the outside atmosphere. In concluding these remarks, we may say that the principle of the fan cooler is good, but the details must be carefully managed; and finally we would advise the avoidance of heating as mush as possible, by keeping the stones sharp, true in face, and well hung, for no matter how the flour is stirred and cooled, if it is not perfectly ground it will not bolt well.

We may have mention a simple and useful device for carrying the steam and dust away from the curbs and conveyor in front of the stones, by which means the mill apartment and everything it contains are easily kept clean. A suction fan is placed in the upper part of the building, with a pipe leading from it to the top of the conveyor in front of the stones; this pipe passes perpendicularly from the conveyor through the floor above, where it is discharged into an air-tight room; another pipe is taken from another part of this room to another similar room, and from thence to the fan, and thence out through the building where it discharges. The air-tight rooms retain and deposit all the dust and flour that are carried from the conveyor. This arrangement also tends to modify the heat generated by the friction and pressure of grinding, as it increases the circulation of air within the curb and around the stones, and this, with its cleanliness, will insure its general use in well finished mills.

There are several variations in the structure of these bolts, some having whole chests containing five or six reels, arranged and so connected that each performs its part in union with the others, and the process is completed at a single operation. In others the reels are divided into half chests, or otherwise, the operation being divided in like proportion. A five reel full chest is frequently made with four reels, thirty inches in diameter, and twenty feet long, the two upper reels covered with number 10 cloth, the entire length; the next two with number 12 cloth, the entire length; the middlings and bran falling together from the tail of these last reels, into a separating reel and duster. This last is forty-four inches in diameter, the head covered with number 10 cloth, and the tail end, where the middlings are separated from the bran, with number 5.

We give the plan of a six-reel whole chest merchant bolt; it is similar in most respects to that just completed in the River Street Mill, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Henry Smith, Jr. The reels are forty-four inches in diameter, and twenty feet long, and being all in one chest, make it very high, and it extends up into the next story of the mill; the two upper reels are used as flour reels, taking nearly the entire length, covered with numbers 10 and 11 cloth. It will be seen by the drawings that what falls over the tail end of the upper reels drops into the return reels directly under the others; two-thirds of these are covered with fine cloth, the balance with number 5, which separates the middlings from the bran. The middlings are carried to the tail end of the return reels, both joined in one spout, and thrown into one of the two remaining reels, called the middlings dusting reel, which is covered with very fine cloth; the bran falls over the tail end of the center or return reels into one spout, and is carried into the remaining reel, which is also covered with very fine cloth, and is called the bran dusting reels, this makes the full complement of six reels.

The return business is so managed that all the stuff coming through the return reels proper, and what is dusted in the remaining two reels, is carried to one spout on the bolt floor, discharged thence into the conveyor in front of the stones, and carried back into the cooler. This arrangement is capable of working over five hundred barrels per day, and is the handiest merchant bolt that we have seen.

The greatest trouble in all large mills appears to be the working up of middlings. In good milling times owners can afford to make one first-class grade of flour by grinding high and taking only the head of the bolts, and then making two or three other grades of flour out of the middlings; but when flour is cheap, and there is little demand for inferior flour (or in fact as any time), the object is to get all the first quality flour out of the wheat without injuring its color.

The following arrangement is the best we could devise for this purpose;Presuming a mill has seven run of stones, five for wheat and two for middlings, it would require one full chest of bolts similar to Smith's plan for the wheat stones, and a half chest of bolts for each of the middling runs, and three coolers. One run of middling stones should grind up the middlings as they come from the first bolts, just fast enough to keep up, and no more; these would yield a grade of flour clear enough to mix with the first flour without rebolting. There would still be another grade of middlings left, and another run of stones and half chest of bolts left to work these up.

A separate grade of flour may be made out of these last middlings, or it may be run into the first and kept a XX grade up, by bolting in this half chest and running the flour back into the cooler, and rebolting with the meal from the wheat stones. Thus the whole can be run into one grade and still ground high enough not to injure the color of the flour.

The attempts made to grind close and soft enough the first time, bolt close, and only grind the middlings once, and clean them, running them all into one grade, having generally failed, and cannot be relied upon, being successful only when all the circumstances are favorable.

We intend to insert a plan and description of a half chest bolt, which answers well in mills doing both merchant and custom work, and also some further information on cooling and packing machinery; but millwrights superintending the erection of such mills are generally quite competent, and frequently have their favorite systems, to such, this chapter will be of little value, and will be more useful to young men, and those of limited experience; for these reasons we will add no more here."

Seven Run Mill of the Richmond City Mill Works, Circa 1880.

The illustration given herein show a New Process stone-mill especially designed to make the entire product a straight grade of a high quality flour. There are five run of buhrs for wheat, and two for middlings; four purifiers, one bran duster,two flour packer, one bran packer, one pair of bran rolls, one pair of middlings rolls, thirteen elevators, sixteen reels arranged in two eight-reel chests; and one separate reel for grading. The wheat goes from the stock lines to the fire wheat stones. The product of the five runs is equally divided between the two upper reels in the upper chest, there being one elevator for each. These upper reels are clothed to take a part of the flour off at the head, and all in the lower reels, and then pass through the grader to the several purifiers. After purification, the middlings go to the two runs of middling stones, and are then bolted separately on five reels of the other eight-reel chest, arranged precisely like these in the first chest. Two reels in the same chest are used for the products from the rolls, and all flour is finished on the remaining reel, and thoroughly mixed before going to the packers; or, if desired, that portions of the flour made from the middlings is packed separately as a patent brand.

Most of David Craik's book deals with the operation and construction of grist mills, and of building other types of mills. The above section is the only reference to merchant or commercial milling and the regrinding of middlings. In many ways David Craik's book, "The Practical American Millwright and Miller," updates Oliver Evans, which William Carter Hughes' book "The American Miller and Millwright's Assistant," seems never to attempt to do so. Mr. Craik's book is reprinted in three editions but I am afraid that he too became out of date, like he had mentioned in his introduction that Oliver Evans had become terribly out of fashion in the milling business. It is interesting to note, that in his section of grist mills he does mention the pre-Oliver Evans system of cooling warm meal by raking and then also still the use of the hopper-boy still being around at the writing of his book, and it is also mentioned in "The Miller's, Millwright's and Engineer's Guide," by Henry Pallett, 1890.

Mills Change with the Times:

The portable burr mills replaced the auxiliary millstones in "new process" mills, and then later in the roller milling system that used the "gradual reduction method of flour milling, using scrolls and middling mills. These small disk mills have revolving iron disks that are generally found on an upper floor level often hidden being other much larger pieces of machinery, and use very little power to operate. "New process" milling went from "half-high" grinding to "high grinding, and after they tried setting the old millstones farther apart, they considered it the "new method," then forgetting about the old "half-high" grinding. In 1860 a French scientist Joseph Perngault invented the basic middlings purifier. Later General Cadwallader Washburn brought the purifier from Paris to Minneapolis, and in 1871, it was greatly improved by Edmond W. La Croix and George T. Smith, both experienced head millers.

In John W. McGrain's article in the Maryland Historical Magazine, volume 77, number 2, summer 1982, "Good Bye Old Burr: The Roller Mill Revolution in Maryland, 1882," he says, "J. F. T. Brown owned the Wye Mills on the Talbot-Queen Anne's county line where milling had gone on since at least 1682. This 1 1/2 story building is 37 by 25 feet, and in 1889, Brown described the installation as "A Very Short System Mill" in his letter to the editor:

Editor American Miller. - I have recently remodeled my mill to the roller system. I expected to have the shortest system you ever heard of. I hardly know whether to call it a one or two-break mill. It has one pair of smooth rolls to grind all the middlings. I have three Silver Creek Flour bolts, one single and one double scalper, one purifier, one Excelsior Bran Duster, one Eureka and one Hercules Wheat Cleaner, these are all the machines I have in the mill. The two-break mills are 9 x 15, manufactured by John T. Noye Manufacturing Company, Buffalo, New York. I sent all the tailings over from the bolts and scalpers, such as bran and ship stuff, to the bran duster, and it gets all the flour out of it. The flour that comes from the bran duster I sent to number 3 bolt, clothed with number 12 cloth; about one-half of this bolt is cut off and sent to purifier, which makes very good middlings. I am making a straight grade equal to patent flour, and have a capacity of thirty barrels in twenty-four hours. I am running my mill with water power and have sufficient water all the year to drive it. I engineer the mill myself, and it suits me in every respect." American Miller, volume 17, May 1, 1889. page 340.

Linchester Mill, taken in 1902, shows from left to right, John Beauchamp and daughter Louise, Percy Blades, and Frank Langrell.

The mill was powered at that time by two scroll water turbines. Then later after the turn of the century about 1910-12, the water turbines were replaced by a Fitz Water Wheel, and the roller system by Midget Marvel Mill. Another mill of similar age is the Linchester Mill, the late Frank S. Langrell was a pioneer in switching flour mills to broiler feed. In the 1920's the early operations of the mill shoveled the desired proportions of various grains for broiler feed onto the mill floor and mixed it with lawn rakes. Now the old rakes were back in use after they disappeared for several hundred years, but Frank Langrell, once said, that he had never heard of Oliver Evans. Perhaps that part of milling history passed the Linchester Mill by. A photograph of the "Linchester Mill taken in 1902," shows from left to right, John Beauchamp and daughter Louise, Percy Blades, and Frank Langrell. The mill seen in the background clearly shows the line up the wall to the east side of the mill door that shows the original 1670 building, and the mill is powered by a wooden breast shot water wheel. The water wheel has two bucket sections which are staggered on the center cant board. An 1880 census says the mill is idle 3 months of the year. The fall was 7 feet, and there was one breast shot water wheel, 7 feet broad, that turns 12 revolutions per minute, generating 20 horse power. The output of the mill is 556 barrels of flour, 1 tons of ground corn, and 21 tones of animal feed. All the trade is custom. There was also a saw mill powered by an eight horse power Rich Wheel, operating a circular and a Muley saw. No logging was done by the mill owner. At one time there was a wool carding machine in the mill.

Linchester Mill, Showing the Metal Water Wheel.
In 1918, an 8 foot diameter I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel was installed.

Young Frank Langrell (born April 1887) had come to the Linchester Mill at fifteen as an apprentice. After one year, he moved to Dean's Mill on Fowling Creek for two years. Then after a break of six months, he returned to Caroline County, where he worked at Anthony's Mill, near Denton for two years. Then he went to Todd's Mill at Williston. He married Elizabeth Perry in 1912, and returned to the Linchester Mill in 1914, and bought the mill. In 1918, an 8 foot diameter I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel was installed at generating 22 horse power. Mr. Langrell also acquired the Case Roller Mills and a hominy mill from the Williston Mill where he had been employed for three years. Several additions were added to the structure to increase the interior storage space of the mill, and to provice a new miller's office. Before Mr. Langrell purchased the Mill J. B. Webster made improvements to the Linchester mill, with B. F. Star machinery of Baltimore, Maryland, which was known for their French millstones. The mill began operating under the management of J. B. Webster as the Linchester Roller Mills on July 24, 1890. The mill at one time had a steam engine in a nearby building that was used for powering the mill. Then the breast shot water wheel was replaced by two water turbines and a Wolf Roller Milling system was installed. The Case roller mills are much smaller than the larger Wolf roller mills, and perhaps more suited for the very low height of the mill's first floor.

This is why many small mills survived into the post-industrial era. They were the hard-headed businessman who tried to ignore the proverbial "bottom line." Today the Wye mill stills runs on water power as a museum-type operation, capable of grinding golden yellow corn meal, which is very authentic and educational, and they survived the roll milling revolution. Frank Samuel Langrell, and his son-in-law Robert Glessner carried on milling activity until 1972. Before the mill dam became washed out from Hurricane Agnes, young people would ice skate on the Linchester Mill-Pond.

In the 1880's, according to "Flour for Man's Bread, A History of Milling," by John Storck and Walter Dorwin Teague, 1952, "In the 80's the miller frequently summarized his economic philosophy in the statement that "the best mill is the one that makes the most money." But this slick maxim would soon be superseded by another, less grounded in immediate expediency but more in harmony with he new industrial order then beginning to take shape. This revised rule states that "the best mill is the one that continues to make the most money."

Epilogue: The Epitaph of Mills.

In the field of molinology, not much attention had been paid to the small, country, grist mill, one-man milling operations, more than likely because until the period from the end of World War Two, until the 1970's they continued to operate. Now they in this short period of time, these mills, have either become derelicts, vanished or in a few cases become museums. The concept of the mill as a museum, has many pros and cons. Mills are expensive to restore and to maintain. When a mill is converted into a museum, it stops being a real mill and often takes on an individuals concept of what the mill may have been like. Mills make good education tools and preserve the past. Mills once served the local community, and now they will continue to serve the local community in new ways. The pros and cons aside, mills becomes static exhibits locked in a set period of time no longer serving the function they were original built to serve.

Some problems that has happened to restored mills over the history of mill restoration:

(1) Some so-called Oliver Evans mills tend to look like Thomas Ellicott mills. The mill contains the millstones and the rest of the building contains empty floors with no other machinery. (2) Some of the Oliver Evans with automated flour milling systems, grind for milling demonstrations using the pre-Oliver Evans system of "low milling." They grind on a single pair of millstones (because that is the only pair that can operate), and flour is sifted through a flat sieve above a meal bin. They often produce whole wheat flour which is not period approbate. (3) Modern health standards generally prohibit milling demonstrations that are period approbate because of the time required for cleaning and the number of people needed to maintain it. (4) Then there is the period where the Oliver Evans systems evolved into "new process" milling, or "half-high" before it became gradual reduction in the 1870's. These restorations are avoided because the changes to the technology is not been fully researched and studied. (5) The restoration of mills to the "gradual reduction" or roller milling period has been generally avoided. Roller mills are difficult to interpret, and impossible to maintain heath standards in a demonstration environment. (6) There is a general feeling that people like to see turning water wheels. They bring in visitors, because it is motion that is easily understood and seen. Water turbines are hidden from view (under water) and generally only can appeal to technophiles. (7) Almost from day one, there has been a problem is taken written record too seriously that were made by individuals or person who did not have the technical understanding, basic grasp of technical terminology, and poor judgment to make wrong identification of things right in front of their view. (8) Finally, there is a notion (a rather poor one) in interpretation, "make it simple (dumb it down for the stupid minded!), and they will all understand it (grasp its meaning and concepts), and then going away happy......they lived, they fought and died." There has been many a commercial, merchant, white flour mill, that has been stripped out and turned into a custom or grist mill, because that is a concept that most people understand. The "Little Red Hen" took wheat to the mill for the miller to grind into flour. People understand (and appreciate) water wheels, millstones, corn meal and whole wheat flour. Life does not reflect historical reality of the past in some cases.

In the 1970's and 1980's mills saw a new life and interest by the National Park Service and other preservation groups on the state and county levels. Many mills were restored, restored mills were given new life, the National Park Service held several mill workshops, other groups held mill symposiums, mill restoration conferences. However, in the times since the 1980's mills have fallen out of favor with the National Park Service. I apprenticed as a miller and my primary source of molinological information has been many old time miller friends. They interpreted the history of milling, and the technology of mills to me. Now mills are threatened more than ever before (partly because of the lack of federal funding), because the only ones left (for the most part) are college academics with no practical knowledge of milling operations. These people and professional administrators are the ones who make the decisions of what should be done in mill restorations and which path and concepts would be followed. The mills real friend, the millers voices has been silenced by the passage of time. Mill restorations are governed by passing fads, for example restoring a mill that operated thou seven major wars in the history of America, to only consider restoring it to the period of the Civil War. As if the Civil War is some sort of a bench mark in the history of milling technology, and of the United States. Another silly present fad is reenacting nonexistent Civil War battles in American Revolutionary War Parks, "because that is what the people want to see!"

Some people's answer is, that we will train a new batch of mill experts, those who can give mill lectures, and know how to restore mill. In many cases, some of these (people in so-called training) have been sent to learn milling from people, who learned it on their own, by themselves. It is the feed miller mentality, that of anyone who walks off the street can work in a mill, and learn it in time. Mills are very expensive to restore and to maintain. In traditional new mill construction and in modern mill restoration or recreation, getting the water to just to turn a wheel can be the most expensive ticket item in the whole project. One of the big problem that mill restorations have always faced is running out of money (funding), and time (not being able to complete the entire restoration project). Still another problem that most people are not aware of, is about a common misconception, "if you spend the most (hire the most expensive person, people to do the job), you will get the best job possible." Also taking the taking the lowest bidder may also create problems. There must be a middle ground between knowledge, ability, flexibly, and practicality. I have said this before many times over the years, you don't spend millions of dollars on a mill restoration (when today's average mill restoration cost a million dollars, more or less), a place it in the hands of a miller you pay minimum wage to with no benefits, who may only work seasonally. The same standards must be also true of the mill experts. You don't hire the most expensive, just be cause they decided long ago to charge the most; use words and terminology that no one else used (that is not even in any milling books); are difficult to deal with (they don't freely share information with others, even their own apprentices), and are in the business not for the love of mills, but for other personal and private reasons.

I learned 35 years ago, that libraries offered very little (if anything) information on mills and milling. In the last 20 years or so, historical societies have now devoted all of the staff and resources to genealogical work, even museums that were once established to preserve local history, industry, and technology. "To mill or to meetin," I went to the source of the information, for ideas and to learn the technology first hand. I did not go there for the reasons of yesterdays pioneer America, because mills and churches were "the gossip bake houses" of the day.

Program's Source: Interpretive programs 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, "Wheat grinding demonstrations, soft wheat, hard wheat, and a mixture of hard and soft wheats." Program uses several hand sifters, and wooden or metal tubs to sift out different parts of ground wheat.

Information Sources:

"Feudal Laws and Customs," Volume 3, London, 1900, "History of Corn Milling," by Richard Bennett and John Elton, 4 volumes, reprint Burt Franklin, New York, 1964, Research and Source Works Series #74, reprinted in 4 volumes in the United Kingdom, by Simpkin Marshall, 1989.

"Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages, by Jean Gimpel, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1976.

Information from "Molinography of Maryland," by John W. McGrain, Maryland State Archives, miscellaneous Linchester Mill notes, of July 24, 1973.

"Langrell's Mill, circa 1670-1974, Linchester Maryland," by Dorothy R. Davis, Ph.D., Preston, Maryland, 1974.

And other books mentioned in the above text.

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Copyright 2003 by T. R. Hazen