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Addendum One: Footnotes on Living History Interpretation (part 3)

Interior of a Roller Mill, showing the white costume of the miller.
A Library of Congress collection photo.

Interpretation for Old Mills
Effective Interpretive Programs to make the "same old grind" come alive again,
Theodore R. Hazen


Questions and their answers can lead to new programs. It is easy to make your own list and if you do any interpretation in a mill, you will soon develop a list of most common asked questions and answers. Some questions that might easily develop into separate programs are as follows:

1. How does the miller produce flour?
2. Why were communities developed in areas where grist mills had already been built?
3. Why was the grist mill so crucial to a community?
4. Where was the grist mills located?
5. What jobs in a mill did the miller do?
6. Why was the miller called the jack-of-all-trades?
7. What was the miller's role in the community?
8. What was the source of power and how did it turn the grinding millstones?
9. Where did the millstones come from and how are they made?
10. What is the job of the miller, the miller's helper, millwright and millstone dresser?
11. Did the millwright make everything at a mill?
12. What type of mill was this? A custom mill or a merchant mill, and why?
13. How does wheat become bread?
14. What did the miller package the flour in long ago?
15. What are the dangers of milling?
16. What parts of grain that make up whole wheat flour?
17. Why did early pioneers would travel from far and wide to visit the gristmill for the essential service of having their grain ground?
18. Why is wheat called the staple of life?
19. Is the crushed between a pair of huge, flat, round stones called millstones?
20. Did the millstones of early mills were made at the mill site or were these huge heavy stones brought from other places?
21. Can you explain the operation of the mill in a non-technical manner to those who are not so absorbed the complicated workings of a mill?
22. Why does flour made from the whole berry has a limited shelf life?
23. Why does corn meal make a different kind of bread that wheat bread?
24. Why is buckwheat made mainly into pancakes and not into breads?
25. Is Buckwheat a type of wheat?
26. Why was the "Jolly Miller," jolly?
27. Should the mill machinery make noise or does it make noise because something is wrong?
28. "Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock." Why did the mouse run up the clock to get to the wooden gears?
29. How is flour made today?
30. A friend who makes fresh bread only out of freshly ground flour says after 3 days it should be thrown out or it will be like eating cardboard. Can I store flour for a long time in the freezer or refrigerator?
31. What were mills used for besides milling grain?
32. What other sources of power were used to run mills?
33. Who invented the grist mill?
34. Why aren't there more mills around today?
35. When were wind and water powered mills first developed?

Some examples of "Milling Highlights and Oddities" (only a selection from each issue appear. Another problem is that it does not provide the source material for the information): 1. "American Miller and Processor," July 1949, Vol. No.7, page 21. 1. In place of soap the Boston Dandy of the 1770's frequently used "wash balls" made of powered rice, fine flour, starch powder, white lead and other ingredients. 2. With the bodies of Peruvians buried before 1600 A.D. were dug up bags of finely ground brown flour still flavorful- and heads of finely preserved Indian corn. 3. Wheat growing, milling, bolting, and baking were practiced by New Jersey plantation owners early in the 1700's. These tasks were performed by slaves especially skilled in these trades. 4. Odd Bits: An early American way to make beer was to mash up large lumps of corn bread- which was treated as malt.

2. "American Miller and Processor," April 1949, Vol. 77, No. 4, page 21. 1. According to Thomas Jefferson, it cost less in his time to ship flour to Europe than to transport the wheat which involved paying the shipping cost of bran as well as standing the damage done by weevils.

3. "American Miller and Processor," March 1946, page 30. 1. When a boy, George Washington once placed second in a pie-eating contest by consuming 14 pies in 5 hours! His achievement was bettered by a contestant who ate fifteen pies.

4. "American Miller and Processor," February 1947, page 27. 1. The ancient Gaulish custom of worshiping the oak tree is said to stem from the early practice of using the acorn for making flour during periods of famine. 2. Late in the 1300's an English law permitted only families consuming two bushels of grain weekly to own hand mills. This practice did not help the poor, who were still obliged to have their wheat ground at the manor mills. 3. Odd Bits: Oat meal gruel was one of the standbys prescribed to ailing person by 15th century doctors.

First person interpretation, the act of portraying a person from the past (real or composite). A standard form is one in which the interpreters refer to the past in the present tense; employ a combination of techniques including storytelling, demonstration, question and answer, and discussion; encourage verbal interaction from the audience; and avoid breaking character.

Living history site (or Museum), a setting that replicates parts of a historical environment as a featured exhibit area. Such site can include historic houses, farms, villages, mills, factories, encampments, battlefields, etc. At these sites you would find Live interpretation. This is another term for "living history interpretation" or "costumed interpretation."

This is referred to as an scenario. An Outlined or semi-scripted sequence of dialogue and or events that adds structure to a first person presentation.

Interpreter, one who translates material culture and human or natural phenomenon to the public in a meaningful, provocative, and interesting way. The term is usually applied to those who work in historic sites, parks, natural areas, zoos, etc.

Drawing #1

(7) Drawing #1 is similar to one in the children's book, "The Gristmill," by Bobbie Kalman. It is part of the Historic Communities Series. This drawing is based upon a very similar drawing in a Richard Scary children's book, "How Things Work" (minus the little mouse in the rowboat who is trying to overcome the flow of water down the flume to the water wheel). I found this drawing being used on a mill's web site to present how the mill operated. The actual mill is nothing like the drawing which looks more like it belongs in the world of imagination being operated by little animal creatures.

Drawing #2

Drawing #2 is a colored drawing that is based upon a drawing from one of Edwin Tunis' books. The process of milling was originally called, "mealing," because you were producing "meal." Later it was referred to as "millering," because it was process done by the miller. It was then shortened to simply "milling." The caption for this picture says, "A miller grinds grain into flour. He use a water or wind powered mill that has a wheel & a millstone. The water would move the wheel & the wheel would do the grinding. The townspeople would use the flour for cooking."

Drawing #3

Drawing #3 is an example of a post activity sheet. As part of their unit of study on Colonial Williamsburg, fifth grade Social Studies classes colored various scenes of life in Williamsburg. The caption says: "At the Windmill, the miller grinds grain to make flour." Picture by Lashonna Stafford.

Drawing #4

Drawing #4 is another activity sheet entitled, "The Grist Mill." Information provided with the sheet says, "A grist mill is where wheat and other grains are ground or milled into flour. Bread was important to the pioneers, so a grist mill was one of the first buildings to be built. The following is the text that goes with the grist mill drawing:

The grist mill in this picture was built beside a small waterfall. Some of the water was made to flow along a wooden trough and into the wheel-blades of a large wooden wheel. The water turned the wheel, which also turned a shaft attached to a millstone. A millstone is a heavy stone wheel about one meter in diameter. This wheel turned on top of another millstone that did not move. As grain was poured into a funnel or hopper, it fell along the grooves between the millstones and was ground into flour. It took about an hour to mill five bushels of 'stone ground' flour. Can you find a flail, a rake, and a sickle hidden in the picture?"

An Example of a Post Visit Student Piece of Art Work.

Activity sheets can be used with pre and post educational packages sent out to the schools. Some people at times have raised the issue do these have any educational value? I have always found that the kids love them. I have done programs that were simply called "Rainy Day Projects at Peirce Mill," were I provided long tables with crayons, pencils, tape, scissors, and glue. Then I passed out an assortment of various activity sheets that I made. At times it may have appeared like we were in competition with the Art Barn's (Carriage House) art class just across the parking lot. I had 50 to 75 sheets for various educational levels. These sheets were everything from fill in the blank, mazes, connect the dots, to color and cut out a paper model of mill buildings and other related buildings. There were information sheets on corn, wheat, and buckwheat to how millstones work. There was a demonstration model made out of a pencil (that worked at the millstone spindle), a round piece of mat board (that was the bed millstone) and a round piece of plexiglass that was the runner millstone). There is an an animated drawing that demonstrates this, "Scissors Actions of a Pair of Millstones," on my web page, "The Art of the Millstones, How They Work."

(8) The 1980 edition of the Service's Interpretation Guideline (NPS-6) refined the standards for living history in a manner clearly reflecting the critics' concerns. Excerpts from Chapter 7, pages 9-11:

-interpretive presentations [i.e., demonstrations, living history] are frequently personnel and cost intensive; they are more easily and inappropriately treated as educational or entertainment ends in themselves rather than as vehicles for sparking further public interest in park resources; they have a greater potential to be out of step with principal park themes.

-In parks established to commemorate major historical figures, specific events, or political/military actions and ideas, interpretive presentations that illustrate period lifestyles will usually not be appropriate [e.g., crafts at a battlefield].

-All presentations dealing with history and prehistory must meet criteria for honesty as well as accuracy. Specifically: - Presentations are not described or advertised as portraying "the past" but as limited illustrations of some scattered elements of previous activity, skills or crafts.

- "Facts," examples, and anecdotes are not selected or used out of context to make a particular point or to communicate personal or contemporary social and political beliefs.

- The reactions of historic people to past ideas and events are described in the context of past ideas and perceptions. We do not assume or suggest that historic people reacted to or felt about certain situations the way that we would unless there is strong evidence to support that pattern.

- Costumes, equipment, speech patterns, etc., are specifically described to the public as being the most accurate reproductions we are able to obtain, rather than as "just like they had."

- The individual experiences, events, or ideas being presented are chosen and expressed in such a way as to portray the full contributions or "personalities" of the ethnic groups, cultures, or people whose history is being commemorated.
Every person doing interpretation as a miller should read: "The Cheese and the Worms, The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller," by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by John and Anne Tedeschi, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980, and a number of reprints. This book is a study of the popular culture in the 16th century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. Story of a learned Miller and his disagreements with the Church, for which he was burned at the stake because he read books that he should not have read and developed ideas that he should not have told others about. His basic crime was literacy and thinking for himself. Using the records from the Inquisition trial of a miller the author has recreated the way an ordinary person attempted to respond to the confusing political, religious, and social issues of his time. His basic philosophy of life is summed up in the title of the book, "The Cheese and the Worms." You have a piece of cheese, the worms come along and eat it and that is all there is to life, and nothing more. The back cover gives a description of the book, "Menocchio was a simple family man, a miller, the father of 11 children, and had briefly been the mayor of his village. He was a voracious reader, very curious, and he constructed a radical cosmology and dared to present it to the world. In 1599 he was burned at the stake as a heretic." Millers are generally independent thinkers and hate to be told what to do or how to think. Most individuals (historically) connected with the milling trade were of the Quaker faith in the United States, English Colonies in America and the United Kingdom.

(9) Third person interpretation, an informative, often interactive talks and demonstrations by interpreters who may be dressed in period attire but do not assume character roles.

(10) From a Press Release supplied by Don Miller of the Blackman Group. The Stony Brook Grist Mill will celebrate its 250 years of History by presenting a series of programs from April into October 2001. At the Stony Brook Grist Mill: "Living History" features costumed actors who interact with visitors and transport them back to the colonial era by portraying a miller's wife, miller, "dusty" (miller's apprentice) and other characters in the first person." The living history performances which costumed actors relive a day in the life of a miller in the first person. These are in addition to their regular millers demonstrate the grinding process and conduct tours of the Grist Mill in season, and their "Dusty" Program, an educational field trips. I would have to view this program for myself and video tape it, to further comment upon it.

My experience with these so-called milling experts in such groups of as the Society for Creative Anachronisms, is that they know more about acting and very little about mills. This is my basic problem with first person interpretation, is that many people (actors) in such traveling troops that do such performances began their interest in acting either in Society for Creative Anachronisms, and or at the regional Renascence Festivals. The Society for Creative Anachronisms began as a college social activity. Personally I don't find what these groups do very credible or historically accurate. Their only ability to portray the miller, his wife and the miller's apprentice comes from their understanding and reading of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," the telling of the miller's tale as found in "The Reeve's Tale." This is their extent of their knowledge and comprehension about molinology. I have seen people from the Society for Creative Anachronisms do what sounds like the same program at various locations without the benefit of being presented at an old mill, and they become more historical dramas than anything else.

This is the portion of the history, that the National Park Service (and other groups and individuals that now call themselves "professionals") do not like to discuss in the history of interpretation that "living history" was first introduced as a separate concept in the late 1960's by such groups at the Society for Creative Anachronisms. They combined the exhibition of material culture with reenactment of the historical processes which originally employed or produced those artifacts, structures and landscapes. Before this such sites as such "living history museums" such as Colonial
Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village, just performed employing costumed interpreters who used the standard "third person" presentation in which they talked about "what they did back then" while performing their activities or tasks. The one reason that costumed interpretation, sporadic reenacted social events and craft demonstrations became first person living history programs at Plimoth Plantation, because 1620 is closest to the Renascence in time, and if they could take the back in time to 1620, they could do whatever date is represented.

(11) Role play, a descriptive term for the standard form of "first person interpretation."

(12) Ghost interpretation, a first person character who travels into the present. The interpreter may acknowledge the present.

(13) Rakes Mill Pond Overlook (parking), elevation 2,477, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 162.4. Plaque: "Rakes Mill Pond" The stone facing of the nearby mill dam was built early in the 19th century by one Jarman Rakes, Miller. His operation was notable for a scheme of advertising that would credit a much later day. Rakes we are told allowed his customers the sole privilege of fishing for brook trout in his pond while they waited for their grist.

(14) Character Interpretation, another term for first person interpretation. A term coined by Colonial Williamsburg Interpreters.

(15) Contextualist, a third-person interpreter who provides an introduction and possibly other commentary in conjunction with a first person program. A term coined by Colonial Williamsburg Interpreters. Also called a guided first person program in which third person guides escort visitors to (or between) first person locations.

(16) Mixed interpretive medium, interpretation that combines more than one method of interpretation. For example, a third person guide who acts as a mediator between visitors and first person interpreters, or a first person program that closes with a third person question and answer session.

(17) "For decades, living history, or the art of simulating life of past times and cultures, has been a popular form of interpretive programming at historical farms, houses, villages, and museums. Purporting to 'bring the past alive', this method blends material culture, technology and processes, and human actors or 'interpreters' in an interactive learning environment, one that seeks to unlock the mysteries of the past by allowing visitors to experience what life must have been like in a previous time. Living history practitioners and advocates alike believe that this approach provides richer
teaching opportunities and an ability to affect visitors' understandings of other times and places.

One of the most innovative, though oft-times controversial, forms of living history is first-person interpretation. Defined as a way of recreating 'the daily activities, thoughts, and behavior or real (or composite) historical people' through role-playing, first-person interpretation seeks to humanize the past and to make history more meaningful through spontaneous interpersonal and conversational experiences." by David G. Vanderstel, The National Council on Public History; ALHFAM Bulletin, Fall 1998, volume XXVIII, number 3, page 10.

(17) Charlie could tell ghost stories about mills for hours. I could get him going at times and he would tell them for what seemed hours. Every once and a while he would stop and say, "I have never seen a ghost and I don't believe in ghosts," but yet he could tell these stories for hours. I always wanted to get him going one time, and quietly pull out a tape recorder. It is one of those things you think about doing for a long time, and before you know it the person is suddenly gone. One of the stories that I remember Charlie telling goes something as follows:

Charlie woke up one morning. He got dressed and went down stairs to eat breakfast. He discovered that his father was not sitting at the table as usual. It was not an unusual thing for his father to have gotten up and had at early start at the mill. When Charlie ate his breakfast and the went to the mill. He found his father William there. He was looking frightened in a way that he had never seem him before. Charlie asked his father if he was all right. His father said that he had never went home from the mill yesterday, that he had been there all night. When I went to go home last night, he said, a ghost was sitting on top of the gate preventing me from leaving. Then Charlie realized that his father was sitting there with a rifle across his lap. Charlie said to his father, you know that you can't shoot a ghost. His father answered, I know, I shot through him twice.

The one person that I knew more about mills of the late 1700's and beginning 1800's, of the Oliver Evans system of automated milling was the late John Blake Campbell (1890-1987). Mr. Campbell was much like Will Rogers in saying, "I never met a mill I did not like. In later years every mill he visited he would say that this was the finest example of a (late 18th century or early 19th century) mill that I ever seen.

The wonderful living history program that used to be presented at the Thomas Nelson House in Colonial Yorktown, Virginia, suddenly came to an end when the Park Superintendent overhead the Park Ranger who put together this program that it originated by going and sitting in the house one night and listening to the ghosts. The Park Police would not even go into the house at night alone or in pairs. They basically put together the program along with alcohol drink and what ever, but the people loved the program. The program was presented by a husband and wife team of living history performers who would appear in rooms out of secret passageways each time being a new character of a slightly later time period. They took you from the 1770's through the American Revolution into the mid-1800's, and the American Civil War. The time travel tour was begun in the basement and then you were told to proceed on to another room where you would meet the next character, and so on and so forth. Park visitors where told when the wonderful program ended that it was because of budget cutbacks.

When I last worked for the National Park Service I don't think ghost were approved source material for interpretive programs however, a number of interpreters were presenting programs that involved the telling of ghost stories in a number of parks.

(19) Dayett Mills in Newcastle County, Newark, Delaware, was built in 1822. It bricks were brought from England. During the Battle of Cooch's Bridge September 3, 1777, Cooch's Mill was burned. The mill has a mansard roof that replace the original gable roof. The mill's millstones were replaced by a Wolf Company of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, roller milling system. The mill is powered by a 100 horse power ball turbine with a 35 foot fall that receives water from a mill race a mile and a half long and two mill dams. Not bad for the state of Delaware.

(20) Many times where the late Charlie Howell would travel to do millstone dressing demonstrations and mill lectures, he would take along two poster size drawings done by Robert Fink that appeared in his book, "The Mill At Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills and a Brief History of Milling." by Charles Howell and Allan Keller, Sleepy Hollow Restorations, 1977. These two drawings appeared in the end pages inside of the book. Cutaway Drawing of Millstones in Use. This cutaway shows the grinding action of two millstones with a right hand dress.

Cutaway Drawing of Millstones in Use.

And (a positive image rather than the negative images as found in the book of) Cross Section of Gristmill. This drawing is based upon the reconstructed water mill at Philipsburg Manor, Upper Mills. The following is the text that explains the cross section of a gristmill drawing:

Cross Section of Gristmill
Water to power the mill is conducted from the mill pond to the water wheel by the flume (1). The amount of water fed to the wheel is controlled by the flume gate (2). When the flume gate is raised, water emerges under pressure and strikes the buckets (3) of the water wheel, causing it to revolve. After powering the wheel, water flows away down the tail race (4).

The arms, or spokes, of the water wheel are mortised into the main shaft (5), which transmits the power into the mill building, where the millstones are located on the stone floor (6). Attached to the main shaft are face gear wheels (7), one directly under each pair of stones. The face gear wheels engage into lantern pinions (8), which are mounted on the millstone spindles (9), thus transferring the drive from horizontal to vertical and also increasing the shaft speed as the larger number of gear teeth (10) in the face gear wheel engage the few staves of the lantern pinion.

The millstones spindles pass through the neck bearing (11) in the center of the bed stone. The runner stone (12) is pivoted atop the spindle by a socket bearing called the cockeye in the center of the rynd (13); the pivot point of the spindle is known as the cock head. Just above the neck bearing is fitted the driver (14), which engages the runner stone and causes it to revolve while the bed stone (15) remains stationary. The millstone spindles are supported by foot step bearings fixed into bridging boxes mounted on the bridge tree (16), which can be raised or lowered in a process known as tentering.

Next to the millstones is the stone crane (17), used to lift and invert the runner stone. The windlass barrel (18) for the sack hoist is driven by another lantern pinion from one of the face wheels.

Grain in the grain bins (20) on the grain floor (21) flows by gravity into a spout which delivers it into the hopper (22), supported by the horse (23) atop the stone case or vat (24). The base of the hopper feeds grain into the shoe (25), an inclined tapering wooden trough . The revolving runner stone turns the damsel (26), a square shaft which taps against a block of wood in the shoe, causing it to vibrate and thus feed grain into the eye (27) of the runner stone.

Grain ground between the stones emerges as meal around the periphery of the stones and it tapped in the vat. The runner stone carries meal around to the meal spout (28), where it is discharged into the meal trough (29) on the meal floor (30) where it is put into sacks or barrels for delivery or bolting.
Text from "The Mill At Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills and a Brief History of Milling." by Charles Howell and Allan Keller, Sleepy Hollow Restorations, 1977. Drawings by Robert Fink. Read it over and over again read to learn to speak the same language and use the correct terminology.

(21) From "The Evolution of Living History," by Plimoth Plantation: "The tangible museum environment changed as well, with the aim of a truer mimesis of the past than the previously whitewashed, decorative arts approach. Artificial barriers and didactic aids such as signs or displays were removed wherever possible so as to not impinge upon the period impression. Anachronisms and intrusions of the modern world such as electrical lights or acrylic paint were progressively replaced with appropriate period substitutes. "Dirt was gently allowed to intrude." Costumes more closely approximated the actual clothes of the time, with appropriate fabrics and patterns being carefully replicated. Inaccurate earlier reproductions which cut corners by using modern materials or were obviously of modern manufacture were replaced.

Activities in the historic houses or workplaces replicated the actual chores and farm or craft labor of the period being presented. Livestock was acquired and tended in the appropriate manner, crops were planted and harvested, and gardens, once limited to decorative flowers and herbs, were used to provide fodder for the cookery programs which produced actual meals. The wear and tear of the reproductions became a mark of "authenticity" and the use of original objects was discouraged. The ideal was to step into a functioning exhibit which had a "Masterpiece Theater" level of credibility, where no feature was missing or out of place, and the overall impression was a seamless evocation of the past.

The key elements were the accuracy and completeness of the material settings and the realism of the activities and processes, no longer the highly artificial demonstration of a log "sawn" as long as possible to act as a vehicle for conversations but which never became boards. The last step was to make the people part of the re-creation as well, by involving them in the re-creation as "animated artifacts," rather than as docents providing a detached commentary to the scene. There are three main components of a thorough living history program: 1. A full range of appropriate material culture, from buildings to pot scrubbers, that were present in the original historical situation, each and every article which can be attributed to the specific site and period, not just those which have survived by chance or are easily available. A "non-living" exhibit can do with just a few representative or decorative artifacts, but living history requires a comprehensive compliment of things to work with to make the exhibit look "lived-in" and credible.

2. Representative costumed individuals with the detailed appropriate knowledge of the particular site and period being re-created, to explicate it to visitors, either as third or first person interpreters.

3. Re-enactment of the relevant processes which went on in the community, whether of a household (cookery, sewing, household chores), outbuilding, shop, barn (agricultural work, craft productions, livestock care) or public building (usually more discursive than productive work).
Together these elements make a reasonable mimesis of community life in the past. The visitor learns not only by listening to the interpreted information and by watching the work being done, but through the interaction of all these things in a re-created social context* making the experience analogous to a visit to a foreign country rather than to an ethnological institution where the artifacts have been extracted from the original cultural use and the significance which was attached to them."

(22) This is called first hand (experience) interpretation. A type of third person interpretation that incorporates a personal perspective, but little or no characterization. This is often used by craft, trade, or food ways interpreters, who describe how they themselves experience historical activities.

(23) Sometimes teachers would call to arrange a field trip because they read a book in school. One of the most common books (for grades pre-Kindergarten to 3rd grade) that they might read (even more so than "The Little Red Hen") would be, "Pancakes, Pancakes!," by Eric Carle, author of the classic "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." I made a photo copy from a teacher's book because so many groups were coming after they read this book and it was out-of-print for a period of time.

Synopsis: (Pancakes, Pancakes!, by Eric Carle, Scholastic Inc., New York, reprinted 1990) This is a story of boy named Jack, who wakes up hungry for an enormous pancake for breakfast. But before Jack can enjoy his pancake, he must first get flour from the miller, an egg from the black hen, milk from the spotted cow, and butter churned from fresh cream.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't ever ask the question or raise the issue of where is Jack's father to the teachers or the students. This is a "non-issue" topic for discussion.

The following example, is how the mill would simply fit into someone's else's lesson plans. Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the historical development and current status of economic principles, institutions, and processes needed to be effective citizens, consumers, and workers in our society.


1. Describe the relationship between economic wants and needs.
2. Identify economic resources located within a community.

Final Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding of geographic concepts and processes as needed to examine the role of culture, technology, and the environment in the location and distribution of human activities.


1. Explain the relationship between the physical setting of a community and its ability to satisfy the wants and needs of its people.
2. Describe how transportation and communication systems link communities.

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. How does Jack use what is around him to get his pancake breakfast.
2. Describe how Jack's family used the physical environment to meet their needs.
3. Explain why transportation is important for Jack's pancake breakfast.

Related Terminology: mill, miller, sickle, chaff, threshing, flail, and millstone.


1. Book: Pancakes, Pancakes! (usually they have a copy at the school)

Lesson Development:

1. Explain to the students that they are now going to hear a story (or read a book) about a boy named Jack and what he had to do in order to have a pancake breakfast.

2. Read the story (they usually do this activity in school before their field trip)

Discussion Activities: (You mainly have to only deal with the wheat, its harvesting and taking it to the mill to be ground)

1. Jack because of the crowing rooster, when he woke up and looked out the window. (Jack saw a farm with fields, animals, barn, fence, etc.)

2. Jack needs to get flour for his pancakes. (wheat, donkey, ground or soil, water, stone; sickle, flail, water wheel, mill. Jack cutting and threshing and the miller threshing and grinding.)

3. Jack use the wheat to satisfy the hen's needs? (Jack fed the hen the grain he got from threshing the wheat.)

4. What important items did the cow produce? (milk and cream)

5. Jack's mother placed all the items she needed to make his pancakes on the table. What will Jack's mother need? (mixing bowl, cup, wooden spoon, ladle, frying pan, plate, knife, fork)

Conclusion Closure:

Discuss with students that in order to have flour we go to the mill or grocery store, and barter or buy it. In order to do that, the farmers first have to grow the wheat, and harvest it. Then the farmers use their wagons, or trucks to take the wheat from the farm to a mill or factory where workers turn it into flour. Once the wheat is made into flour it was then placed in packages. At one time this would have been wooden barrels, cloth sacks (they made articles of clothing out of the cloth of the sack) or paper bags. Today the packages of flour are taken to warehouses in trucks. Then the flour is taken from the warehouses to the stores where store clerks place the flour on shelves in stores. Today people go to the store and buy the flour, but long ago people had to make a journey to a mill go get their wheat ground into flour.

(24) The following information is "as good as it gets" for grinding material to create first person interpretation in an old mill. The excerpts from the following two diaries use the original author's spelling it has not been changed. 1. In an 1873 Water-Powered Mill Operator's Diary (Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York). The diaries were written to refresh the memories of the authors years later, not for sharing with strangers over a century in the future. So they just begin, without any setting of the scene. They have to be puzzled out, like the best mysteries written. As you progress through it, different parts of the puzzle fall into place. This recounting of life as it was lived long ago can also jar us out of our modern complacency, as we see that the good old days really weren't always so good.

This Diary: The author was Wallace May of Bainbridge, Chenango Co., N.Y. The diary is written mostly in pencil in a hand that is relatively easily read, though in a couple of places the graphite is badly smudged. The diary has flexible covers that are in poor condition. Insects have chewed through the hinge on the flap two-thirds of the way across, and nearly 2" up the spine. The binding is delicate and a few pages are nearly loose or loose. The diary is the kind that has a flap across the fore-edge, buckling under a loop on the cover. It measures 3.75 x 6" and has black flexible covers. The diary mostly involves operation of the mill, production, cash flow, and mechanical problems. One concern is keeping ice out of the trough so the mill could run. Mention of items of a personal nature are in the minority. Entries average about a paragraph per day.

Here are some excerpts with spelling as it appears:
Jan. 3:
It has thawed so to give me watter to grinde.
Jan.25: Had my foot measured for a pair of fine boots. Price of $9. Henry Barbers make to be done in 3 weeks.
Jan. 30: The mercury stood this morning 42 below zero at a Penn Yan paper.
Feb. 10: Taken up the wheat stone to be dressed.
Feb. 27: Spent 2.75 for shews for Edna.
March 7: Sleighing is getting thin on the river.
March 11: Run (mill) all night.
April 16: Leavy Vincent rec a wound with an ax from Myron Vincent who now is crazy.
April 22: Worked to the mill been broke down the upright shaft has settled and a pease of the segment droped off the watter wheal. The diary entries end about
May 18: the rest of the book being filled with ledger-style entries for the mill and its customers.

2. 1879 Water-Powered Mill Operator's Diary (Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York)

The Diary: The author is Wallace May, an operator of a water-powered grist mill we know from an earlier diary was located in Bainbridge, Chenango Co., N.Y. Interestingly enough, entries lead us to conclude that his father and grandfather operated mills of their own elsewhere, including perhaps in Penn Yan. The front part of this little book is comprised of notes and ledger-style entries for the feed mill noting customers' names and their transactions. The diary starts on Feb. 12 and mostly details the operation of the mill, business deals, court actions, etc., with personal details being in the minority. We read of Wallace grinding feed, buckwheat, doing custom grinding, maintaining the mill, etc. A couple of other entries have to do with his trying to find a grist of wheat he believes to have been stolen from the mill. The diary is written mostly in ink in a hand that is relatively easily read. The diary was probably originally covered with paper on board. That paper is missing with just the bare cardboard-type boards remaining. The exterior is in poor to fair condition, while the interior is in good condition. It measures 3.5 x 5.75".

Some excerpts:
Feb. 14: Ice fills my trough so I cannot run (the mill) today but a very little.
March 5: Last night could not shut the gate, stick got in, lost about 1/3rd of a pond of water.
April 16: A hole broke thru the little dam last night. No serious damage done yet.
May 13: Written letter to Pa about what Grandpa is going to do with Ferguson in regard to taking the mill in his possession. (Apparently the mill's ownership passes to Ferguson here, perhaps as a result of unpaid loans and or court action that is briefly mented but not clearly explained in the dairy).
June 2: Today I commenced to work by the year for L.N. Ferguson. I am to have my board and horse kept to hay or grass and $100 for the year.
July 9: My thumb was pulled off her in the mill Feb. 29, 1876, at noon.
Aug. 7: Charles and LNF sent their model water wheel away today to parties that intend selling territory for them. Charles Marshall has been to Afton today to get his wheel marked with date of patent.
Oct. 16: Run the mill for two hours. Drawed the pond dry and found my hammer I lost in it about a year ago.
Oct. 22: Husked corn until after midnight.
Nov. 10. Got enough water to run again.
Nov. 13: Agreement between L.N. Ferguson and Ely Bennett today for putting in shingle mill in the basement of the grist mill. Bennett furnishes the (saw)mill and saws the shingles and furnishes oil and files. Ferguson furnishes power countershaft, material for pullys, main belt to countershaft to edge and bunch shingles.
Nov. 15: My cat got caught in the gearing of the mill and lost one foreleg.
The diary ends of November 15, and is followed by entries listing customers, computations and other ledger-style entries. Interspersed in the diary are accounts of dates and meals eaten by Wallace and his horse, a list of days worked for Ferguson, etc.

An example of the type of information presented in this program is as follows: The name "Miller," is the third most common name in the United States and many other countries. One who operates or tends a mill. The name Miller is one of the oldest surnames in the world. John the Mulner later became John Mulner (or Miller), and John the blacksmith would later become John Smith.

A lot of people have asked me over the years, is my last name miller? Some times it feels like it should be or perhaps secretly is. I guess I have know more millers that I have personally known people with the name miller, if that tells you anything.

Miller Origin: Miller is among the oldest of all Surnames, falling into the occupational category (one who grinds grain into flour). The English version of the name comes from the Middle English word Mille. The Miller held a very important place within his community. The maxim, keeping your nose to the grindstone, is derived from the fact that, for the miller, it was a matter of life and death. He had to keep his face close to the moving grindstones to smell for the acrid odor of granite-to-granite which could produce sparks that could ignite the fine flour dust, causing an explosion.

It was also true, that a miller looking for employment, had to show his prospective employer, his mettle. Millstones were sharpened by striking them with huge hammers. Bits of metal would often chip off the hammer and embed themselves into the miller's hands and arms. The amount of metal visible in the miller's hands and arms was an indication of his experience.

There are numerous variations of the Miller Surname. The most common are listed here as: 1. Muller: This is a cognate form of the English surname Miller, the occupational name of a man who operated a mill, one of the earliest primary occupations. The flat bottomed pedestal long used by pharmacist to grind drugs is also called a muller.

2. Millar: This is the Scottish variation of the name.

3. Milner: This is an English variation of the name predominantly found in Yorkshire. Meller is another English variation.

French versions include: Lemeunier, Lemonnier, Maunier, Meunie, Meunier, Meusnier, Millinaire, Millour, Moliner, Moulinier, Monnier, Mounier, Mounie, Mugnier and Munier.

Italian: Molinaro, Molinari, Monari, Monaro, Munari, Mugnaro and Mugnai

Spanish: Molinero

Catalan: Moliner, Munne

Portugal: Moliero

Rumania: Morariu

German: Mueller, Müllner, Müller, Milner, Muller, Molner, Miller, Molitor

Low German: Möller, Moller

Dutch or Flemish: De Meulder, Mulder, DeMolder, Moller, Moolenaar

Czech: Mlynar

Polish: Mlynarski, Mlynski

Swedish: Möller

Hungarian: Molnar

Jewish Askenazik: Meuller, Muller, Miler, Miller
A good source of mountain folklore about mills is found in "Grist Mills of Early America and Today," by , Elmer L. Smith, An Applied Arts Publication, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 32 pages, various publication dates, "together with recipes using their products and illustrations of other early grist mills." The book is a cultural resource and not a technical book on mills and milling.

(26) The following example was chosen because of my interest in the device and that there is very limited published material on the subject. If you take a copy of my article, "The Hopper-boy of Oliver Evans," that appeared in the Summer issue 1995 of Old Mill News, and is found on a page of this web site. One might say, "How could I give an interpretive program about the hopper-boy and present different information?" The original article can be printed, photo copied, and become a visitor hand-out. The following is an example of an interpretive program one could present about hopper-boys. The narrative draft begins after the basic program introductions. Please also read the above mentioned article as well.

The hopper-boy replace a "boy" whose job it once was to carry or transport the ground meal from the bin in the basement to the attic or upper level of the mill. There because of the methods they were using in milling grain at the time the freshly ground meal was hot and damp. It could not be sifted or bolted through screens because it would clog the opening. So it was dumped onto the floor and raked back and forth until it cooled. The millstones (furrows) were always kept sharp and run very fast with a lot of heat and speed upon the grain. This produced the hot damp meal. The millers wanted to grind the grain only once (regrinding created problem) and they wanted to produce as much good white flour as they could in one grinding. The idea was to keep down the amount of middlings because this was basically cast off stuff or termed "offals." The bran and was often tossed into the creek, or would become ships stuff or red dog. It was made into biscuits for sailers that would go buggy and turn rancid very quickly. The problem the ground meal was left there to age (improve in baking qualities and to give off gasses from the chemical changes that occurred in the milling process) for several days. They would rake it back and forth thus cooling it by aeration. There the flour could be lost to cracks in the floor, bugs find it, be born in it, rodents get into it, and in general people and cats walk through it with no thoughts of cleanliness.

Legend has it that the name "hopper-boy" came from the words the miller would cry out to the young boy to get to work and do its job, "hop to it." So he became known as the hopper-boy. It was perhaps it duties also to take sacks of bolted meal and carry them back to the attic where they would be dumped into bins or onto the floor where the flour would lie until it matured and aged. These jobs were dusty and dirty but not as dangerous as walking into room size bins of grain to rake or shovel the grain onto the discharge opening in the floor. Young children often were found later when they were missed who had drowned in a room full of grain.

So Oliver Evans developed his hopper-boy named after the boy whose job it was. Like the sack-boy whose job it was to replace sacks on the ends of chutes. Sacks were hung on the ends of wooden chutes by small nails heads or bent hooks. These hooks are called sack boys. In Germany, and Austria, they would use actual leather belts to fashion the sacks on the chute temporarily.

The hopper-boy consists of a rotating vertical shaft. Around the vertical shaft is a free floating rake. The vertical shaft is turned by the gears above the hopper-boy. The rake around the vertical shaft is turned by an arm that runs through the vertical shaft. The ends of the rake are attached to the arms by a single cord that goes from one end of the rake up to a hole in the end of the arm and loosely across the arm through the hole on the other end and back down to the opposite end of the rake. The reason that the rake is free floating and it is not attached to the vertical shaft is because if the hopper-boy becomes over charged with flour, it will float to the surfaces and continue to turn until it works through the extra amount of flour. The reason the rake can float up and down is because of a counter weight attached by a cord around the collar ring in the center of the rake and up over a pulley placed inside of the vertical shaft of the hopper-boy. The counter weight is also used to lift the rake up and hold it in position while the area in which the rake revolved is cleaned.

The revolving rake with paddles on its underside are turned to move the material that is introduced at the circumference rather than towards the center like one might think because centrifugal force tends to carry things outward and not inward. (The rake can be raised and show the visitors the special mortise that holds the paddles into the bottom side of the rake.) Some hopper-boy rakes may have separate blades attached to the side of the rake at the center to keep the material form getting into the bearing underneath the vertical post. Another variation some of them have is an adjustable flap along the outside ends of the rake that move the material from the wall of the rake inward where the paddles can begin turning it over and over again towards the center. A good example of this can be found on the hopper-boy at the Colvin Run Mill. The Colvin Run Mill's hopper-boy is a wonderful work of wood craftsmanship and incorporates the basic design ideas of hopper-boys from Oliver Evans' book, but it is an over stylized design of modern woodworking. It has two design flaws that would not be found in traditional or original hopper-boys. One being that the vertical post is too short and the gears are too close to the flour. Second the hopper-boy is located too much under the eaves of the attic roof and needs to be located out in the center of the room where it would be more open to the interaction of the air.

The ground meal is carried up the attic where the hopper-boy would be located by an elevator. The ground meal would be introduced at the outside circumference. It was never shown in any of Oliver Evans drawings or mentioned in his description but people quickly began to place the hopper-boy rake in a low walled tub about 2 feet tall. Another reason perhaps for placing the hopper-boy is a tub is that it can act as a temporarily storage area for ground flour. The gate in the chute that separates the underside of the hopper-boy in the attic and the bolter on the flour below can be closed and the rake raised out of the tub. Then the tub could be allowed to fill with ground flour. Another reason for adding the tub, and most important, it would help reduce the mess of the flour in the attic and keep it all contained in one area. As the rake revolved the the tub it turned over the flour constantly and cooled it in the same manner as the boy who once raked it back and forth. Each time the rake of the hopper-boy revolved it turned it over just like a raking it back and forth.The cool flour goes down a chute just off set of the center where it would find its way to a bolter. The hopper-boy rake revolves relatively slow as compared to other machines or devices found in a mill, generally on average 10 to 15 revolutions per minute. Some mills would have several (two) hopper-boys or one large one.

The following several paragraphs (pages 25-26) is by someone who came into the milling business after the 1880's, and worked in several millstone mills. His description of the hopper-boy device is correct but how he says it operated does not go along with how it was operated in the automated milling system of Oliver Evans, and how it is discussed in "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide." He was an author (Professor Benjamin W. Dedrick) of numerous articles in mill journal publications, a classical milling text book ("Practical Milling," National Miller, Chicago, Illinois, 1924), and he was the head of a milling science department at a major American University (Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania). I know he worked in several water powered mills before becoming head of a milling department, that would not have hopper-boys as part of their flour making machinery at that point in time. He was a mill consultant on the 1939 Fitz Water Wheel Companies restoration of the Lee Mill (circa 1740's) at Stratford Hall, Virginia. I have had or have known of this book for 30 years, and his chapter on millstones, how they operate and how they are dressed is standard reference in the restoration of old mills. I am a bit amazed then in reading the following section and how he totally misunderstood how the hopper-boy was used. He has described the operation of the hopper-boy as if it were used in the milling system that was in common usage before Oliver Evans changed the way mills operated. "The Hopper-Boy or Cooler- This device was usually enclosed in a circular or octagonal room, in order to prevent the dust from spreading over the mill and thus causing a loss. In the plan of the Oliver Evans mill the hopper-boy is open and shown where the spout is led from the elevator that discharges the chop (a term for the ground material before it has been sifted) from the stones at the end of the rake.

The chop from the stone would be allowed to accumulate in the cooler fro three or more hours. Then the miller would stop grinding by cutting off the feed and raising the stones higher or disconnecting them when occasion required. After this the bolts were started, if out of gear, or the shoe let in contact with the knocker, and bolting commenced and continued until the hopper-boy was about empty.

As the chop would accumulate in the cooler, the rake or gather would be raised on top of the chop, the weights attached to it and passing over pulleys on an arm or beam above, counter balancing the weight of the rake. The teeth or flights of the rake were disposed tangentially and were set a certain distance apart from the outer end of the rake to a point near the center at the foot of the shaft. In turning, this rake swept around and gathered the chop at its outer end, the travel of the meal or chop describing a scroll or ever decreasing circle and finally reaching the hole near the center, where it was fed into the bolts."
He (B. W. Dedrick) goes on to say later that the hopper-boy revolves at 55 revolutions per minute. This speed is just too fast for the amount of power needed to power the device. The revolutions of the shafting in the attic portion of the mill is much slower that on the lower floors, and the way the device operates. This is the reason the elevators are operated with leather belting in the attic to get them operating at a faster speed that what the drive shafts are turning. He also goes on to say that the bolting reels are 30 to 32 inches in diameter, and 12 to 20 feet long (Oliver Evans era bolters) would turn 25 to 30 revolutions per minute. The information about the bolter is correct. My experience in operating an Oliver Evans mill is that the hopper-boy turns half the speed of the bolters and the chop would be worked completely through there in several minutes.

In the late 1840's- early 1850's the methods or process of milling changed. A new process that was called "new process" milling began to take over and replace the old system of flat milling. The idea was that you no longer to grind and sift the flour one time. Then also to avoid producing any more middlings than possible, and to do this the millstones were always kept sharp. Now they were ran slower and a bit father a part. The idea was to then to produce as much middlings as possible because this was now what the main bulk of the white flour was produced from. They began to use smaller middling millstones with different feed devices that could feed the ground stuff into the millstones. What was happening was that new types of wheat became introduced. Originally we were growing and milling soft or English wheat along the eastern seaboard. Russian hard wheats were introduced to the plains of the Midwest.

I have found portions of the hopper-boy that were removed from the mills operating machinery found in mills from Pennsylvania, to Minnesota. The hopper-boys are usually cut into a number of parts either the rake, the tub or separate vertical shaft. I have found these at Union Mills, Westminster, Maryland; the Burwell-Morgan Mill, Millwood, Virginia; the Pickwick Mill, Winona, Minnesota; the Newlin Mill, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, and a number of other Pennsylvania mills (in Berks County). The Pickwick Mill that was constructed in 1858, had a 14 foot diameter hopper-boy rake. You often only find the rake either whole or cut into several pieces, or the tub cut up into several pieces and nailed onto the walls, etc. At the Watson's Mill, Manotick, Ontario, Canada, they have a hopper-boy tub (that is identical to the one at Peirce Mill), and they are interpreting it as being a mill's storage bin or garner.

They tried to move the hopper-boy more under the eaves of the attic to make more room for new milling machinery but that defeated its aeration because it needs to be out in the open to work properly. Some tried to put it in a round wall that went up and enclosed the rake and lead arm under the turning gears. This to keep grease from falling into the hopper-boy tub along with other junk that would find its way into the flour but they discovered it defeated its operation. Soon they discovered with the changes in the milling process and the fact that the elevator was carrying small amounts of ground meal in little cups to the attic from the basement it was sufficient enough to cool the ground meal.

I have used a hopper-boy in an Oliver Evans mill and it works with no problems and does everything that Oliver Evans developed it for. (The hopper boy can be demonstrated by pouring a quantity of flour into the tub and turning it around my had to show the visitors the action of the revolving rake. This way the tub can then be easily vacuumed clean.) So it is not that the hopper-boy fell out of favor or became obsolete, it was because the milling process changed and it was no longer needed. Many people I have met who own 200 year old mills seem to want to apologize for not having a hopper-boy like it was something they just misplaced over the years and don't seem to know why their mill is an odd ball for not having one. Oliver Evans system of automated milling consisted of 5 machines or devices as he called them. The elevator, the conveyor (or auger), the hopper-boy, the drill and the descender. The drill and descender were not meant to be used in all mill applications. The hopper-boy was the one device that Oliver Evans was the most proudest of and which used the most original principals of design. It rotates in a circle but rather than moving things outward it moves things inward. Today similar devices are used to cool roasted coffee beans.

Oliver Evans invented a system of automated flour milling. The idea was you introduced a raw product (grain) and at the same time the finished product was coming out (flour, middlings (cereal) and bran). His automated system consisted of 5 machines or as he referred to them as "devices," the elevator, the conveyor (auger), the hopper-boy, the drill, and the descender. You connect them together on various floors with a system of chutes and bins and one or two millers could replace 6 - 8 -10 - or 12 men and boys working in a mill. The grain and flour was always contained within the machinery and not left open to the air, stored on floors or open bins where it could be easily contaminated by insects, rodents and other filth. They could produce 5 to 7 times the amount of finished flour that was cleaner and of much better quality using a lot less labor in a time when there was a labor shortage in America. It was the first automation of any industry. This was the first development in the milling industry since water wheels were developed to use the power of tides 1,200 years ago. Water mills were developed thousand years ago and wind mills were first constructed 3 thousand years ago by the Persians.

In a letter Thomas Jefferson (The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826) wrote to Isaac McPherson, from Monticello, dated August 13, 1813. The subject matter is "No Patents on Ideas." Thomas Jefferson's objections to Oliver Evans inventions was that he believed that he was patenting ideas rather than original inventions, because most of Oliver Evans devices (with the exception of the hopper-boy) were based upon known scientific and mathematical principals. He felt that Evans did not exclusive right to invention because the applications of basic machine devices such as the continuous chain drive and the Archimedes' screw had been used historically in other applications. Jefferson felt that Oliver Evans was simply giving new names to old inventions. This has been a subject of great speculation for several hundred years if Oliver Evans had ever seen any applications of these principals in books or were they purely his own thinking. My feeling is that part of the tone of Jefferson's letter reflects the English ideal that only people of a certain class had only had the rights of patent protection under the law. Regardless of Thomas Jefferson's personal feelings, Oliver Evans had developed devices with original applications to an industrial process that was not known at the time. Even the Ellicott's who operated the Ellicott Mills on the Patapsco River in Maryland, upon hearing that Oliver Evans developed a device called an "elevator" for lifting grain and flour vertically in a mill raced to develop their own version of such a machine so Evans would not have exclusive rights to a device called a "mill elevator."

Thomas Jefferson says, "The hopper-boy is an useful machine, and so far as I know, original........ It happened that I had myself a mill built in the interval between Mr. Evans' first and second patents. I was living in Washington, and left the construction to the mill-wright. I did not even know he had erected elevators, conveyers and hopper-boys, until I learnt it by an application from Mr. Evans' agent for the patent price. Although I had no idea he had a right to it by law, (for no judicial decision had then been given,) yet I did not hesitate to remit to Mr. Evans the old and moderate patent price, which was what he then asked, from a wish to encourage even the useful revival of ancient inventions. But I then expressed my opinion of the law in a letter, either to Mr. Evans or to his agent."

I just wanted you to get the story straight. Oliver Evans developed a number of machines but his big contribution was the system of automation. Before this everything was a series of steps or stages and you had to complete one step before you went on to the next. Before Oliver Evans not all mills had the ability to clean grain or even sift or bolt flour. A lot of times flour had to be taken to the baker were he would sift it or it was done in a specially built boulting (bolting-sifting) mill. The French believed that the process of sifting flour was such an elaborate process that is could not take place in the same building that the flour was milled. So separate mills were built to just sift the ground flour, and of course the boulting mill would collect a separate toll (from the miller's toll) for sifting the flour. In some old engravings that show the operation of French boulting mills the bolters are powered by had cranks and covered with cloth to keep down the dust. So you never see the actual bolting devices but you come to realize that the process of bolting employed just as many labor intensive workers as the milling process. Before Oliver Evans millers did not give it a second thought to walk across an open bin full of grain, flour or to jump inside a barrel full of flour to compress it so they could get the allowed amount in a barrel as required by law with road mud caked to their boots. Dirt and filth was a common fact of life. They felt they could not get away from it so they had to live with it.

(27) Some examples of Miller's Tales are: The miller often had high social status in his local community because he controlled one of its most important services that of producing a food stuff. The miller regularly met most everyone in the local area. The miller's importance often becomes illustrated in local life through some of the many sayings, proverbs and idioms which have their roots in the miller's trade: 1. First example is: To have a millstone around one's neck. This is a graphic reference to the heaviest, and most intractable object that anyone in a village would ever encounter.

2. Second example: Is to be put, or to go through the mill. This means to be exposed to hardship or rough treatment that occurs in a mechanical process.

3. Third example: The word grist, "a quantity of grain to be ground" (it is derived from an Old English word from which says to get "'grind").

4. Fourth example: Is the run of the mill, this meaning "undistinguished," "ordinary," or "average." It means expose grain to the process of milling. The run of the mill means that "run" or amount ground in a set period, like someone's batch of grain or a daily output. What was the mill run? One sack of unground or ground grain can look like any other in the output of the grinding process. But the skilled miller grounds in batches whatever came to him, and gave the resulting flour and meal back to his customer. The miller could sometimes improve the quality of the grist by adding moisture or allowing it age and improve in quality. Perhaps run of the mill is used in the textile industry for a run of cloth.

5. The old proverb: All grist for the mill, meaning 'everything can be made useful. It also can be a source of profit.

6. Another old proverb: Keeping your nose to the grindstone. The most important possessions of the miller were his pairs of millstones. Millstones were incredibly expensive. Millstones had to be made of just the right kind of stone which was of the correct hardness. It could not be too soft or the grit might be reduced into the flour and meal. It could not be too hard or else the millstone dresser or the miller could not dress the millstones. Millstone material was not usually to be found in the local neighborhood. The cost of transporting millstones because they are weighty and unwieldy objects was the second largest part of the expense of setting up a mill next to building and setting up the water system for the mill. The millstones that came from France would last a millers life time and were three times as expensive as domestic millstone, but were superior over all others in the making of white flour.

6a. The original form of the expression was to hold one's nose to the grindstone, if you work in the trade of milling you would know that it does not mean to keep your nose to the grindstone. It means by keeping your noise to the grindstone that your ear is in the direction of the millstones and that is how you operating the mill not by keeping your nose to the grindstone but your ear towards it. It quite clearly refers to the to the miller's trade, and not to the smith's trade of sharpening tools. All the standard reference works say that the type of grindstone referred to in the proverb. The trouble with using the smith's one for putting an edge on a metal tool in this explanation, is that it sounds plausible it doesn't fit the evidence. If the smith keep his nose to the grindstone he would get his face and eyes full of sparks. A good smith would know not to keep his face or his fingers too close to the grindstone.

7. A variation to the proverb is: Keep your noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigured their faces. The miller runs the mill by using all of his senses such as the miller's touch. The grain does not know the face of the miller that ground the grain by by the touch you know whose hand ground the grain. A good experienced miller can produce a superior product from otherwise ordinary grain.

8. A regional variation to this proverb is found in Michigan: Keep your noses to the grindstone, is taken to mean that only a good miller would have one eye. A good miller in dressing his millstones would poke out one of his own eyes with his mill pick by keeping his nose to the grindstone. This is how you can tell a good miller from a bad one that he has only one eye.

8a. The miller ground whatever was brought to him, and charged toll for the grinding services. All grain arriving at the mill represented income for him, regardless of its quality. It was up to the miller to chose from what portion he wanted to collect his toll. The poor grades he would use to feed his animals and the better grades he might sell for money.

8b. The lower stone was fixed and the upper stone was turned by the machinery (driven by a water wheel or the wind wheel). The stones had to be set exactly the right distance apart. If the gap was too big the grain didn't get grind properly, and if the gap was too small the grain overheated and began to burn. A good miller knows that burnt flour is not good for anything.

8c. Adjusting the gap between the millstones was one of many crucial parts of the skill of milling. The miller also had to know how to just the feed and the speed of the water for the desired amount and quality of the flour that he wanted to grind. A good miller knows not to accidentally allowing the millstones to touch. This could be disastrous for the mill and all those in the mill including the miller and his apprentices. The touching of the millstones would within a very short time wear them out. The milling industry did not learn until later that the touching of millstones would send a shower of sparks that could ignite the flour dust within the mill. This was also complicated by the need to keep the stones completely enclosed, so as to minimize flying dust into the air, and to keep the flour free from dirt. This meant that the millstones position could not be judged by eye. You had to use your nose to catch the burning smell of the stones if they were too close. The best tool the miller had was his nose. The would immediately be able to detect the slightest trace of burning smell and adjust the gap or the feed rate of the grain before any harm was done. The miller also knew if the stones were touching that they would in need of balancing and leveling. For the miller to do his job effectively this meant the miller had to stay constantly close to the stones, hence the saying, keep his nose to the grindstone.

9. The term grist mill became in common usage in the United States. A grist mill is also known as a custom mill that does custom or batch grinding for farmers or individuals. In Great Britain it is known as a water mill. In England the generic word for "grain" is corn. So there a corn mill grinds wheat, rye, oats and barley, any thing but what they refer to as maze or what we call corn. This is described as a mill open to all comers. The farmers brought their batches of grain, grists, "grits" to be ground. The small mills for grinding farmers own grain, all over the country side are always called grist mills, while commercial mills are known as merchant mills.

10. When I went to work at Peirce Mill the park rangers had been interpreting the mill as a custom mill. I said it does not meet the criteria of a "custom" mill. It may have operated as a custom mill in the last 17 years of its operation but it did that as a means of survival. The artifacts found in a custom mill can be very different that those found in a merchant mill. An example is that a custom mill would have a toll dish or measure, and it would not have a proof and paint staffs because they traditionally do not dish the millstones.

A Custom Mill: The man who builds the mill usually operates the mill and makes repairs to it himself. The mill owner's house is also the miller's house. The miller does not have a costume or clothing separate from his normal clothing. The clothes he wears to work the farm or his other trade is also the same that he wears working in the mill without changing them in between. The mill operates seasonally usually only at harvest time. The miller-mill owner has another trade or several of them that he practices other times of the year. The miller also usually dresses his own millstones. Usually the miller's apprentices or helpers are his children. What the miller knows about his trade he learned form others and has little time to read about his trade from books or trade journals. The miller may or may not keep a record of his business operation and customers. Often the miller uses the fabric of the mill to record his tally or customers. A custom mill usually has only one or two pair of millstones, usually never more than two. The mill if they have two pairs of millstones has one for corn and one for wheat. Usually these millstones are domestic and not imported French millstones. The mill usually does not have complicated machinery. Often it does not have the machinery to clean before it is ground or sift the grain after it is ground. The corn and wheat leave the mill most of the time unbolted. The farmer brings the grain to the mill in a sack and once it is ground the miller places it back into other same sack. The mill is operated on a barter system of the miller collecting a toll for payment of grinding grain. The mill does batch grinding for farmers and local individuals on a first come, first serve basis. The mill does not clean up in between each batch of grinding grain. Sometimes the mill only grinds corn, but may also grind animal feeds. In lowlands and tidal areas they produce grits and in the mountain area they produce buckwheat or pancake flour. The Piedmont they may produce both, or one or the other. Often it only cleans and dresses the millstones when it is seasonally closed.The mill grains grain relatively slowly and has a small output. Custom mills are usually small and are not permanent buildings made out of stone or brick. The miller may have a horse and wagon but depends upon his customers for transportation of the raw grain and final product. The mills are build in rural and isolated areas.

A Merchant Mill: The man who builds the mill for the owner is a millwright. The owner is not usually the same person who constructed mill. The mill owner employs millers to operate the mill and at times housing is provided for in a "miller's house." The mill operates years round, it is larger and has more complicated machinery. The mill has a complicated system of storing grain, cleaning it and sifting it once if is ground. The mill usually has three or more pairs of millstones. The mill has a hires or employees millstone dressers who job it is dress millstones. Usually every week one of the pairs of millstones need to be dressed, so usually once a month every pair of millstones is dressed. If the mill has apprentices or helpers they often live with the miller in the miller's house as if they were his own children. The mill employs specialized labor force, millers, millwrights, millstone dressers, cleaners and oilers, warehouse and packers. The miller wears a costume (which is often white) and clothing separate than his street clothes. Usually in the late 19th century the miller would go to school to learn his trade and read milling books and trade journals, rather than solely learning his trade though apprenticeship. The mill keeps complete records of grain purchased, grains ground, products made, waste and lost, and other business records. Some times in larger merchant mills the miller's office is in a separate building and employs secretaries and office personal. The mill uses imported French millstones for the production of white flour. The mill only grinds white flour for profit and export. The mill operates on a system of profit or loss. The mill buys grain from farmers and grain dealers. The mill packages its products in commercially manufactured barrels and sacks often with its own logo or brand name on it. The mill operates on or close to a 24 hour a day, 6 day a week basis. The mill has a large daily output and is measured in how many barrels or sacks it can produce in a 24 hour period. The mill building are larger often built of stone or brick often with separate additional grain storage units. The mill often has separate warehouse and granary buildings. The mill has its own system of transportation (wagons, dock, canal, trucks, or rail siding) for bringing raw grain to the mill and delivery of the final product to the market. The mills are build close to the grain supply areas and export markets.

Plantation or Estate Mill: This type of mill usually is a mixture of both a custom mill and a merchant mill. They are operated as a custom or feudal milling operation for those living on or working on the plantation or estate. These mills collect a toll for the grinding of grain for those living on the plantation and like the feudal system the owner receives a portion of that income. They also operate a merchant trade flour milling business and the barrels may be produced by individuals living on the estate or plantation. If they use cloth flour sacks they are woven also by people living on the estate or plantation. These mills also usually does a merchant milling operation for the export of white wheat flour. These mills grind grain grown on the estate or plantations and from others neighboring estates that may not have a milling facility. Since they are operated on the old feudal system of milling the mill owner is not the builder and he employs a miller or millers to operate the mill. Housing, livestock and a food allowance is often provided. The mills usually have two pairs of millstones. A domestic pair of millstones for grinding grain for those individuals living and working on the estate or plantation. Another pair of millstones is usually a French millstones used for grinding wheat and producing white flour, and only flour making machinery. These mills were often build in the tidewater areas or close to transportation. In size and character they more closely resemble feudal mills of Europe but may be larger buildings depending how important the exporting of flour is to the owner occupation.

Combination Mill: This type of mill usually is a mixture of both a custom mill and a merchant mill. This type of mill often began its operation as a traditional custom mill, but for various reason has taken on also the merchant milling operation. One reason is that it may be trying to compete with the modern white flour industry in Minneapolis. Another reason is that is may be just outside of large centers of urban population, and merchant milling offers a regular source of income for the mill owner and the miller. This type of mill often may have a domestic pair of millstones and a pair of French Millstones, or it may have added the modern system of roller milling to the mill so it can manufacture Minneapolis style white flour. Often the mill owner will employ a miller of the operation of the mill may be a sole function of one of the mill owners children while other children operate other parts of the owners business ventures.
A good source of more information see: A History of Corn Milling, by Richard Bennett and John Elton, 4 volumes published separately 1898-1900, reprint Burt Franklin, New York, 1964, Research and Source Works Series #74, reprinted in 4 volumes in the United Kingdom, by Simpkin Marshall, 1989.

(28) With some mills people will go home and remember for years not what the interpreter, miller, the messsage or the theme of the site, or what the mill site folder said, but the fact that they walked around the building and saw a pipe coming out of the wall of the building pouring water into the sluice box. So it may come down to it what do you want the visitor to carry away with them? Information about the history or operation of the mill or that it was operated artificially like an amusement park mill? Some amusement park mills add blue dye to the water so it looks like the water reflects more of the blue sky. Does passing on a view of inappropriate restoration hurt as much as passing on incorrect interpretive information?

(29) A drawing from one of the books by the late Eric Sloane. His books have inspired may to develop an interest in old hand tools and early Americana. He was a friend of the late E. Barton and Bradford McGuire. Barton told me that he did not understand milling technology, and what he did not understand. The big problem with using Eric Sloane as a reference of guide is that he tended to make up and fill in the gaps in his information. He wrote 30 some books in the area of Americana, but only one of the does he provide reference material for his sources. Eric Sloane was a meteorologist who became an artist to paint cloud formations. He became interested in old tools for their design and shape. I always felt if I had ever put down Eric Sloane as a source material for an interpretive program that I would be seriously questioned. Mr. Sloane thought that mills were a dead dying subject and not worthy of an entire books just about them. An idea that he even discussed in his writing. Eric Sloane's work and books must have been inspired by the works of Marion Nichol Rawson. If you look at the drawings on Marion Rawson's book "Of the Farm," the drawings of the fences, styles of barn roofs and the drawings in general are in the same style of art that Mr. Sloane later copied. Eric Sloane's best work on mills was entitled , "Mills of Early America," American Heritage, vol. 6, no. 6, October, pages 104-107, 1955. The writings and drawing of Marion Nichol Rawson, Edwin Tunis, and David Macauley (in more recent years) were popular writers that presented a more accurate information about mills.

What went on inside a Grist Mill of 1850, as seen from a Millwright's stetch.

Was it a millwright's drawing like the one above that inspired Eric Sloane,
to do the above drawing? Perhaps it was just made up from the artist's imagination.
One of my college art professors said, "Draw and paint only what you see and know,
and not what you don't see." It is fine to make up stuff, but don't tell people that it is real.

In the well written article, "Life in Early America: The Legacy of Water Mills," by Patricia O. LaLand, Early American Life, vol.32, no.1, February, 38-47, 2001, is the Eric Sloane 1970 painting October Mill. The same painting appeared in his book, "I Remember America." It is almost like the article was written by or directed to the large group of individuals who think Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the finest examples of a grist mill in the United States. Mabry Mill is interesting but there are many more better examples only if one would get off the parkway of life and look at them. Mabry Mill was constructed in the beginning of the 20th century using a 19th century style but it actually had an operating lifetime of less than 30 years. It is a mill that is poor maintained, operated and interpreted. It is being used to sell millions of bags of flour and meal that is produced elsewhere because of its nostalgic quaint rural architectural style in which a private individual is getting rich using a government faculty to do so. It is politics plan and simple. Someone is so politically entrenched that even the federal government is afraid to move him out. The National Park Service claims it does not have the money or interest to restore an old mill to operating condition, and staff it with its own employees. "It is not a priority item," the federal government will say over and over again. The same story has happened at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C. The National Park Service and the federal government are playing politics with out national treasures, just go down to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and find out what ever happened to the pounding mill. It was the only example of a complete and "original" pounding mill in the United States that could be restored and made to operate once again. Because there was not the interest or the money it was allowed to sit out in the weather and now is no more, but there are several photos of it in the Historical American Building Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).

There is this mind set, that some people have, that says when people come to an old mill they expect to see a turning water wheel. Even if it is a turbine powered mill or may never have had a water wheel, they will go out and find an old water wheel and tack in on. It may look phony and stupid but it attracts more visitors, sells more sacks of flour and souvenirs, and people enjoy sitting down in a restaurant and looking out and seeing a turning water wheel. The Old Mill at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and the Old Red Mill in Clinton, Hunterdon County, New Jersey are two of the most well known examples. A little less well known is the Volant Mills in Volant, Pennsylvania, and I could make a list of a number of others. The line from the interpretation at the Old Mill at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, says to visitors that the mill is actually powered by a tub wheel rather than saying it is really water turbine perhaps because that sounds more "old timey."

If you look through the record files of the Historical American Building Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), you will find gross mistakes in the use of mill terminology. A good example of one of their classic errors is found in Mingus Mill near the Oconaluffee Visitors Center, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side. Besides the fact that the say the mill is located in Tennessee, they referrer to the ball turbine water wheel (at the bottom of a vertical penstock) as being an undershot water wheel. Perhaps because the water under shoots the building and does not go over an overshot water wheel? Who knows who they consulted or even if they cared to find out the correct words at this point. I thought the idea was they were suppose to consult authorities in that field for correct technical information. You would think that since they have standards for photos and measured drawings that they would have developed correct standards for the use of technical terminology.

Mountain Industry Trail, Mabry Mill Visitor Center and Complex, elevation 2,855, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 176.2, craft shop, gift shop, restaurant, water-powered combination sawmill, carpenter shop, and working grist mill. E.B. Mabry operated Mabry Mill from 1910 to 1935. A self-guiding trail gives a glimpse at pioneer industry including blacksmith, wheelwright shop, mint still, and whiskey still. There are molasses and apple butter-making exhibits in season. Exhibits all along the self guided trail.

(31) What I know about Mabry Mill I learned for site folders and National Park Service documents and not from interpreters, park rangers, guides, or the miller. One of the problems with Mabry Mill, the John P. Cable Mill and Mingus Mill, is that the miller is there to do non-interpretation. The miller is only there for color, costume or being a living prop, and they will tell you, this is why we have the park rangers whose function is interpretation. Long ago in another time when the mill still ground what it sold the old miller was for forthcoming with information about the mill. The was some sort of mill on the site in the 1890's, but what is standing to day date from after 1910. The saw mill portion was constructed in 1910, the woodworking shop built in 1914, and the center grist mill section built in 1928. Information about the Mabry's and mill from "The Mabry Story," by Brenda Casper, "Mabry Mill: Today and Yesterday," Eastern National Park & Monument Association, Blue Ride Parkway, United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1977, and National Park Service reports on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

(32) At Peirce Mill since the mill was first restored and open to the public they have always had flow diagrams in the site folder and a drawing posted inside of the mill on the second floor steps wall. This drawing was changed several times over the years and the latest drawing is an watercolor painting. Some mills that have the best drawings that explain the milling process are the Historical American Building Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) drawings. The ones that I think are the best mill drawings are as follows:

1. Betz's Mill, Bausch Rd., Lynnville vicinity, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, that shows the construction of a hurst frame in a circa 1770 grist mill (9 measured drawings).

2. Mount Pleasant Grist Mill, Warwick Furnace & County Park Roads., St. Peters vicinity, Chester County, Pennsylvania, that shows a circa 1805 grist mill that was modernized with a metal Fitz Water Wheel (25 measured drawings).

3. Peirce Mill, Tilden St. & Beach Dr. NW, Washington, District of Columbia, DC., that shows the operation of a circa 1820 Oliver Evans automated flour milling system (22 measured drawings).

4. Mascot Rollers Mills (Ressler's Mill), Newport & Stumpton Roads at Mill Creek, Ronks vicinity, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, that shows the operation a turbine powered roller mill (24 measured drawings).

5. Bahr's Mill, Gabelsville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, that shows the construction of the mill's old wooden water wheel (6 measured drawings).

Counter-Gearing Measured Drawing of Mill Gears
A Portion of one of the HABS-HAER Measured Drawings.
Frame Grist Mill, Route 30, Ringoes, Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
13 measured drawings, 5 black & white photos, 2 data pages plus cover page.
HABS call number, NJ,10-RING,1- Survey number  HABS NJ-451
Building/structure use: Grist Mill (initial use)
Building/structure dates: Completed 1736
Related Names: Dawliss,William
Some of these drawings are great for use in interpretation and model making. Their one problem is that the mills often have elements missing when they are documented by HABS-HAER, such as in this case (with the mill above) the wooden water wheel is missing from the shaft. The field note material for this structure often contains valuable information as well. HABS-HAER is a division of the National Park Service, and they will document your structure with photos and measured drawings at the owners expense. A single measured drawing costs about a thousand dollars per sheet and a mill can easily require 20 to 30 sheets. The final cost can be paid with a grant funding request. When I worked for the NPS, it was explained to me that the HABS-HAER drawings were a form of insurance. If the mill ever burned down, they would never rebuilt it unless there were HABS-HAER drawings available.

(33) Barry Mackintosh terms it "living slavery," in his chapter, "Living History," in "Interpretation in the the National Park Service: A Historical Perspective," History Division, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 1986.

Originally for many years with Rockefeller's restored Colonial Williamsburg, you only saw white fences and white faces. In recent years they began to interpret and represent cultural history rather than idealized versions of history. With Williamsburg's structures they began to allow paint to peel and began using ox blood based paints rather than white wash.

The change occurred at Philipsburg Manor after December of 1988 when Charlie Howell and a great number of other employees took early retirement. Their positions reverted back to a much lower starting salary and were then filled by African Americans.

According to "The New York State Freedom Trail Commission Report: 1698 Enslaved Africans operate a mill at Philipsburg Manor [North Tarrytown]."

According to "Africans at Philipsburg Manor, Upper Mills: Between 1680 and 1750, most of the people who lived at Philipsburg were African or of African descent. The enslaved Africans constructed, operated, and resided on a complex that consisted of a mill, manor house, bake house, slave house, wharves, and a church. Dina, Caesar, and Venture among others labored as millers, bakers, sailors, dairy workers, coopers, and servants. They and the other 20 enslaved men, women and children living here at the time of Philipse's death in 1750 formed a community."

The institution of slavery fits in more with the principals of Christianity at Philipsburg Manor. I wonder how the original owner and builder Frederick Flypse (Flypsen), a person of Dutch Jewish ancestry felt about slavery which seemed to occur with the second owner of Philipsburg Manor, Adolph Philipse (1665-1750). Frederick Flypse seemed to have died somewhere between 1693 to 1698, just before the coming of slaves to Philipsburg Manor. Christians seem to use biblical excuses to justify the practice of slavery.

While I worked at Peirce Mill, there was another National Park Service employee who speculated just because Isaac Peirce had 22 slaves and indentured servants that a slave operated the flour mill.

We had a list of the names of the millers who worked at the mill. some of the Peirce millers were "Donald, Tennyson, Gaskins, Fleckker, Donald again, Gaskins again, and the White Brothers." We knew their annual salary (of $1,200 to $1,500) which was that of a merchant miller that included free living quarters in the miller's house across the road. The slaves and later the freed men operated the saw mills seasonally. It was their responsibility to drive teams horses to hauling grain from Brandywine, Maryland and from Virginia to the Peirce Mill. They also carried barrels of flour to the market port of Georgetown. The Still House across the road made peach brandy and apple cider. The peach brandy was placed into bottles I had seen one of them with there label on the bottle. No one had yet discovered if the wet coopers for the apple cider and the dry coopers for the flour were made on the Peirce Plantation or hauled in a cooperage by their teamsters.

The 22 slaves and indentured servants were spread out across the Plantation living in different quarters. On the hill across the road from the Peirce House was the main slave house. Another slave lived in the top floor of the Potato House (1801) and the another a top floor of the Spring House (1802) whose responsibility was to make cheese and butter. Another slave lived in a house northeast of the intersection of Park and Beach Drive who did the laundry for everyone on the Plantation. A slave lived in the back room of the Carriage House who took care of the horses and the carrier pigeons. Since the large slave quarters house was near the Cow Barn (1810), the Peirce House, the apple and peach orchards that was perhaps their responsibility. There was also a blacksmith shop were Soapstone Creek enters Broad Branch Creek. There was also the Peirce Mansion with its green houses and nurseries atop of Linnean Hill. There was also the Isaac Peirce House in South East Washington along with more greenhouses and nurseries on North Capital Street. Isaac Peirce, his wife Elizabeth (Betsy) and two nieces are buried atop of Cow Hill with their slaves on the hillside over looking Soapstone Valley.

Isaac Peirce was a Quaker. My feeling is that he left Pennsylvania at the outbreak of the American Revolution to become a millwright at his master's mill of Abner Cloud Sr. A trade profession along with the miller who was exempt from military service. When the Quaker church outlawed the practice of slavery they gave the members a chose either give up your slaves or get kick out of the membership. Isaac Peirce remained an important member of the Quaker Meeting house northwest of Dupont Circle.

(34) Ted. You know, if you're not careful in writing mill articles this long and all-encompassing, you'll eventually have written THE definitive HISTORY OF WATER MILLS IN AMERICA: HOW THEY WORKED AND WHAT THEY MEAN which is what I've always wanted you to write!

Millers are like clock makers - none will be left who knows, saw, smelled, tasted or felt the wheel, the belts, the stones, the chutes, the gears and the grain, which ARE the mill.  I think that your writing here really gets nicely at the SENSUAL aspects of the mill experience.  I like that, Onward and forward!

Dorn Howlett, retired Art Education Teacher, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

(35) One of the best examples of how "not" to present an interpretive program is found in the Tim Burton's 1985 film, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure." The scene takes place in the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, when Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) finally reaches the Alamo to recover his stolen bicycle. The interpreter presents a classic program using all of the ways not to present an interpretive program. She ends with the scene with a classic line from the movie, "There's no basement in the Alamo," which defies one of the basic creeds of an interpreter that there is no such thing as a stupid question. See who can make a longer list of things not to do in presenting an interpretive program.

Alamo Scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure goes something like this: Pee Wee: (holding open a double page photo of the Alamo in a tour guide booklet in front of the camera. He lowers it to reveal the real Alamo in the background. Camera view of Pee Wee giggles with happiness that he it is about to be reunited with his bicycle at long last)
Pee Wee: (walks across lawn, does not use walkways to front door of the Alamo)
Tour Guide Tina: Hi and welcome to the San Antonio Department of Parks and Recreations Official Alamo tour. My name is Tina.
Pee Wee: (standing in back of group of visitors) Excuse me Tina, but could we go straight to the....
Tour Guide Tina: (interrupts question by saying) I will tell you what, could we hold all questions to the end of the tour? Okay!
Pee Wee: (tries to speak again)
Tour Guide Tina: (interrupts Pee Wee again by saying) Thank you!
(group has moved to next stop on tour)
Tour Guide Tina: This mission, the Alamo is from the Spanish word for cotton wood tree was established in the year 1718, that was the same year that our lovely city was founded by the Spanish expeditionary force on the same of site of an Indian burial mound.
(group has moved to next stop on tour)
Tour Guide Tina: This is one of my personal favorite part of the tour. (gestures behind her) Please say hello to our residents, Pedro and his wife Iness. (gestures to the woman mannequin dressed as Iness) Iness is holding a clay pot that she seems very proud of. (pause) She has carefully detailed it with lots of paint and glaze. (turns and gestures to the mannequin dressed as Pedro) And Pedro is working on a adobe. Can you say that with me? (holding up hands towards group) Adobe.
Group: (repeats the word) Adobe.
(group has moved to next stop on tour)
Tour Guide Tina: (standing behind large mesh hardware cloth) We are now in the kitchen of the Alamo woman. (pause) Here they are preparing many culinary delights of the South West. (pause) Do I hear someone's stomach growling? (laughing).
Tour Guide Tina: (after pause and now chewing gum) Corn can be prepared in many ways. (pause) It can be boiled. (pause) Shucked. (pause) Creamed. (pause) Or in this case, dried. It can also be used to make tortillas! (holding a waving a tortilla)
Tour Guide Tina: Do we have any Mexican Americans with us today?
Group: (only a few children in the group seem to be waving their hands)
Tour Guide Tina: (in Spanish says) Buenos dias.
Group: (repeats also in Spanish) Buenos dias.
Tour Guide Tina: Yes, there are thousand and thousand of uses for corn. (holding an ear of dried corn)
Pee Wee: (rolls his eyes)
Tour Guide Tina: All of which I will tell you about right now!
(group has now moved outside)
Tour Guide Tina: Upon this battlement in 1836, 200 Texas volunteers including such heroes as Davy Crockett, Bill Travis and Jim Bowie fought an unslot of 4 thousand Mexican Troops under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
Tour Guide Tina: (she giggles and takes the wad of gum out of her mouth) At this time, I would like to conclude our tour. And I mean it you all, you have been one of the greatest groups I have ever worked with. Really! (giggles again)
Tour Guide Tina: (pause) Okay, are there any questions? (looks around and points to Pee Wee Herman) Yes (Yea)
Pee Wee: (in a quite voice) Where is the basement?
Tour Guide Tina: Excuse Me?
Pee Wee: (louder) Aren't we going to see the basement?
Group: (quite laughs)
Tour Guide Tina: There is no basement at the Alamo!
Group: (louder laughing and children in group begin taking pictures of Pee Wee with their cameras)
Pee Wee: (runs away from group waving his arms. He runs out of Alamo and back across front lawn, running all the way to the bus station)
One of the worst mill interpretations was not witness by myself, but by one of my friends and former volunteers. The individual was at the time a park employee and not the miller at this mill. When the miller was not on duty randomly park employees would be rotated and sent to staff the site. This meant open and close the mill and stand behind the visitors counter to hand out park folders. This one individual would put on the miller's clothing and pretend to be the miller. Several times my friend witness visitors come to this individual and ask him a simple question like, "How does it work?" For no reason my friend said, that this individual would fly off the handle, and go in a tirade at them saying, "It has cost me a read deal of time and money in life to learn what I know about mills. Do you think that I am going to tell you!" The reason that I mention this is because I think he totally is unaware that he has any problems. This person seems to keep getting job after job. I have seen a file of this person's ideas for programs at an old mill and he had great ideas on paper. At one point I did an employment check on this person and learned this individual has not been repeatedly fired because of problems with his form of interpretation or lack of it. He has been fired from at least four mills, one park, and one historical organization that I know of become of repeated problems this individual has with sexual harassment, some of it involving legal court cases. Some how as I learned more about this individual over the years it made the gross misinformation statements and poor interpretation styles seem not so bad.

Improvisation, working without a script.

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer (c.1345-1400) expressed similar sentiments in his characterization of the miller in The Miller's Tale . He said that the miller "wel coude he stelen corn, and tollen thryes; and yet he hadde a thombe of ...." The miller's gold thumb referred to the practice of pressing the thumb on the scales when weighting grain to increase the amount and thus the price.
There is a big problem in interpreting Canterbury Tales, the Miller tells his tale in "The Miller's Tale," but that is not the story of the miller. The tale of the miller is told in the "The Reeve's Tale." The tale ends, "Thus have I quyt the Millere in my tale. Heere is ended the Reves Tale"

I have even found this common mistake in mill web sites that have pages giving Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale," If you sit and go through the old English it is not the tale about the miller, as I mentioned it is the tale told by the miller who is talking of someone other than himself. This is a common problem with the internet, people create web pages and then they don't look at them on the internet to see if they are working correctly.

The Miller was an important person, ranking third in power after the lord of the manor and the parish priest, as people were dependent on him for bread. Families sometimes worked a mill through several generations, the millwright's skill passing from father to son. Millers often had a reputation for dishonesty. A tombstone in an Essex graveyard bears this inscription, "Here lies an honest miller, his name was Steal." In 1796, a law went into effect which made payment for the miller's services in money compulsory. Prices had to be posted or the milled was fined 20 shillings. This was done to eliminate the illegal practice of "hanging up the cat" the practice in which a miller took some of the farmer's grain for himself.

Barry Mackintosh in his chapter, "Living History," in "Interpretation in the the National Park Service: A Historical Perspective," History Division, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 1986.

"At the behest of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, Pierce Mill in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., was restored as an operating gristmill in 1936; the meal was used in government cafeterias.......Blue Ridge Parkway, the reconstructed Mabry Mill ground grain and mountain people demonstrated crafts." Barry Mackintosh in his chapter, "Living History," in "Interpretation in the the National Park Service: A Historical Perspective," History Division, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 1986.

(40) Freeman Tilden, "Interpreting Our Heritage," 3rd edition, Chapel Hill, N,C., University of North Carolina Press, 1977.

(41) National Park Service, "Fulfilling the National Park Service Mission: The Process of Interpretation," Module 101, Interpretive Development Curriculum, from Interpretive Development Program Web site .

(42) If you read the National Park Service books and publications on interpretation is that they sometimes have sections on or end with the note that "Interpretation is in Crisis." I understand that interpretation may move in cycles and at times it has been better, and somehow drops off for a number of factors. I think that it needs to be spoken of on a more positive note. It has been better in the past, and it will get better again in the future. I does not help employee's moral to state it in the terms that it has gone down hill to the point that all interpretation is in crisis. Employees moral does now down because of problems with the supervisor; the site is locked into presenting certain programs and there are difficulties instituting new programs, problems and funding for the site such as lack of money for salary increases, benefits, restorations, equipment or training; employee personal problems, and that the (employee or supervisor) may need to move on (or retire); constant employee turnover, the position may need to become permanent rather than seasonal, and people just get burned out after a while. There is a big difference between interpretation coming to the point of "crisis" or that it is in "crisis." Perhaps then if you read this article and all of the footnotes, you might then feel that mill interpretation is in crisis. Who knows perhaps then that may have been the point of this exercise after all. Actually if you read the article and the complete footnotes you should have the basic information to assemble an interpretive program for the average old mill. Just so you don't miss the real point I just told you.

Interpretation for Old Mills (part 1)
Supplement to the Interpretation of Old Mills (part 2)
Addition to the Interpretation of Old Mills (part 3)
Addendum One: Footnotes on Living History Interpretation (part 4)
Addendum Two: Selected Readings on Living History Interpretation (part 5)

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Copyright 2001 by T. R. Hazen