Design in North America.
Good morning, Mr Hazen, I hope you don't mind answering a couple
of other questions:
1. One of your reports on the web site describes a general
mistrust of millers by the Europeans through the 18th century.
Does this attitude originate with the feudal sokes that required
peasants and citizens to have their grain processed in a manorial
2. In defining Old Process and New Process milling, does this
refer specifically to the traditional extraction method of direct
reduction (Old Process) and the new Gradual Reduction Method (New
Process)? Or would the term New Process Milling also incorporate
new technologies like the middling purifier and roller? If I'm
interpreting the reference material correctly, it appears that
the New Process Mill was defined by its gradual reduction method
of grinding, and that the new technologies that revolutionized
the industry were the direct result of switching to the "New
Thank you very much and have a nice day.
Dear Thomas Jones,
Thank you for your e-mail. It seems like that I addressed these
questions either on my web site, or to someone in the past, but
I will answer them again.
Question 1. One of your reports on the web site describes
a general mistrust of millers by the Europeans through the 18th
century. Does this attitude originate with the feudal sokes that
required peasants and citizens to have their grain processed in
a manorial mill?
Answer: No, the general attitude about the dishonest
or mistrust of millers originates with the fact that milling was
a trade that was learned though apprenticeship. Because milling
was a craft or trade that was learned by apprenticeship, the knowledge
of the art of milling was a safeguarded secret.
The secrets of the art of milling are safeguarded between the
master miller, the journeyman miller, and the apprentice miller
or miller's helper. The master miller has served his apprenticeship,
and has worked an equal number of years being a journeyman miller.
The master miller now operates a mill of his own, runs a mill
for a miller owner, or is some how bonded to landowner. The master
miller can take on apprentices, he is lord and master over their
lives. The master miller has to cloth, feed, house, and care fore
his apprentices. It is up to the master miller if what education
is provided outside of the trade. Some do and some are just not
interested in apprentices learning math, languages, grammar, etc.
The master miller is master over his apprentices, so is rule is
law. This means if the master says that he stole something, or
has not completed the skills and knowledge that should be learned
by set time periods, he can make the apprentice serve years over
and over again.
The German children's song: "Das Wandern ist des Mullers
Lust," talks about a whole way of life of the past that is
behind this traditional song, which cannot be rendered by a translation.
The following is a very poor interpretation of the song.
"Das Wandern ist des Mullers Lust"
1. Traveling by foot is the joy of the miller. He must be a
bad miller, who never got the idea of walking from place to place.
2. The water was our teacher. It never is quiet, neither by day
nor by night, always getting on.
3. We are also learning from the wheels, Which don't like to stand
still. And don't get tired by turning around all day.
4. Even the stones as heavy as they are, Are dancing with them
and would like to be faster.
5. Oh walking, walking is my joy! Mr. Master and Mrs. Master,
let me go on in peace.
The miller would travel to find a mill, to serve the first
3 years of his apprenticeship. Then he would pickup and set a
traveling again to locate a mill to complete his last 3 years
of his apprenticeship. Because the wheels in the mill travel round
and round, the miller must travel round and round. His old master
must certify him that he has learned what he should have learned
in his first 3 years of apprenticeship. A bad master would say
that you have not learned it to the level that you should have
and make you serve another year. Since the masters word was law,
it could stretch it out again and again.
A dishonest miller was a craftsman after all and much to valuable
to hang it he was found taking more than his far "toll"
or payment for grinding grain. The miller collected his toll and
the toll from the peasants for the lord, abbott, master or king.
Instead of hanging the miller they hanged his helper or apprentice.
The town gallows was often located outside in front of the mill.
If it was a windmill, then one of the sail arms would serve as
a gallows to hang the apprentice. The idea being in time, the
master would have to change his ways or he would not get any parents
of young children knocking on his door.
You apprenticed to a master craftsman for 7 years to learn
a trade. You lived with him, and sometimes were mistreated. The
master whose word was law. The journeyman who could go and work
as a miller until he met the requirements to become a master in
his own right. The apprentice who had no rights, was basically
an indentured slave.
When someone came to the mill, The art of the miller or the
millwright, is also part of the secrets of the craft. Basically
if I tell you, or you see me practicing my trade, I will have
to kill you! A craftsman who learned his craft though apprenticeship
did not practice his trade or craft in front of others or shared
that knowledge with others. This is the basic problem with interpretation
of historical sites like an old mill or Colonial Williamsburg.
The miller saw someone coming down the road, he turned off the
mill. The visitor, farmer, or customer did not see the mill operating,
or see anything apart. The mill told him to leave the grain, go
fishing, swimming, picnicking or ice skating on the mill pond,
but don't hang around here.
Then there is the dishonest miller in Chaucer 's "The
Miller in the Canterbury Tales." Chaucer in the "Reeve's
Tale" gave the miller a name, "Simpkin" is making
fun of the person of the miller. Simpkin or Simpleton is intended
to suggest a surname, but it is making a joke of the word "simple,"
meaning, "a fool."
Question 2. In defining Old Process and New Process
milling, does this refer specifically to the traditional extraction
method of direct reduction (Old Process) and the new Gradual Reduction
Method (New Process)? Or would the term New Process Milling also
incorporate new technologies like the middling purifier and roller?
If I'm interpreting the reference material correctly, it appears
that the New Process Mill was defined by its gradual reduction
method of grinding, and that the new technologies that revolutionized
the industry were the direct result of switching to the "New
Answer: "Old Process Milling" generally refers
to the method of flour and grain milling used prior to the inventions
of Oliver Evans. "New Process Milling" is a system that
came about after Oliver Evans which used millstones, but before
the introduction of "Gradual Reduction Milling" which
Mills in America passed through at least four major eras of technology:
1. The traditional pre-settlement European technology ("LOW
MILLING," "FLAT MILLING," or "AMERICAN
2. The Oliver Evans "AUTOMATED MILLING SYSTEM"
3. The NEW PROCESS MILLING SYSTEM of the 1850's and 1860's ("HALF-HIGH
MILLING" technology) which involves regrinding middlings
on smaller diameter millstones.
4. The ROLLER MILLING SYSTEM of the 1870's ("HIGH GRINDING,"
or "GRADUAL REDUCTION" technology), which incorporated
the New Process milling system and the use of the "ROLLER
PROCESS." This process of "WHEAT SAW MILLING"
was developed by Hungarian engineers in the mid-century.
1. "LOW MILLING," "FLAT MILLING,"
or "AMERICAN MILLING" technology involves the
use of millstones. The millstones may be of a very large diameter
of 5 to 6 feet. There is no cleaning of grain other than what
the farmer uses to fail and winnow the grain. Flour and grain
are stored in the floor in the mill. Each step is a separate stage
in the milling process and must be completed before the next step
Grain is brought to the mill in sacks. The grain may or may
not be weighed. If it is weighed then it is noted in a log book.
It is either hoisted on the outside of the milling, hoisted on
the inside though a series of trap doors on each level of the
mill, or is carried up steps on the backs of the miller and his
Some mills had the luxury of having a small pair of millstones
2 to 3 feet in diameter known as "Ending Stones." Ending
stones were similar to hulling stones which were used to hull
oats and buckwheat. The stones are set far apart with fixed rynds,
to remove adhering dirt, beard of the wheat, the outer skin or
bran and some of the germ. I have never heard why this pre-milling
process is called, "ending." Ending stones are usually
located next to the millstones on the mill's first floor or grinding
floor of the mill.
There is an area on the mill's second floor or underneath the
elves of the attic for grain to be dumped into open bins. Here
the miller may mix grains of different types or qualities into
one constant grade of wheat. The miller may also temper and condition
the wheat. This is accomplished by the use of water and the heat
of found in the attic. This process toughens up the bran so when
the wheat is milled it comes off larger flakes, and the moisture
level is maintained though the batch of wheat so it will all mill
the same, and be milled properly.
The grain is moved to the hopper above the millstones. Grain
is ground one time. Once all of the grain or wheat is milled,
it is collected from a bin in the mill's basement, and either
hoisted, carried up narrow steps or ladders to the upper floor
or attic of the mill. It may be transported by sack or hoisted
in a sack or large wooden tub though the trap doors on each level
of the mill.
The grain is dumped onto the floor. Here the miller's helper
or apprentice rakes the ground flour back and forth to cool it
so it can be sifted, or then allowed to age. Aging allows the
flour to naturally whiten, and to improve its baking qualities.
Sifting or bolting was not consistent from one mill to another.
Some mills did not bolt the flour, and flour had to be bolted
(boulted) by a boulting mill, or a baker. Some mills bolting was
done by use of hand sifting screens or temes. This comes from
the phrase "to set the temes (Thames) on fire." Temes
were constantly agitated by a boy. Since the sifter was made of
wood, too energetic might set it on fire. The phase was used negatively
("you will never set the Thames on fire") to signify
that the young person is lacking in energy.
Some mills had hand sifters that were powered by a crank, or
a reel sifter that was powered by rope drives. The problem with
had crank and rope drive sifters was over-feeding. This was because
feeding into the device was done by hand-feeding from a sack,
scooping, or shoveling. The French considered sifting or bolting
such a complicated operation that it could not exist in conjunction
with a flour milling operation that it had to be in a separate
The miller's work station is in the basement of the mill where
the flour and meal bins are located below the millstones on the
level above. The miller when to the millstone level to fill the
millstone hoppers and to dress the millstones. The miller's helpers
did all of the work on the other floor or levels of the mill.
A miller might have several to as many as four or five miller's
helpers to operate the mill. Mills were primarily operated during
the daylight hours.
2. The Oliver Evans "AUTOMATED MILLING SYSTEM"
of 1787. When Oliver Evans made his improvements in flour milling
in 1782-3 he incorporated the rolling screen and fan mills to
clean grain in his automated flour milling system. He invented
five machines or devices (as he liked to call them). The elevator,
the conveyor (or auger), hopper-boy (or cooler), the descender
and drill (which were not designed to be used in all mills, like
the marine elevator leg which was used in mills along canals and
waterways to lift grain from holds in ships.
Some Oliver Evans continued to use "Ending Stones."
They were used before the cleaning machines found in the mill's
attic. The ending stones were often located next to the traditional
millstones on the grinding floor.
The ideal Oliver Evans mill grain would be poured from a wagon
into a grain dump. A hinged covered hopper that projects from
the outside wall of the mill along the roadside. It the mill was
converted to an Oliver Evans mill from a preexisting mill, then
a small basement window opening was used to become the space for
the grain dump. From the grain dump, the grain was poured into
a bin scales, and from the bin scales the grain fell into an open
bin that fed the grain elevator. The grain elevator took the grain
to the top floor where it could be poured into different bins.
One of these bins could feed into a lower bin that fed the ending
stones. From the ending stones grain fell downward to be fed either
by chute or conveyor into a grain elevator which took the grain
to the top floor once again to be feed into a bin which feed the
rolling screen, and the fan machine. From the fan machine the
grain was feed either by cute into a bin, or conveyor that moved
it horizontally into a number of bins. One of them was a cleaned
grain bin, another was a tempering and conditioning bin, and one
bin fed the bin hopper for the first pair of millstones on the
first floor level.
Grain was ground by this first pair of millstones 48 to 56
inches in diameter. From this pair of millstones the ground material
fell down a cute to be picked up by an conveyor in the basement
that moved it to the chop elevator. The chop elevator carried
the grain to the top floor once again where it passed though the
hopper-boy or cooler. The cooled flour was feed though the floors
by chute into a double reel bolter. The fine flour was feed into
a flour bin from which it was packaged into barrels. The middlings
were feed into a bin where it was mixed with fresh raw grain or
wheat. From this bin the mixture when by a chute to the hopper
of the second pair of millstones 48 to 56 inches in diameter where
it was ground, and the material when when ground was moved by
chute and conveyor to the chop elevator back upstairs once again
to be feed though either the first or second hopper-boy and the
double reel bolter.
For grain to be unloaded from ships there were several means
available. One method was a grain dump on the waterway side of
the mill which feed grain from the bottom to an conveyor that
carried the grain across the mill to the grain elevator. A second
method was a diagonal elevator mounted in the wall of the mill
where the grain could be poured form sacks into a grain sink on
the boot of the elevator where it would be elevatored into the
mill where the delivery chute would be used to fill grain sacks
inside of the mill. Third was the use of a marine elevator leg
which was movable from the top of the up and down and on an angle
to go into ships holds. Grain could be moved up the marine elevator
leg up to the top of the mill where it would be poured into a
hopper which would feed grain into a conveyor which carried the
grain across the mill to the various wheat bins. So the first
method feed it in from the bottom, and the third method feed it
in from the top, while the other method used a traditional internal
sack hoist to lift grain to the top level by the use of a sack
hoist and trap doors on each level.
At one time would the grain or flour would be stored in the
floors of the mill. A flour press machine would be pack the flour
into barrels, and mud covered boots would not be used to press
the right amount of flour into each barrel. The miller's work
station is on the first floor of the mill where he could adjust
the millstones, had control ropes and control handles that move
grain from one bin to another, from one chute or down another
without leaving the first floor of the mill. One or two millers,
or a miller and his apprentice could operate the mill that was
described. During this time period mills began to be operated
around the clock in three watches or shifts.
3. The "NEW PROCESS MILLING SYSTEM" of the
1850's and 1860's ("HALF-HIGH MILLING" technology)
which involves regrinding middlings on smaller diameter millstones.
This process of flour milling is difficult to explain since I
have only ever found two existing examples that have survived
into the 20th century intact.
With the first two methods of flour milling: (1) "LOW
MILLING," "FLAT MILLING," or "AMERICAN
MILLING," and (2) Oliver Evans' "AUTOMATED MILLING
SYSTEM" the method of grain milling remained the same.
The millstones should be always sharply dressed, running fast,
close, and with a lot of pressure on the grain to produces as
much flour in one grinding as possible. The problem was that this
method produced a lot of hot damp ground flour. Three basic steps
were necessary, cleaning, grinding, and bolting. The problem was
that the flour produced in the second milling was generally poorer
grading having been killed because of heat generated problems
in the hot close millstones. Oliver Evans recommended that middlings
be reground alone lightly, or along with fresh grain on regular
pair of millstones so that they would not be overheated and the
One American solution was offered by a "mealman"
David Bonnell who in August 1849 in the United States and in 1850
patented his "improved process of flouring." David Bonnell
used special millstones "auxiliary stones" or "middling
stones" three feet in diameter and running at 300 to 500
revolutions per minute to regrind everything left over from the
first grind, thus producing a more superfine and larger portions
of the grain.
Grain was feed into the first grind millstones from here it
feel down a chute to a bin where it was lifted upward by an elevator
to the hopper-boy on the mill's top level. There it was cooled
and the ground flour when to separating or scalping reels. These
were double reels one one top of the other, with the tailings
from the top reel feeding into the head of the second reel mounted
below it. Flour would be separated out at this point, and the
tailings from the second reel would go to the auxiliary or middling
stones to be reground. These middling stones were belt driven
and often located on a level above the first grind millstones.
Most people who visited the mill on the first floor may never
have know that there was a smaller pair of millstones mounted
on a level above on a small table or platform.
The ground product of the auxiliary millstones went though
two double sets of reels. The first set of double reels were the
dusting and grading reels and the second set of double reels were
dressing reels. The tailings from the first double set of reels
used for dusting and grading when into an elevator back up to
the hopper-boy to be recooled and reground once again. The material
that when though the mesh of the dusting and grading reels when
into the head of the dressing reels.
In the 1853 edition of "The Miller's, Millwright's
and Engineer's Guide," by Henry Pallett, he advocated
three methods for remilling middlings. The first two were similar
to that of Oliver Evans' method and the third was similar to that
of David Bonnell. Henry Pallett's third method was an improvement
over the Oliver Evans' method, and an improvement over David Bonnell's
method. The Pallett method used middling stones of 3 to 3 1/2
feet in diameter, with a different millstone dress and the speed
slowed to 130 revolutions per minute. The middlings were treated
with less heat and pressure than in Bonnell's method, and less
likely to be killed.
David Craik's book "The Practical American Millwright
and Miller," he described his version of a "New
Process" mill has having five pairs of wheat stones, and
two pairs of middling stones with a six reel chest of six bolts,
and two three reel chests with three hopper-boys. David Craik's
method involved the use of first run middling stones to grind
first quality flour, and the second run middling stones to regrind
second quality flour or a mixture of lower grades depending upon
the quality of the middlings.
Signs that this milling period was coming to an end was forced
flour bolters and dusters. Oliver Evans hopper-boy was replaced
by other methods of cooling flour, and flour exhausts came into
4. The "ROLLER MILLING SYSTEM" of the 1870's
("HIGH GRINDING," or "GRADUAL REDUCTION"
technology), which incorporated the New Process milling system
and the use of the "ROLLER PROCESS."
During this period it involved two methods of milling from
Europe. The first being the continental method of running the
millstones high and slow, to produce as many middlings as possible
in the first grinding. In Europe labor was plentiful and lacked
the automatic flour machinery of North America. The contrast between
the North American system and the continental system was that
it was not automatic.
John Storck and Walter Dorwin Teague in "Flour for
Man's Bread, A History of Milling," University of Minnesota
Press, 1952, wrote.
"in one account of this East European system of gradual
reduction, mentioned is made of 84 classes of partial product
- middlings and the like - each requiring individual handing from
machine to machine for a long time with but little benefit of
conveyor, elevator, or spout. Hundreds of little buckets stood
around the mill, each in position to receive its own particular
material, scores of men busied themselves carrying the products
in the buckets on to the next state of processing, on the basic
on decisions made on each batch of stock by the head miller. To
an uninitiated observer a mill of this kind must have seemed as
mysteriously confused as a busy ant hill, but actually an all
pervading system controlled the curious activity, and each operation
was definitely related to the others in a sequential chain. After
one process, and you would have to change many others to get a
satisfactory result; let something slip even so slightly anywhere
and not one but possibly all of the ten or so grades of flour
and several varieties of bran might be injured."
So what happens (second) when "gradual reduction"
comes to America in 1863 is the development of a "second"
"new process." In 1863 a patent by John Braun (changed
to Brown) used ideas brought to North America by immigrants from
France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the big mill owners of Minneapolis.
A "new school" of flour milling was developed, using
modern machinery. In 1877, R. C. Brown (no relation to John Brown)
was published titled "The New Process Milling, or Practical
Suggestions on the Reconstruction of Mills." This book
deals with the revamping of old mills to the "new process"
milling of stage number three. However, this book soon became
out of date with the adoption of roller mills.
"New process milling" involved the flowing steps:
Cleaning, milling, and bolting. Then remilling the middlings and
rebolting the flour. "Gradual reduction milling" required
these five basic steps: Grain cleaning, granulation, purifying,
milling, and bolting (then remilling, repurifying and rebolting)
Some millers and people regarded this method as "granulation"
rather than "gradual reduction" or "high grinding."
If millstones were used, they were ran higher than ever before,
and slower, especially during the first grinding of wheat, to
"granulate" (this was later referred to as break, crack,
or chop) the grain into a mixture f coarse granules known as middlings,
which included the flour and the bran. The granulated meal was
purified by being separated from the bran, offals, and the flour
in a purifier so middlings were sent to millstones to be remilled.
There was a greater increase in the number of steps which reduced
the speed of flour production.
From 1865 to 1875 was the mechanical era of change. "New
process milling" was replaced by a "new process of milling."
The Oliver Evans automated system of milling was introduced to
the European methods of flour milling techniques. The first step
was the introduction of a new process of high grinding and gradual
reduction of 1863, and the second was the change in gradual reduction
was using millstones and rollers about 1875, and the third was
the full adoption of the roller system about 1880. In the 1870's
came the development of new machines to go along with and be used
in the second development of "new process milling."
The middlings purifier became the principal factor for "new
process milling," and it had a widespread effect on the profit
and loss of a mill. The machine that fit in with the roller milling
and the purifier was the plansifter showed millers in American
and in Europe that mills of any size had to be run on an automatic
basis. Then mills became completely mechanized and automatic.
After 1885 the mills that were all rollers greatly increased,
while the mills that were all millstones, and combination of rollers
and millstones greatly declined. So when one talks about the "new
process milling" there are two separate and distinct stages,
steps or methods of milling (to make it more confusing) they are
both called simply, "New Process" milling. During centuries
of gradual isolation the miller's mysterious art of milling was
little understood by the general public. In the late nineteenth
century a new kind of miller appears who no longer had to deal
with suspicious neighbors, but was a progressive manufacturer.
The down side of this was that thousands of little grist or toll
mills all over the country would stop entirely, and their picturesque
building began to decay and crumble into ruins. The change began
to happen in New England, New York and the Middle Atlantic States
where Oliver Evans development led to automatic manufacture. Though
all of this the miller played his part while they emerged from
a craft stage to where they became mass producers, makers, and
Thank you very much for all your help, sir. If you don't mind,
I'd love to send you a copy of my summary to peruse and critique.
I'll probably have it done in the next month, or so.
Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
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