Interior Views of Mills Circa 1850-70, the Return of the Mill
The Mill Machine: The Modern 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.
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
Little Horse Mills: The Modern Burr Mill, Corn Mills, etc.
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
"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,
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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