at Mill Artifacts, was Some of these Items really used in an Old Mill.
The Grain Dump on the Pleasant Valley Roller Mill, Gruber Road,
Bernville vicinity, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The mill was also known
as Heister Mill and Reber's Mill. The building was documented
by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Historic American
Engineering Record (HAER). The Flour Mill was built in 1841,
and then remodeled in 1839. From the standpoint of the museum curator, is
the grain dump an architectural feature of the building? Is it part of the
milling machinery, that could be used in milling demonstrations? Is it part
of the mill architecture (building), or is it a museum artifact? It is basically
all of the above.
Moving the grain from the loading dock or the wagon with the Oliver Evans
System, you either dump the grain into a Grain Dump or Grain
Sink on the outside of the building or into a Receiving Hopper
on the first floor just inside of the door. The grain dump or sink when
it is on the outside is like a half of a square upside pyramid with a slanted
lid. I am attaching one on an old stone mill that sort of looks like a household
laundry chute. Sometimes they were installed in a basement window opening
that was located near the millstone support platform and the water wheel
side of the mill. Then later in the 20th century grain dumps became these
big outside bins for dumping grain from farm wagons, and then trucks, but
this was mostly for the bulk feed milling business.
May issues are open for discussion that may not have been consider for further
historical research. For example, in Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park,
Washington, D.C., there is an original 1841
Broadsides from the Hanover Foundry and Machine Shop, Hanover,
Pennsylvania, that in July of 1902 it became known as the Fitz Water
Wheel Company. The question no one has asked, "how this item find
its way into Peirce Mill?" Was it deposited in the mill during the
1930's mill restoration by the Fitz Water Wheel Company? The late
Donald C. Wisensale did not mention or remember it. One of the reasons
that John Samuel Fitz was so excited to do the restoration of the
Fitz Water Wheel Company, was that they had worked on the mill in
the past building and installing a the Peirce Mill's second water
wheel circa 1840-41. After all, more than likely Isaac Pearce (the
owner, builder and millwright) may not have built it who died in 1841, at
the age of 85. His one son, Abner Peirce who inherited the mill,
and died in 1851, was a stone mason by trade. The restoration of Peirce
Mill was a celebration of their building of an 14 to 18 foot breast
shot water wheel almost a hundred years earlier. Another item that has not
be discussed or researched is the Corn Cob Crusher that was in storage
in the Peirce Mill's attic. Did this item come from one of the two mills
(J. A. Baldwin Mill in Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania, and the Baughman's
Mill near Linesboro, Maryland) that the Fitz Water Wheel Company
get mill parts for the first restoration? The corn cob crusher was apparently
not installed in the mill during the 1930's restoration, was it deemed not
to be needed, or had it been in the mill already. The Hanover Foundry
and Machine Shop, then the I-X-L Water Wheel Company and finally
the Fitz Water Wheel made this Corn Cob Crusher. More than
likely it had been purchased for the mill during its historical operation
and the question should be should it be restored, and reinstalled in the
mill's machinery system?
Other items that were found in the mill was a turnip cutter. Its history
and origin were unknown. I moved it into the attic for storage because of
its dangerous cutting blades. It is a farm item and could have been from
the Peirce-Shoemaker Plantation. Then there was a Corn Sheller made
up of two sections of cut logs with metal nubs hammered into the outer rim
of the logs. Again where this item come from, it was very old and falling
apart when I came to work at the mill.
Not all items that are described were actually used in a Flour
or Grist Mill. One good example is: Old Authentic Shaker Tool
for Grist Mill. The description of this item states it as being "RARE!"
This is an old authentic Shaker turned wood device for tamping flour at
the Grist Mill at the Shaker colony in Enfield, New Hampshire. The
tool is still in very good condition, with obvious wear from being used.
This historic relic would make a great museum piece regarding the utopian
culture of the Shakers, or it could be a unique addition to a Shaker furniture
collection. It is 45 inches long and 4.5 inches at the widest end, and weighs
15 pounds. The problem with using the tool, was that it would possibly hit
the first floor ceiling or second floor joints when used, and most millers
of the time simply jumped into the barrel and compressed the flour with
the larger surface area of their boots. The person who was selling the item
finally confessed that it may have used to crush herbs, and not used as
a flour tool.
The Cumberland General Store (Cumberland General Store, 1 Highway
68, Crossville, Tennessee 38555) sells old time general merchandise items
which many of these look very similar to the originals. They sell wooden
grain shovels, metal and wooden grain scoops. The Wooden Grain Scoop,
looks very much like an old item but is actually some thing that is currently
being produced for commercial sales.
Another unusual item is advertised as a Signed American Shaker Harvard
Flour Scoop. The description states, "This hand carved wooden scoop
is commonly referred to as a sugar scoop but was probably used in the Flour
Mill or Seed Shop. It has the carved initials I.B.C. carved into
the back. It is 16 inches long and 5 and 3/8 inches wide at the scoop. I
am not an authority on woods and am not sure of the wood variety used to
make this scoop. It is pictured on page 101 of John G. Shea's book "The
American Shakers and their Furniture". Excellent Shaker Scoop!!!"
Note they apparently know enough not to state that it was possibly signed
by the Shaker maker rather than the later owner of the scoop. Anyone who
knows anything about the Shakers would know that it was a religious thing
not to sign anything that they made. It was all done for the greater glory
of god, and the effort of the group as a whole, and not for individual glory.
Wooden Grain Shovels were used in old Flour and Grain
Mills to shovel grain and flour. They were also used in old style boxcars
that had wooden floors to shovel grain. They were also used in cider mills
to shovel apples, and in breweries. The old ones are made out of ash, white
ash. Generally they are one piece all wood with a loop handle. The blades
would have a width of on the average of 18 inches more or less. You find
them in different conditions. Sometimes the blade of the shovel is nicked
up, or the blade may have cracks in it. There are some that are made with
a straight long handle, and others that are made of two pieces like a snow
shovel. However the most common is the one pierce type.
You can find modern reproductions that are still made today. The Cumberland
General Store in Tennessee still sells them. I have seen a woodworking
book that shows you how to make one with step-by-step instruction and photos.
The modern ones have a blade that is basically about 12 inches wide more
or less. Basically the width of modern made lumber. Modern reproductions
are also made to be used in living-history museums. I mentioned the Cumberland
General Store. About 10 years ago when I worked for the National
Park Service, I bought some of their wooden grain shovels for the 1820
Flour Mill that I had worked in. The price was somewhere between
30 to 40 dollars for one shove.
The old ones depending upon their condition. Some cracks are okay. Wear
is also okay as long as it looks like wear from actual use in a mill. Grain
and flour polish wood and make it smooth. Uneven boards in a mill or farmer's
wagon and nail heads would nick up the blades. This is why you would have
objects used in a mill made out of wood, to prevent accidental spark and
dust explosion. What is desirable in these objects is a rich patina. No
changes in coloration for a nice patina to light uncolored wood or wood
that looks like it has been recently sanded. Dark discoloration is bad,
along with dark water stains, oil, and rot or decay. In Grain and
Flour Mills it is a big "no-no" to paint surfaces that
would come in contact with grain or flour. So it would not have been painted
in its useful working life or painting afterwards ruins its value.
I mentioned that wooden grain shovels were made out of ash, white ash, but
they were also made out of walnut. In some ways walnut is more desirable,
because it would be almost impossible to made one similar to that today.
What you look for in grain shovels is a broad blade. This one has a nice
broad blade. I have seen ones with longer neck. This one has a basic shape
to the handle. What is nice about it is the finger guard where the fingers
would wrap around the handle and be protected by the curve or loop that
comes from the neck and attaches to the handle. This one is thinner and
has a nicer shape than most.
Millstone Crane Screws, if they are old wooden ones can be used
in exhibits and displays, but should hot be used in actual demonstrations
to lift and over turn the runner stone. A metal one is much safer and should
be used instead of the older ones. Other mill artifacts that should not
be used are Mill Picks, not that they are unsafe, they would flake
off small pieces of metal that might embed themselves under the skin, but
modern reproductions can be used instead. The same should be true for Bin
Paddles, and Grain Scoops, they are good for exhibits and displays,
but for daily use in demonstrations reproductions can be easily made that
look much like the originals. The metal blades of grain scoops bend, split
and tare and the miller often replaced them several times until the handle
broke. The same it also true of bin paddles, they wore down, split and cracked.
Then if the mill is grinding grains for demonstrations, these items may
need to be washed daily which may shorten the live of an artifact. The same
is also true of other items which are easily made like the originals. Such
as: Mallets that would be used for pounding in wedges, gear teeth
and cogs, and closing sluice gates. Cobweb Chasers are simply made
from a long stick with rages tied around the end to dust away cobwebs. Bin,
and Chute Knockers, are sticks like a billy club that are used to
pound on the outside of bins and chutes to get stuck material moving. The
same wooden stick often with a cord or leather loop though a hole in the
handle end are used as Elevator Sticks that are used to get stuck
elevator cups and belts moving so you do not loose your fingers. These Elevator
Sticks are also used in pulling off and putting on a leather belt while
the machinery is moving. This is not a good practice and should be avoided,
but if done, a a claw hammer should never be used. If the miller does it
wrong the claw hammer may hit him in the head. Modern tools should be used
to cut, punch and hold together leather belts while they are laced. A matte
knife, and several hole punches are easily items which are available today,
and a Belt Clamp can be easily made from four pieces of hard wood
with threaded rods, nuts and washers. To cut string ties for Flour Sacks,
a hatchet or ax can be used on a log or a large curved sharp cutting blade
can be hung on an angle so a downward motion would cut the bundle of strings
to the correct length. The same is true for Hand Sifters, Sieves
and Temse, old ones are good for exhibits, displays and lectures,
but reproductions can be easily made that would work effectively for demonstrations.
Order extra bolting screen and cloth, or window screen will work for sifting
out bran from meal. If you have a craftsman who has the ability to made
round ones, make them like the originals, but otherwise square ones were
also used historically. Modern old style Brooms, Counter Brushes,
and Rakes can be used historical accuracy but when the visitor leaves
the vacuum cleaners can come out of hiding.
Proof Staffs, Paint Staffs, and Branding Irons that are
old and original can be used with relatively little harm to them. However,
Barrel Stencils can easily be bent or broken. It is best to have
a modern reproduction made for demonstration or for making stencil prints
of and selling them for fund raising. Wooden items such as, Tally Boards,
Toll Boards, Toll Dishes, or Measures reproductions can be easily
made out of wood so the originals can remain as artifacts in storage, exhibit
or display. I have made a wooden Tool Box with a rope handle, but
a leather handle could easily have been added. This is used to carry tools
for mending leather belting, replacing wedges, and to carry Mill Picks
in. When I worked at Zortman's Mill, we had a telephone in the mill's
office and one in the main mill's work area. We kept that phone hidden under
a wooden box, mainly to protect it from the dust. It never failed at least
once a year we had to replace the phone because the dust got into the mechanism.
I have always carried a pocket watch all of my life, and it seems that working
in a mill they would last only a year. The problem was again, that the flour
dust kept getting inside of the mechanism. I even took one to a watch maker
and when he took off the back of the watch he said, "this thing is
full of flour dust!" Besides what the miller carries in his pockets
being artifacts to some extent, the miller's clothing should also be evident
around the mill. Coats hung on hooks, with hats, and aprons, along with
other items that would be found in a Miller's Desk.
The Miller's Desk can be used as a storehouse of mill artifacts
or to hold items that can be used in mill interpretation. For example, some
of the items found in a Miller's Desk are Miller's Diaries,
Miller's Journals, Mill Records, Period Writing Instruments
(and materials), Miller and Millwright Books, Trade Journals and
Catalogs, Mill Tools, Drinking Cups (to keep them dust
free, etc.), and unusual items that the miller might want to show others,
like a Wooden Cog or Gear Tooth that wore or broke in a unique
manor. I have made entire interpretive programs using just the Miller's
Desk and its contents as a prop.
With the restoration of mills and them becoming mill museums, you may
have to make some compromises. For example, when I first went to work at
Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., one of the first
items that I purchased for the mill was a Hand Truck. It was a modern
made wood and metal Hand Truck, that would be used in railroad freight
buildings, warehouses, and feed mills. I needed a good Hand Truck
that I could used to move grain from a delivery truck down a series of stone
steps into the mill. So it needed to have good wheels and could safely move
500 to 600 pounds with no problems. Robert A. Howard, told me that
what I needed for the mill was a good Beam Scale. I mentioned to
the park curator several times to be on the eye out for a good Beam Scale
for the mill but one never materialized. The one thing the District of
Columbia health officer was concerned with in an operating Flour
Mill was correct weights and measures. So I used modern scales that
I could adjust with weights to insure that they were correct and could be
certified. I also look and looked around to located a metal Proof Staff
and a wooden Paint Staff for the mill. The problem with finding Proof
Staffs is that most of them had gotten busted up for scrap metal over
the years. After going to Mathews' Mill along Pennsylvania State
Route 31, Jones Mill, Pennsylvania, for years of my life, I discovered a
metal Proof Staff tucked underneath one of the set of stairs in the
mill. Years before the late Mr. Mathews took over operating the mill from
his father who had removed the millstones, and the mill was then used to
grind buckwheat flour using Case Roller Mills. Mr. Mathews son insisted
that the Proof Staff was a level used on the inside Fitz Water
Another compromise you may have to make deals with sharpening the Mill
Picks or Mill Bills. In the attic work area of the mill, I had
an Electric Grinder (which was capitalized property), and on the
first floor, I had a Wet Stone. The Electric Grinder was good
for sharpening Mill Picks, but because of its high speed it could
take the temper out of the metal. After a while, I used the Wet Stone
more, for one reason it was more historic in the process of dressing millstones
and I could do it as an addition to the demonstration of dressing the millstones.
Every mill has to decide whether to used Paper Bags or Cloth Sacks.
Paper Bags came into used about 1910, and they can suddenly burst
when the backs have been stored at cold temperatures. Cloth Sacks
are more period approbate, and can be generally ordered with a plastic liner
of your health inspector had problems using Cloth Sacks. When I came
to work at Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., they had
previously used Paper Bags, Wire Ties, and a Twister.
These all again came into general usage after 1910. Occasionally I did use
the Wire Ties on the Cloth Sacks, and they could be twisted
by hand, or use a traditional Twister or a Spring-Loaded Twister.
Mainly I used cut pieces (about 12 to 14 inches long) of jute or cotton
string and used a Miller's Knot to tie the neck of the Cloth Sacks
closed. In the daily operating of the Flour Mill, I could used wooden
Tubs and Pails, but generally used modern Metal Buckets
and Pails. Basically it was to keep the Federal health officer happy,
and they were easier to get from the National Park Service Storeroom
or from any hardware store. I could clean them in a slop sink using mild
soap and hot water with no problems to the wood which eventually effected
Old worn out mill parts often accumulate in a mill. For example, old worn
out, and broken cogs and gear teeth. At Peirce Mill, in Rock Creek
Park, it seems like at times I would have trash cans full of them. Of course,
there were around from before I had come to work at the mill. These were
not of historical value, and were simply modern replacements, made by the
Fitz Water Wheel Company after the first restoration or by the National
Park Service Woodworking Shop. Then there was broken wooden gear housings.
Perhaps the best use of this sort of stuff is to give it away to a piece
at a time to those really interested in the mill. I wanted to toss it out,
and fought to keep it from being cataloged as mill artifacts. While I worked
at the mill, and when ever I tried to take a day off, it never failed that
some "higher-up" would come around and begin to clean house of
stuff that I wanted to keep. Some of the stuff that was tossed out was different
pieces of boards of different types that I was keeping to make replacement
bearings and other wood parts that would occasionally ware out in the daily
operation of the mill. Charlie Howell had this problem too when he
worked as the miller at the Upper Mill, Philipsburg Manor in New
York. The Upper Mill is a modern recreation or reconstruction, and
there are no original artifacts at this mill.
The Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia, in its first restoration
used wooden gears that came out of the nearby Jackson's Mill, after
John Blake Campbell (millwright and hydraulic engineer) who was then
pushed out of the job. The experienced Mr. Campbell was pushed aside
by a day-laborer off the street who had discovered his plans, and then went
behind his back saying he could do the job for less money. The gear teeth
were already worn out, being scalloped on both sides. They took the old
worn out teeth as a standard of a gear tooth, and spent thousands and thousands
of dollars over the years to have new gear teeth made that were already
worn out before they were ever used. I remember Jackson's Mill as
being very different (a smaller wooden building) than the Burwell-Morgan
Old worn out wooden gear teeth and cogs could be used as Interpretive
Trash. However, Interpretive Trash in a mill would include cobwebs,
layers of flour dust, discarded partially empty sacks, spilled grain that
world border on becoming rancid and bug ridden. Interpretive Trash
is often a hard sell, if your operation depends upon maintaining heath standards.
This is why some individuals and groups maintain, you can't do First-Person
Interpretation Living History in an operating mill, because you can't
have Interpretive Trash in a sterile museum health standard maintained environment.
I built a wooden Shaving Horse while I worked at Peirce Mill,
Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., and two Shaving Horses while I
worked at Virginia's Explore Park, Roanoke, Virginia. I used the Shaving
Horse demonstrate the making of wood shingles, and Wooden Wedges.
During my time at Peirce Mill I also made a Rope Making Machine
that I had originally constructed for demonstrations at the Colonial
Rope Walk in Georgetown. Since it was stored at Peirce Mill,
and the mill also used rope, I would also used it for demonstrations at
the mill from time to time.
If your mill falls into the time period of the late 1800's to early 1900's,
all you have to do to get a start on mill artifacts is get several flour
milling machinery catalogs to look in the back as the small items that were
sold for use in mills. This makes a good starting point especially if you
can find a company's catalog that goes along with much of the brand name
machinery in your mill. Generally they list prices and show drawings all
the items that were needed to maintain millstones, and roller milling operations.
You can find many things that I have previously mentioned in this article,
and other things that I have not mentioned, such as: Grain Probe,
Grain Sampler, Flour Testers, Sack Needles, Bag
Holders, Half-Bushel Scoops, Mill Tools, etc.
Artifacts should be approbate to the historical time period and technology
found in that particular mill that to the era that it has been restored.
For example, artifacts of a millstone era, Oliver Evans automated
flour milling system, millstone new process mill would be very different
than that of a roller mill. And a roller mill would have items that would
be very different than a millstone mill, unless it was a combination mill,
a mill with both roller mills and millstones or burr mills. A roller mill
for example would have a roller trammel to fit that brand of roller mill
and the size of the rollers in those mills. One for a Case Roller Mill
would be much smaller than that of a Wolf Roller Mill. Unless it
was a mill much like Mathews' Mill in Jones Mill, Pennsylvania, that
once had millstones you might not find a Proof Staff. If it was a
mill with a history like the Linchester Mill, in Linchester, Maryland,
that once had Wolf Roller Mills, and then later it had Case Roller
Mills, then you might find trammels of two different sizes.
Your Museum Handbook or should address the issue of using original
milling machinery in milling demonstrations. In a real mill the millstones
would be regularly dressed and then replaced when they wore out. A standard
domestic pair of millstones of operated everyday would last on the average
of twenty years. A pair of French millstones would last on average of a
man's lifetime or 100 years. The wear on a pair of millstones for regular
milling demonstrations is not measurable, and in fact demonstrations are
no where near the point of real mill operations milling. Each mill is different,
some mills may wish to remove original millstones and place them into artifact
storage, while others may wish the historical millstones to be used for
future learning demonstrations and producing souvenir bags of products.
It is best for effective demonstrations, housekeeping, maintenance, and
to maintain health standards to replace any and all old leather belting
with new, and to replace elevator belts and cups also with new material
that is free of old contaminated materials. Unless the mill's artifact storage
area has unlimited storage space, you may wish only to save sections of
old belting and elevator cups and belting. Some of these items may be cut
up and mounted onto plaques and given to large donators of money for future
restorations rather than collecting dust and wasting space on items that
are recently made for previous restorations. This would be similar to old
seats out of historical theaters are sold at auction or given away to large
donators when they are replaced.
The Curatorial Management Plan should address items that the staff
or volunteers may brings in and use for demonstrations. This is important
when individuals have worked at a site for long periods of time, and then
when they leave so many other individuals are new faces could not challenge
or know what is personal property or park property. My college advisor was
going to a party. He was loading up his station wagon, and placed the party
cake on the roof. He got into the car and drive to the site of the party,
and when he got there, they asked him, "Where is the cake?" Needless
to say, he drove off with it on his roof. When I worked in the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park, a staff person was doing demonstrations
with period tools. He was loading them into his car, and placed a broad
ax on the roof in the process of loading up. When he got to his destination,
he wondered what had happened to the broad ax? When he remembered that he
had placed it on the roof, and then drove back along his route of travel,
he could not find it anywhere. Someone had stopped and found themselves
a nice period artifact, a broad ax.
I like to have items on hand that I would never use in milling demonstrations
but are neat to have around to pull out once and a while to ask visitors,
"Do you know what this was used for?" A good example of this is
a Sack Holder.
I know of at least three (Merchant) Mills which have been
restored where the old original machinery has been removed, broken to pieces,
taken apart and piled in attic areas where the public is not allow. These
were Oliver Evans mills where there are broken or taken apart pieces
of Hopper-Boys, and other period historical machinery. The mills
have been restored as something that is out of the realms of historical
One example is the Burwell-Morgan Mill, in Millwood, Virginia. I
remember the mill before it was restored, and have photographs of it. I
retain the image in my mind of the inside of the mill had four pairs of
millstones arranged around a corn cob crusher (similar to the one at Peirce
Mill), and the mill once had an external water wheel on the down stream
side of the gable end of the building. Even seeing the mill as a teenager,
I had learned enough from my grandfather to know that the four millstones
had been driven by a Great Spur Wheel. I found a photo of the wooden
Fitz Water Wheel on the back side of the mill, because on the millstone
spindles there were Fitz metal pinion gears like those at Peirce Mill,
in Rock Creek Park. Someone at the Burwell-Morgan Mill said, "Oh,
no, that is not our mill but the Custom (Grist) Mill
just down stream. I still beg to differ with them, the building behind the
water wheel is the Burwell-Morgan Mill before it was restored, and
the Library of Congress would have had to of printed the photograph
by Theodor Horydczak (1890-1971), taken circa 1920-1950 backwards
for it to be mistaken as the other mill. Also for many years, the wooden
shaft of this old water wheel lay behind the Burwell-Morgan Mill,
and many people remembered the wheel being on the back of the mill. Charlie
Howell though the Burwell-Morgan
Mill originally had two water wheels. However, in another division
of the Library of Congress and National Park Service, Historic
American Buildings Survey, identified the other stone Custom
(Grist) Mill, as the Burwell Mill, State Route 723,
Millwood, Clarke County, Virginia.
Another mill that has period historical machinery taken apart and broken
up that is stacked in piles on its upper floors is the Union Mills,
outside of Westminster, Maryland. The mill consultant discovered that historically
the mill had two water wheels, with each water wheel operating four pairs
of millstones. However, the millwright that restored the mill ignored the
historical research, and did what he wanted to do. He installed one breast
shot, and four pairs of millstones on a theater like in the round separated
millstone floor. It is one thing to say, the stream today cannot operate
two water wheels, but two water wheels should have been installed with the
correct configuration of the machinery inside of the mill with the option
to run one side or the other, much like the double mirrored mill at the
Eling Tide Mill in Totten, near Southampton, England. The Burwell-Morgan
Mill and Union Mills make fine multi-use faculties if that it
what the scope of the original restoration agreement was. Even the miller's
office at the Union Mills is strangely sterile and empty of anything that
should be there in a real mill at any historical period in time. The walls
of the miller's office at the Burwell-Morgan Mill have been removed
in the first restoration, and made to look like a stage or a platform where
the miller presents his programs to the public. It looks much like the Captains
deck on a ship where he observes the operation and movement of the ship,
but in this case it is the operation of just two pairs of millstones.
The date of 1795 means more to the history and development of flour milling.
It is a bench mark date. It is the date that "The Young Mill-Wright
and Miller's Guide" was published by Oliver Evans. It actually
went through 15 editions to 1860. However, 1795 is when the millers and
millwright's bible was published, the first textbook or handbook that gave
practical useful information how to build, and operate a Flour Mill.
The year of 1795 is basically meaningless, unless it can be traced to the
building of a mill. The construction date of the Burwell-Morgan Mill
is 1785, and on average it took three years to build a mill. Then by
the time the mill was completed, Oliver Evans automated flour milling
systems must have simply been the next step in its completion. If you read
the works by Terry Sharrer, "Oliver Evans and the Beginning of Automated
Milling in Maryland and the Upper South," all of the new and existing
mills in what would become the District of Columbia and Georgetown by 1790
were already being equipped or reequipped with Evans' system. The mills
upper wooden floor that was supposedly built to accommodate the added height
may have simply been a quick fix to get the mill operating. If flour was
carried in barrels to the Shenandoah River, and onto the Potomac River and
to either Georgetown or Alexandria to be exported. The Upper South means,
northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. It is silly logic to say that
the mill had a history or a length of time were it could have operated without
using Evans' system. A period of possibly three to five years at the most.
As the flour found its way to the seaports, the latest technology effecting
other Merchant Mills would have found its way quickly back to the
source of the flour.
There is a Wooden
Bottle Weight with a Metal Collar Ring where the Leather
Strap end fits inside. The leather strap is held in place with a round
wooden wedge. This one was found in the Gear Pit at the Burwell-Morgan
Mill, in Millwood, Virginia. The Gear Pit became the Water Wheel
Pit in the restoration of the mill, if it had been the Water Wheel Pit
originally, the Wooden Bottle Weight would have rotted or floated
away. It is more likely that the Wooden Bottle Weight fell down into
the Gear Pit that was originally in the location of the present Water
Wheel Pit, than someone tossing it into there. The Wooden Bottle
Weight is in too good of condition to have laid in a Water Wheel
Pit for years.
The Miller's Office in the Bunker Hill Mill, County Route 26,
Bunker Hill vicinity, Berkeley County, West Virginia. The Miller's Office
rivals that of the Ressler (Mascot Roller) Mill with
being full of Mill Artifacts. The building was documented by the
Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Historic American Engineering
Record (HAER). The mill was also known as Cline & Chapman Roller
Mill. the mill was built by Thomas Anderson in 1735, and commercially
operated until 1964 by Paul Giles. The mill was rebuilt after a fire left
the stone building an empty shell in 1887. The mill was last water powered
by two tandem I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheels made by the Fitz
Water Wheel Company, Hanover, Pennsylvania, and are set number 7741.
Tandem water wheels were used at this mill as early as 1879. The two tandem
water wheels from that time were crushed when the water wheel side of the
stone building collapsed in the mill fire. The upstream water wheel (closest
to the mill pond) is 14 feet, 9 inches in diameter by 5 feet wide and powered
the roller mill and other machinery of the mill. The downstream (tail race)
water wheel is slightly larger being 16 feet, 2 inches in diameter by 6
feet wide and it powered the pair of millstones. The mill once had a conventional
roller milling system but was later replaced by a Midget Marvel Mill.
Dispute the recent death of Paul Giles (who would occasionally operated
the downstream water wheel and the millstones), the mill still remains one
of the oldest operational mills in the area.
Another mill I know that has been dumbed down when I visited the mill several
years ago, I discovered parts of a Hopper-Boy, and a Branding
Iron. People working at the mill had no idea what these artifacts were
or what they had been used for. I really hate the words, "old timey,"
because so many mills have been dumbed down. Mills that were built to grind
wheat and produce white flour as a commercial mill or Merchant Mill,
when they were restored all of the flour making machinery was removed and
they were turned into Grist or Custom Mills.
The Miller's Office at Peirce Mill was removed in the second
restoration of the mill. The Peirce Mill has a Basement Fireplace
like so many other mills of the period, not for heat, but to heat Branding
Irons for Flour Barrel Heads. A number of books in the Miller's
Bookshelf, mention the use of Branding Irons in operating
mills. The Federal Government never forgets. Raymond Watt retired
as miller from Peirce Mill in December of 1959, but kept coming by
the mill on weekends to answer questions and add color to the mill until
the mid-1960's when his heath began to fail. I have seen and read the memos
about the Miller's Office that Mr. Watt was having problems keeping
in order. So in the second restoration after he kept coming and had passed
away, they removed the temptation for the new miller to clutter up the Miller's
Office where the public could view it. Instead they build a Park Operations
office on the mill's second floor where one of the large room sized grain
storage bins was once located. This placed the Pot Belly Stove in
the same room as the first floor grinding operations room. It exposed the
fire to the flour dust, and smoke to the public visitors and school groups.
The Miller's Office had a Dutch Door where the bottom could
have been shut to keep people out but allow for the viewing of the Pot
Belly Stove, the Miller's Desk, and other items that would have
been found in a traditional Miller's Office. I have seen an old photo
of the mill's historical square box stove in the Miller's Office.
What does the last half dozen paragraphs boil down to? A Museum Handbook
that would contain a furnishing plan for the historic structure of the mill,
and a collections plan for items that would be found in that mill of a set
time period. My biggest fear what that someone in the National Park Service
would assign someone to do a furnishing and collections plans for the Peirce
Mill that had never been in a mill before or never look at a book about
mills in their lifetime. Typically these sort of writing projects and their
money goes to a relative or a friend of a friend of a Park Service staff
An example, is that is has been stated that Isaac Pearce was from
Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania, and what is in Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania?
Longwood Gardens! Isaac Pearce and his one son, Joshua, were
in the nursery business in Washington, D.C. It was easy to figure out that
at Longwood Garden is a building called the Pierce-Du Pont House that was
build it 1744. With some digging I learned that Samuel and Joshua Peirce
(Isaac Pearce's two twin brothers) started Peirce Arboretum in 1780,
that became known as Pierce Park in the 19th century and then Longwood
Gardens in 1906 when the family wanted to sell off the timber on the
property. It is all mention is a book that Longwood Gardens once sold in
their gift shop, called "Tulip Trees, and Quaker Gentlemen."
Some years later, someone was hired to write a history of the Peirce-Klingle
Mansion in Rock Creek Park, and they heard that their may have been
a connection between Isaac Pearce and Longwood Gardens. So
she called up Longwood Gardens and asked if they had ever heard about
Isaac Pearce in Washington, D.C., and if there was a family connection?
The person basically answered, never heard of him, so there must be no family
connection. So much for tulip trees and two Quaker gentleman. The drawing
of one of Isaac Pearce's one brother's Joshua Peirce looks just like
the photographs of his nephew Joshua Peirce in Washington, D.C. "Tulip
Trees & Quaker Gentlemen: 19th-Century Horticulture at Longwood Gardens,"
by Leslie Spraker, illustrated by Joan Walker, Published by Longwood Gardens,
Inc., Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania, printed by Falcon Press, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, 1975. I would think that this book would have been given to
each new staff member at Longwood Gardens to read. I know it is not
a perfect world, but they should at least get the facts correct.
It also should be mentioned that the decedents of Isaac Pearce who
owned and lived in the Colverdale Mansion, claimed to have a painting
of Isaac Pearce, who must have looked like his twin brothers and his one
son Joshua Peirce.
One of the problems is that how can you get the museum management plan correct
if the mill has been restored to follow a fairy tale.
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, "Tools
of the Miller and the Millwright."
Please Note: The following pages in this web site deal directly with
mill museum artifacts:
Found in Early American Mills, making it look more like a real mill.
Weights, as used in regulating grinding with millstones.
Miller's Office, the most important item in mill interpretation.
Items Found in an Average Grist Mill Circa 1840-70.
in Interpretation - Buyer Beware!
for New Museums
Handbook Outline and Job Description for a Mill Museum Curator.
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