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Questions & Answers for Forbes Mill Presentation.

Hello Ted Hazen

It has been some while since I last communicated with you but hope I can ask you a few questions before I hand in twelve Bedford Co. mill histories, an intro, photos and listing of Bedford County millers for publication this year.

Mrs. Harold Goode who has initiated the project has compiled a similar number of mill histories including some of the information you provided us on Forbes Mill - which I thank you for sending.

I will tell you- that someone recently wanted to buy the Forbes Mill from Bedford City/County and this is - as I see it - perhaps the only way, the expensive proposition of restoring this mill can be done. However the county supervisors have not organized a committee to deal with this proposition and have not have dealt with the mill for 2-3 years or so. Since the offer - they are probably scurrying around a little more than before. Word is out that they may offer it back to the Bedford museum. If so, my recommendation as a board member was to let someone private buy the mill with conditions that they restore it and maintain a connection to the museum. I will of course give your name to any potential buyer/restorer as a consultant if you wish.

Now for some questions that will help me conclude my intro.

Question 1: were millwrights apprenticed to the trade? Can you outline/ define a millwright's work? Were the ones I find listed in the county 1888 - builders of mills or another type of millwright?

Ted Hazen: Millwrights were apprenticed to the trade of the millwright, just like the miller was apprenticed to the trade of the miller, and the millstone dresser apprenticed to his trade. This is the part of "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide," by Oliver Evans, 1795 through 15 editions to 1860, is what the millwright learned in his apprenticeship. Things like how to locate a mill, which type of water wheel to use and how much machinery would any give water wheel could operate.

Basically after 1850 there were mill builders and millwrights. As of about 1850 companies began to build individual mill machinery. Oliver Evans began it with his business in Philadelphia, selling millstones, elevators, conveyors, hopper-boys, bolters (sifters) and cleaners, etc. But these were parts of traditional mills. As of about 1850's companies, for example Nordyke & Marmon began in 1851 selling portable burr mills. Mill builders (which were often part of the flour milling machinery company) and millwrights began to just install mills. Mill structures were no longer timber frame buildings, and balloon framing could be done by a local carpenter where the mill builder or millwright simply installed the machinery. Companies like Wolf in Chambersburg, and Fitz in Hanover, Pennsylvania, had milling engineers who could design an entire mill from the water wheel to to installing the flour milling machinery. This is why the Fitz Water Wheel Company could build the Grist Mill at the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1926, because it was part of the process. So in the middle of the 1930's Fitz branched out and began restoring mills beside selling water wheels (vertical and water turbines), burr mills, corn roasters, wire weaving machinery, and traditional wooden water wheels and mill gearing that they had always build from day one.

Millwright learned new trades as technology changed. They made wooden gears, and in time some millwrights learned to make wooden gear casting patterns which foundries used to cast metal gears.

A Mill-Wright Miscellany, or Mills & the Trades Necessary for their Construction, Repair & Operation 200 years ago.

Then as time went on there became a disparity in the trades. A mill could always learn to be a miller by becoming a miller's helper, or a millwright's helper becoming a millwright. What I mean by a "disparity in the trades" as time when on the trade of the miller could be learned in college's schools of milling science. Penn State had a school of milling science where they had an operating flour mill on campus, as well as the University of Kansas at Manhattan, Kansas, and other colleges where the miller could also take classes in grain and baking chemistry. Then as time also passed for the millwright, his place of education became vocational schooling rather than higher learning. A vocational school that taught millwrighting became less specific to flour mills and more industrial millwrighting basic skill knowledge. A vocational school trained millwright could work in a flour mill, a saw mill, an industrial factory simply as a form of maintenance man of industrial machinery. With the field of milling science and millwrighting it was like medical training, they only teach you what is current. They don't teach you what is passed. A dentist is not taught classes in dental history or in milling science there are classes in the various stages of milling history or technical development. Someone who graduated from a college with a milling science degree in the last hundred years or so was not taught how to mill grain with millstones. The German schools today even teach you how grain is milled on millstones, but before you enter your training you have to show a history of working in the field, and pass tests to enter school which is very much still like miller apprenticeship programs of long ago.

Then after the American Civil War, the part that was missing from "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide," became schools of hydraulic engineering. Cornell University had a world famous school of hydraulic engineer. The Fitz Water Wheel Company developed a side-line business of selling models of water wheels to colleges and universities schools of hydraulic engineering. These table top working models of different types of water wheels and turbines could be mistaken for patent models or salesman samples. I have a handwritten notebook from an 1870 class in water wheels taught in America by a famous German hydraulic engineer complete with notes and illustrations for the course. A famous American hydraulic engineer was John Blake Campbell, the son of a Presbyterian minister in Roanoke, who graduated from Cornell, worked for the Fitz Water Wheel Company, and then had the Campbell Water Wheel Company from 1920 to 1960. Mr. Campbell along with Donald C. Wisensale of the Fitz Water Wheel Company became the founding fathers of mill restoration in America.

Question 2: often I have found that a mill was many times deeded in a wife's name and not the owner of the mill. What was the reason for this?

Ted Hazen: My great grandfather born in 1838, William George Hazen was good at this. All of the farms and property that he owned was in his wife's name, so he could not be sued and loose everything he had. Mills basically the same thing. Before the days of product liability insurance, or acts of god that washed out your mill dam that caused damage down stream, the mill was in the wife's name. Mills cause death and destruction from dust explosions to loss of limbs and life. It was easier just to have it already in the wife's name.

Question 3: when petitioned to the county court for erecting a mill - did the petitioner have to do so if he were altering/improving an abandoned mill rather than if he were to build new? Can I use the maxim "Once a good mill seat- always a good mill seat" hold true for a succeeding mill on the same site 200 years later?

Ted Hazen: I keep telling people the answer to this one, is that you will never live long enough to unearth the laws in each state for building mill dams, water rights, etc. Each state is different as to their laws and perhaps where the laws are buried. In Pennsylvania, to maintain the "water rights" to use the water to operate a mill the law says, "you have to show a history of continuous use." In Virginia, to maintain the "water rights" you have to turn over the water wheel once every three years or you loose the right to use the water.

In Massachusetts, back in the 1600's before the United States they passed laws about building mill dams that would impede the movement of fish. This is one that the Federal fish migration law people, the EPA, the states office of dam safety, and fish commission love.

Basically you had to petition the court to alter, improve an old mill or build a new one, basically because of the liability of the dam, and that mills were business. It sounds like a good maxim "Once a good mill seat - always a good mill seat," but but in the passage of time (a hundred years or so) that is not always the case. Streams change their beds, and the flow of a stream change. Some mill seats of the 1600 and 1700's became divided up in the 1800's becoming like patch work quits that became worn in the passage of time, were patched with new patches. Read the following book...............

"Mills on the Tsatsawassa: Techniques for Documenting Early 19th Century Water-Power Industry in Rural New York, A case study illustrating the coordinated use of maps, deeds, and archeological survey to reconstruct the locations of interrelationships of early industrial sites and to reveal previously undocumented elements of local water power technology," by Philip L. Lord, The University of the State of New York, Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns, New York, 1983.

Question 4: were wooden gear teeth made of locust and what other hard woods?

Ted Hazen: Wooden gear teeth and cogs were made from hickory and rock maple, and apple wood. You make them in jigs and after you made a bunch of them, you boiled them in "raw linseed oil" in a big cauldron. This toughens up the surface of the wood and impregnates it with lubricant. There were companies that made just mill cogs and gear teeth. The Fitz Water Wheel Company that was part of their business to supply boxes of different types and sizes of cogs and teeth. It was a sign of the knowledge of a local carpenter if he knew about boiling the mill cogs and teeth before he delivered them to the miller.

Question 5: I have what I believe is a conversion chart from the Penns/Griggs/Parks Mill ledger 1894. The chart is 3 columns- without headings..


My guess is that the 1st Column. is flour/pounds - the 2nd corn meal/ pounds - the 3d -how many bushels required to produce poundage for 1&2. Might this be correct?

I thank you for your consideration of reply.

Doug MacLeod

Ted Hazen: This is one of those answers that I love. Get a group of people together around a table, hold hands and talk to the dead, have a seance. You guess is as good as mine. The mill made white flour, corn meal, and I think that it also made buckwheat flour, and or pancake mix.

Millers had tally boards (where they moved pegs from holes to hole like a game), chalk boards, and just wrote on the fabric of the mill. I look at the numbers which could mean wheat, corn, buckwheat, or flour, corn meal and bushels, and see percentages. Percentages for a measure total amount or given amount of wheat. The first column is the pounds of white flour, the second column is the pounds of middlings, and the third column is the pounds of bran.

Many products of the mills are sifted into three distinct products. Wheat can produce unbleached white flour, wheat cereal or middlings, and bran. Corn can produce corn flour, corn grits, and corn bran. Buckwheat can produce buckwheat flour, buckwheat cereal or middlings, and buckwheat hulls. Oats can produce oat flour, oat meal, and oat bran. Rye can produce light rye flour, pumpernickel flour, and rye bran.

The problem with bushels and poundage is that a bushel of wheat soft and hard weigh different than each other. A bushel of corn also weighs different, along with a bushel of buckwheat, etc. Bushels of grain varies from 50 to 60 pounds. Corn meal was sold bolted (less the corn bran) and unbolted (including the corn bran). According to the date, Graham flour would been ground with nothing removed, and the later 20th century product whole wheat flour has the wheat bran sifted out and removed. Mills measure their output in barrels or hundred weight sacks. A bushel grain measure is a thing that you would never find in a mill, however, they only measure how many bushels a millstone can grind in perhaps 15 minutes. This is one method to know if the millstones are getting dull.

A formula for self-rising flour (soft wheat) is as follows:
182.2 pounds of soft wheat flour.
2.7 pounds of bicarbonate of soda.
3.5 pounds of calcium phosphate.
3.6 pounds of salt.
Total: 192 pounds = one barrel. The formula is based upon the classification of a barrel weight. All of the pancake formulas have more than 3 ingredients. A lot of the pancake formulas are based upon the capacity of the mixer which maybe anywhere from 200 pounds, 250 pounds, 500 pounds, or over a thousand pounds.

Weights per bushel from the Consolidated Grain Milling Catalogs 1927-28 of the most common grain products:

Barley, whole 48 pounds.
Barley, meal 38.2 pounds.
Barley, malt 38 pounds.
Buckwheat, 48.8 to 52 pounds.
Buckwheat, bran 19.2 pounds.
Buckwheat, middlings 28.2 pounds.
Buckwheat, hulls 16.9 pounds.
Buckwheat, flour 51.2 pounds.
Bran, wheat 16.0 to 20 pounds.
Bran, corn 16 pounds.
Bran, rice 25.6 pounds.
Bran, rye 19.2 pounds.
Corn, ear 70 pounds.
Corn, shelled 54.4 to 56 pounds.
Corn, cracked 56 pounds.
Corn, meal 48.0 to 50 pounds.
Corn, bran 16 pounds.
Flour, wheat 70 pounds.
Gluten, meal 54.4 pounds.
Hominy meal 35.2 pounds.
Middlings, coarse wheat 38.4 pounds.
Middlings, standard wheat 25.6 pounds.
Middlings, oats 48 pounds.
Millet, seed 50.9 to 51.2 pounds.
Oats, whole 32 pounds.
Oats, ground 22.4 to 23.8 pounds.
Oat, hulls 10 pounds.
Oat, hulls ground 12.8 to 14 pounds.
Oat, meal 54.4 pounds.
Oat, middlings 58 pounds.
Rice, polished or pearled 38.4 pounds.
Rice, bran 25.6 pounds.
Rye, bran 19.2 to 25.6 pounds.
Rye, middlings 51.0 pounds.
Rye, meal 48 pounds.
Rye, whole 54.4 to 56 pounds.
Soy beans 57.6 pounds.
Speltz 40 pounds.
Wheat, bran 16.0 to 20 pounds.
Wheat, ground 54.4 pounds.
Wheat middlings, coarse 38.4 pounds.
Wheat middlings, standard fine 25.6 pounds.
Wheat, whole 60.0 to 60.8 pounds.
Wheat, screenings 32.0 pounds.

Generally or at least in Oliver Evans day out of every hundred pounds of wheat (on average), you got 72 pounds of white flour, 24 pounds of middlings, and 4 pounds of bran. This was effected by the sharpness of the millstones, if the break rollers need regrooving, the condition of the sifting screens, and the amount of moisture or lack of it in the wheat. Dull millstones and break rollers will tare rather than cut the grain. Then there is what is "loss to the system" spillage, leaks, and what is always trapped in the system. What that was cleaned out, of was often thrown out or ended up as hog food.

I think that these were ledger records to show customers or remember what happened to the wheat after it was mill when it was bolted or sifted. The different percentages of flour, middlings and bran sell for different amounts, and it was a way of the miller knowing how much money he should come up with.

These amounts are really "small." I worked in two mills the same size as the Big Otter or Forbes Mill in Pennsylvania, and these have to be custom or batch amounts for customers. Generally we ground 25 to 50 thousand pounds of wheat a day, 15 to 20 thousand pounds of corn a day, and about the same amount of buckwheat when it was season. The most corn meal that we ever ground in one day was 27 thousand pounds.

Yes! I would be very happy if you gave my name as a potential buyer, restorer, mill consultant, miller, millwright, milling instructor or interpreter. Thank you.

Best wishes,
Ted Hazen

Ted - Thank you for your detailed and timely reply.

I will keep you informed about what is decided about Forbes Mill.


Doug MacLeod

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Copyright 2006 by T. R. Hazen