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Why Mills?

Clark's Mill, Union City, Pennsylvania, photograph taken circa 1900.
The mill stood on Bridge Street along French Creek in Erie County.
Note boxcar on siding next to mill, and barrels of flour behind the wagon.
Photo Union City Museum and the Historic American Building Survey.

Mills of the Wooden Age and Industrial Age.

The Mill is of great importance because it supplied one of man's the basic needs of life, that of food. We need to save the best examples of each phase in the history and development of flour milling for the education of future generations. For example, we need mills of the pre-Evans technology; Oliver Evans automated flour mills; new process mills, roller mills, and to some extent feed mills. This would allow the interested observer to clearly understand the extraordinary impact that Oliver Evans' inventions, and its impact on agriculture and the industrial revolution. The celebrated American, Oliver Evans, who is considered by many to be the first thoroughgoing plant engineer who brought us into the Industrial Revolution, and the modern industrial era.

Mills illustrates the tremendous advance in the use of natural power, and the gradual evolution of mechanical engineering. The marvelous mills freed our ancestors from manual labor. The millers and millwrights because of Oliver Evans discovered principles of practical science to which we owe the leisure time that we take for granted, so their had time to improve their knowledge of the craft in the art of milling.

The ideal would be to have examples of each phase in the history lined up one after another, so visitors could walk from one building into another as a time traveler, but this is unlikely to happen. It is an interesting story to interpret Oliver Evans inventions, through their addition into the existing state of the art machinery, and what impact it had on milling technology. We are letting the opportunity to preserve the most complete examples of the different milling systems that are becoming extinct.

Theodore R. Hazen, Jr.,
Historical Molinologist.

A Flour Mill Interior, built in 1918.

A Midget Marvel Mill (above), is a Self-Contained Roller Mill, that was built by the Anglo-American Mill Company, Owensboro, Kentucky. The Midget Marvel Mill was invented and designed by an English milling engineer, A. B. Tattersall, of London, England. Mr. Tattersall had a wonderful way of writing books advertising his mills, such as "The Story of a Wonderful Mill." Once he traveled to Russia to deliver one of his mills that became the source for another booklet. The Anglo-American Mill Company at one time claimed to be the largest flour milling machinery company in the world. During World War Two, the company retooled to make tanks for the war, but never returned the business afterwards.

"The Story of a Wonderful Flour Mill: Midget Marvel," originally published by the Anglo-American Mill Co., Owensboro, KY, 1916. The Story of a Wonderful Flour Mill presents a short history of the Anglo-American Mill Co., accompanied with photos of its founders and executives. There are also many excellent pictures of Anglo-American Mill Corporations's manufacturing facilities, showing various stages in the manufacture of a flour mill, including lathes, drill presses, milling machines, and other wood-working and metal-working machines in use. After the history of the company, the excellence and solid construction of the company's flour mills are touted. Throughout, there are small by very nice pictures (exterior shots) of mills around the United States that use Anglo-American Mill Corporation mills.

"Milling With the Midget Marvel Flour Mill," originally published by the Anglo-American Mill Co., Owensboro, KY, 1916. The "Preface" to the booklet, "Milling With the Midget Marvel Flour Mill,"states that:

"It is a simple mill, easy of understanding, and in a large measure automatic in its operation. This is true to such a degree that the best of results may be obtained by the application of common sense as a substitute for expert knowledge and by a thorough understanding of cause and effect and the principles of the mill's operation.

his book is intended to supply that information in a non-technical manner and so clearly that a careful reading of it and reference to it as occasion demands will simplify the whole subject and give what instruction is necessary in correcting trouble and turning out a product worthy of the mill. The subjects have been treated in order beginning with the cleaning of the wheat, and leading up to and through the mill, concluding with the finished products. Every effort has been made to discuss each point fully, yet not enough to confuse. Repetition has been eliminated, so far as possible, for the sake of clearness, and with the hope that our remarks on any subject will be remembered and considered in connection with all other matter in the book.

Naturally problems will present themselves from time to time which require personal instructions, and for that purpose you have at your disposal for advice our Milling Advisory Department. That department also, through a most efficient system of monthly sample inspection, safeguards your yield and quality by calling your attention to any errors you may make before it is too late.

The essentials of good milling are clean, sound wheat, correct conditioning, or tempering, proper grinding, and finally, what is just as important, a complete understanding of the MIDGET MARVEL mill. These essentials are dealt with and stressed in the endeavor o impress upon you their great importance.

A careful and thoughtful study of the contents of this book will prove invaluable to the novice as well as to the experienced miller and at the same time make it apparent that the MIDGET MARVEL mill can be successfully operated by any man of average intelligence who applies himself to the task."

A Web Site that brings the History and Technology of Mills to Life.

I remember as a young child, my father, taking me to the Venango Roller Mill, in Venango, Pennsylvania, where he had worked as a miller's helper. He showed me the huge wheel pit where at one time a breast shot water wheel had turned from the waters of French Creek. When he had worked there unloading grain for the mill and loading boxcars of flour, the mill was powered by water turbines. Sometimes we would stop at the F. A. Drake's Mill, Drake's Mills, Pennsylvania, where we would buy bags of buckwheat flour and pancake mix. We would walk across the road to the mill dam that my father had worked on building in the 1930's, and I would watch the water flowing down the mill race to power the mill's water turbines. I have not just traveled around the country photographing mills and reading about them, I spent my life working in a half dozen mills, and on a countless number of mills.

Pond Lily Mill Restorations Home Page provides information to museum organizations for those involved in living history, agricultural technology, and the history of mills and their folk life. I try to present useful knowledge to mill museums, both large and small, that they can use "living history" and interpretive programming.

The Pond Lily Mill Restorations Home Page since its creation in April of 1996, its founding purpose has always been to bring the history and technology to life.

The Pond Lily Mill Restorations Home Page has always tried to make history a valuable part of the lives of mill museums. It achieves this purpose through the exchange and sharing of ideas, information, tools and experiences centered around accurate, active, participatory, object-based historical interpretation.

Pond Lily Mill Restorations is committed to helping mill museum interpreters, educators, researchers, administrators, curators and volunteers in these areas:

1. Historical flour and grain milling.
2. The history and development of flour milling technology.
3. The historical trades and manufacturing associated with the grain milling industry.
4. The historical clothing and folklore affiliated with the life of the miller and others aligned with the trade.
5. Developing practical living history programming and interpretation and sharing that information with others.
6. Historic site restoration and preservation, creation of mill museum collections, and accurate program details within the above specialties.

Mills are Exciting and Irresistible!

Theodore R. Hazen, Jr.,
Master Miller, Millstone Dresser, Mill Consultant and Millwright.

Electronic mail to me for additional information, but first, proceed to the Pond Lily Mill Restorations main information page, site map, and the indexes of articles and images.

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Copyright 2003 by T. R. Hazen