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Interpretation for Old Mills (text only; no images or links; print version; 198k)

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

Types of Interpretation:

Interpretation for old mills is much like balancing millstones, it comes in two forms static and dynamic. In interpretation then static interpretation of an old mill would be when the machinery is still, not operating, or not able to operate. Dynamic interpretation of an old mill would be when part of, or all of the machinery is in motion. This may include just turning a portion of the machinery to idle it, or the grinding of grain into flour or meal. Over the years I have seen a wide variety of interpretation in old mills, some very good, and some very bad. I find that interpretation of old mills has two drastically different effects upon the visitor when the mill is operating versus when the mill is not operating. You could be the best interpreter in the world, but when the machinery begins to operate there is nothing like it in the world. Even the best interpreter has to take a second seat to the turning machinery. All one can to is add to what is already happening. It may be like being a to witness creation, the raw grain going and seeing the final flour coming out, and being able to touch it between your fingers. Who wants to read about it or hear about it when you can see the real thing happening before your eyes. It is like watching bread dough grow into a loaf of warm baked bread before your eyes

Lets look at an example, you sitting in the audience part of a group of visitors watching an interpreter in an old motion picture theater. That interpreter after introducing themselves and who they represent, explains the history and importance of the theater. Then a visitor asked the question what happened here? For what ever reasons may be behind our science fiction example there are no longer any motion pictures in their world. All the interpreter can do is make the theater dark inside and explain what happened upon the huge white screen behind them. This is a similar effect that interpretation of an old mill has upon visitors when it cannot operate. If the interpreter could make the motion picture screen come alive with light and moving pictures all they could do is step aside and take a seat to what is happening upon the giant screen. An old mill when it is operation has motion, a bit of lights and shadows flickering inside of the building. What really draws the visitor into what is happening is the real sounds more alive that recorded sounds coming out of speakers. There is the sounds of the flowing water turning the water wheel, and the sounds of the gears meshing together as they turn the millstones. Then there is also the added factor of smell. There are many smells in an old mill which is much different than any other rural building. I will save taste and texture for later. What it comes down is a similar experience for the visitor part of the real interpretation of an old mill, he is a witness how the miller experiences operating a mill is by using your senses.

In today's world, I would guess almost every interpreter at any site has experienced it. A visitor walking through with a operating video camera glued to their eye. They won't stop, you can't say anything to them like even, "Do you have any questions?" (1) It is almost like the bootleg video they sell on many of our major city streets but this for what ever reason is bootleg vacations. The visitor goes away with experiences that they never stopped to enjoy or understand when it was really happening. There may be nothing an interpreter can do, if their batteries died they would simply go in search of more batteries.

Since most people have never been a mill let alone seen one that is operating. You may ask yourself if they could go home and have learned only one thing what would that be? I always think of is an understanding of how the millstones work. They do not touch each other or mash, crush up the grain into flour like most people who walk in the door with this preconceived notion. Anther approach is to allow the visitors to experience the mill by using all of their senses. The one way to do this beyond the actual mill when it is operating. Since they cannot touch the turning machinery for safety reasons, they can have a better sense of the mill by being able to sense some thing of the machinery. You can use old wooden gear teeth without being covered with lubrication, millstone dressing tools, and being able to touch the millstones. I have even made an all-wooden mill pick for small children to hold and touch that does not have the weight and dangers of an actual metal tool. Some of the tools used in the operation of the mill such as scoops, paddles, bag closing devices, and so forth are also good for them to experience. You can show them objects or artifacts that are familiar or may be perhaps strange to them. A picture is worth a thousand words as the old saying goes. Then how many words are found in a three dimensional object worth. If your local health officer allows it setting aside some grain and ground flour for the visitors to be able to touch and feel. This of course would be thrown out at the end of the day.

One of the best experiences an interpreter in an old mill can learn from it to present his program to a blind individual or group of totally blind individuals. They can sit their at a distance and safety hear all of the sounds of the mill operate. But the major portion of your program has to involve using touch and texture of the actual mill parts. This may involve kernels of grain, a hand full of flour, touching a portion of the millstone and its furrows. Being able to hold a wooden gear tooth in their hands and other experiences even filling a sack of flour. You can do things like letting them grind up a few kernels of grain using the millstones in their mouth or between two smaller stones on a table. This is one of the best ways I think an interpreter can become better at one he does is to make a visitor who has lost one or more of their senses to understand what is happening and to go away with a better understanding. Then one might say the visitors have all of their senses would be a breeze, but it is far to easy one of two of them to get lost between the cracks. Did you reach out and touch everyone who wanted to learn and understand today, remember sometimes a lot of visitors are terribly shy and pass by without saying a word. You don't want to become an interpreter that when visitors see you coming they turn and walk in another direction. I have been seen this happening for real in some parks.

One of the best sources of information it use in the "contrast" and "compare" portions of your interpretive program I have found in the pages of an old milling journal called, "American Miller." The issues from the beginning half of the 1900's, each issue they ran a one page section similar to "Ripley's Believe it or Not." It was entitled Milling Highlights and Oddities." They had a number of line drawings with a sentence of two caption underneath. One example was, did you know that the tooth of a woolly mammoth is about the same size with grooves on the surface just like that of a millstone. Another example shows how explosive flour dust is, at one time some built an internal combustion engine that was fueled with nothing but flour. Over a number of decades they provided interesting facts about historical events and mill related technology. (2)

Some of the most interesting and compelling interpretation that I have seen was what I would referrer to as the interpretation of space. The interpreters setup their furniture within an archaeological grids of where a building was discovered. The visitor remains outside of the grid with perhaps the sense of being able to look not only through time but through walls of a building as well. The interpretation is actually within the real space of an historical building or event presenting their program.

I have been to one park that does first person interpretation. (3) The person in charge at the time told me that he became interested in interpretation and living history because of his interest in old mills. (4) They do what I referrer to as "soap opera" living history. They get together each morning before the park opens to the public, and plan out the days story line, for example, today a child has died. Then they all go out and present how that event would have effected the lives of their characters. (5) In mills like anything that has turning machinery people get injured, they loose either parts of their bodies or their lives, but that is not an event that I would consider presenting in living history in an old mill. I would think you might quickly loose your funding if you presented programs about death and tragedy. I think besides the main themes of an historical mill site, you would want to present mills and water power are still a practical and environmentally friendly alternative technology. Mills are still around because the technology is old, that does not mean it is obsolete or its products are bad product. If modern energy methods fail, or we run out, we may be just going back to these forms of power one day.

I was somewhat disappointed to read the lesson plans from Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Saugus, Massachusetts, there was no mention of water power or water wheels. I know the Fitz Water Wheel Company was responsible for the original restoration of their water wheels when the site was first restored. At least at Lowell and at Harper's Ferry they discuss the topic of water power. My ideal National Park to have worked in would have been if they created a park out of a portion of the flour milling district of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You would have such great themes as water power, flour milling technology and the history and development of the milling district of Minneapolis.

To return to this last park, I am waiting for the day when they rebuild their mill. My understanding is that they had a millwright come to America from England. However, before he could erect a mill he died. So they had to order a mill kit from England. A full size mill built in England, taken apart, stuffed on board with more immigrants coming here. Once it arrives you follow the instruction and put slot "A" into hole marked "A." So on and so forth until you have a mill a complete mill. I think I just gave away a lot of their story lines. Since I learned about this park, back in England somewhere they found lost and hidden in an English garden a post mill. In some of the old drawings and maps you found post wind mills that were not drawn to scale but were about the size of a man. For a long time they though this was a problem in interpretation and perspective. The discovery of this windmill showed that they had build portable windmills that were not much larger than the size of a man that could be moved from place to place. They had scaled down sail arms, gears and a small diameter pair of millstones, and could actually grind grain into flour. They were somewhat like the later portable burr mills but were complete with their own ability to generate power. So perhaps this park in its historical period either bought a full size mill, or one of these smaller scale windmills from England. It is an interesting alternative after all, one of these portable windmills would better fit into a 17th century sailing ship.

There are two main types of interpretive programs in mills. The first one is a walking tour of the mill, and the second is station interpretation. A walking tour of the mill is when the miller, park guide, volunteer, or interpreter takes a group of visitors through the mill. (6) They would stop at various stations or places in and around the mill on a tour. Generally this is the bread and butter of school group interpretation, and perhaps the best way to take a group of visitors through a milling program. The interpreter in many cases would began his talk at station one. This station is usually the outside of the mill within view of the dam, and mill race, with the water wheel, and the mill in the background. Once the program begins it generally takes from one half an hour to forty-five minutes to complete.

The Walking Tour Method of Mill Interpretation:

The best way to present a program is to first write an interpretive outline or lesson plan, and then to write out the dialog for the program in long hand. Another method is to create it by using the storyboard method. Make the interpretive materials appropriate to the age and grade level of understanding and educational level. (7) Your program begins by identifying your group or organization that you are employed with. Then you establishing how you want to be referred to by the students, as Mr., Mrs., Miss., or by a first name, such as Ted the miller. The basic portion of this program outside of the mill would give a brief history of the mill. Don't fool yourself, the group is there not to learn every detail and event in the mill's history, but to see it operate so keep it simple and basic. An interpreter friend's wife stated in these terms: "They lived, they fought, and they died." Keep it simple. Those visitors with a greater interest will identify themselves after the program is over or by coming back and asking more questions. So if she is correct in her interpretation of who interpretation should operate, milling interpretation should be no more than: "They built, they ground, and it stopped."

An overview of the history of the mill in the mill's folder is generally enough for most visitors. If you start getting too detailed with dates and names you will begin to loose people. This is the time to include the main, and sub themes of the site. This would include information like, this mill was one of many mills along this mill stream. Give information like the number of mills over a period of time. The first mill was build in "such and such a date," and the last one was in operation until "such date." Other relevant information can be presented such as "why" were the mills built here, such as to make use of the water power in the stream, and perhaps this was near a port, or an export market, and close to the sources of grain. The patterns of wheat growing and grain milling as well as the milling technology may have changed over the years.

If the person giving the interpretation is the only person on site, and the control gate for the water wheel is nearby or accessible, this is a good time to open and close the gate. If there is another person on duty in the mill, like the miller, he can operate the water wheel from inside for the group. If the school kids are young enough you can first ask them the question, "How do you turn it on? I don't see a switch." Generally the kids are bright enough to say, "pull the handle." You need to make them understand that it is not like a light switch at home, by flicking the switch "off" and "on," it does not always work. In fact, it does not have a switch. You can explain it in this manner, "Water flows and fills the buckets on top of the water wheel. Once enough buckets are full, and that portion (the top) of the water wheel becomes heavier than the rest of the water wheel the wheel will turn or fall. As long as the water is flowing the wheel will continue to operate. The water wheel arms are like a series of levers as long as you (the weight of the water) pushes down upon them the wheel will turn. The more water, the more machinery can be operated, and then therefore, the more grain the miller could grind."

This can be a time to include such information like generally most of the time it works fine, but its operation is dependent upon the stream or mother nature. When the stream floods you can't operate the mill, or when the water levels in the stream are low you also can't operate the mill. You can compare this to eating candy, too much of a good thing will make you sick. If you never get any candy the more you long for. During the winter months the mill sometimes can't operate because of snow and ice buildup on the water wheel but most of the time it will operate with no problems. Environmental messages can be included such as the turning action of the water over the water wheel mixes oxygen into the water which actually improves aquatic life in the stream. One of the mills that I have worked in historically the fish swam up the over flow around the mill dam. The old millers and locals who lived in the area talked about it. This can be a time to talk about different types of water wheels, wind mill power and the operation of a tidal mill. Actually tidal power is more dependable because you operate using salt water and it does not freeze. Because you are operating from the sea and not a stream you don't have problems with season flooding and low water droughts. The only problem is that tide time changes and you operate the mill twice a day for about 5 or 6 hour periods each. You may be operating the mill then in the middle of the night because that is when the tides are working for you. You can sit down and make a tide chart. Then you can tell someone to come back on any given day and time (up to a year in advance) and the mill should be working. You can't do that with a wind or stream power mill. The only time it won't work is if the wind has blown hard enough and long enough it will prevent the tide from coming back but that rarely happens. That is a good time to include the question why then you don't find more tide mills around?

Before you take you group into the mill you must stop outside of the door and give the group a safety message. This is when you can stop at the door of the mill and explain why the mill may have Dutch doors and that the miller wanted to keep out stray dogs and kids from getting hurt inside of the mill. The top of the door can be opened to allow light and air to enter the mill but keep out unwanted guests. Some mills had a bell on an outside pole that was rung so the miller knew someone was there with a wagon load of grain. The customers used it, and the miller got used to coming to the door when the bell was rung. Other times some one could yell inside through the open door for the miller, but that is know a good idea you should knock first before you enter people's houses or places of work. The mill's cats could have constant access to the mill and the outside. Many mills had a cut in the corner of the door so the cat could move freely. Explain to them that there is turning machinery inside of the mill and it does not know or care if it is grind up grain or people. You can tailor the words to fit the age level and understanding of the group so you don't really need to talk about blood and gore.

If the person contact person of the tour is a park guide this is a good time to present the group to the miller who would take over the tour and present the operation of the mill from the millstones to the mill's basement where the gears are located, and where the grain may exit the millstones fall down a chute into a bin. If this is a tag team tour of the mill, the miller can present his portion of the program, and then give it back to the park guide for the final stage which may be a film or video presentation on another level or building of the mill site. Some mill sites the visitors and groups see the film or video before they enter the actual mill site grounds. When the program ends, make sure you thank the group for coming, and you can include who good of a group they were such as good listeners, etc. Invite them to come back on the weekend with their families and friends, etc. You can add things like saying to the teacher, "You can leave one or two of them with us. We are always looking for a good apprentice." The in turn usually ask, "How much do we get paid?" You can answer that we will clothe and feed you and give you a place to stay until we feel you can graduate and go work for yourself. That is a better deal that the school gives you." Then if the kids ask, "But how much do we get paid?" You can answer, "You can have all of the flour you can eat!"

My personal feelings about mill tours, I don't like them. I think they are an unnatural act. They are not historically accurate and it is not a way to present living history. (8) You become a third person costume interpreter. (9) Historically people would not be taken through the mill on a tour, and have its operation explained to them. The mill does not operate the mill by the miller touring through the mill. He would run the mill by working at one or two stations, this was usually the millstone and basement level of the mill. The miller's helper or apprentice would do the work on the upper floors of the mill by climbing narrow steps or ladders. It is a good way of effectively presenting back to back programs to school groups with a 5 or 10 minute break in between. It is a necessary evil for week day operation of the mill to school groups. On the weekends and when groups are not scheduled visitors can randomly move though the mill. Some mills only allow visitors to more though the building on mill tours. They do not allow the visitors to remain, sit, watch the operation of the mill for long periods, or ask a lot of questions. This would include such activities as sitting in a corner and drawing or setting up a tripod and taking pictures. Some mills have gone so far as to create walkways to keep the visitors within guardrail areas while moving though the mill. It becomes like a modern industrial plant tour after a while. The problem with many mills is that they only allow for the employment of one person, a miller. A mill should have two people for the main consideration of safety. The other person who is station at the mill can be the miller's helper, park guide, or outlet sales person. They should always know how to stop and start the machinery for safety concerns. For employee safety, and visitor liability there should always be two person at the mill to operate the mill and grind grain into flour. If there is not you are taking a big risk if someone were to get hurt. A million plus kids can go though the mill with no problems all it takes is just one to get hurt to spoil it for everyone.

The most rewarding part of being a miller- interpreter was receiving large envelopes in the main that contained a booklet made up from drawings that were inspired by that the impressed the kids the most about their recent school field trip. Sometimes it was the kids that acted the worst that you thought were not paying attention, and it was a complete waste of your time to present a program to them. Then out of the blue one day you would receive this wonderful testament to your efforts in the mail. Surprising things happen every day. It seemed like it was always one groups that you made notes in the margin of the school field trip book don't ever take kids from this grade and school ever again. Of course, it was only something that we would privately joke about but would not ever do.

The Stations Approach to Mill Interpretation:

The other form of mill interpretation is station interpretation. A person is station at each stop or place of interest in what could be termed a visitor self guided tour of the mill. This may be two people one located at the millstones and another in the mill's basement if that is where the ground material is coming out of the millstone chute into a meal bin. If the millstones are located on a platform above the gearing and behind a meal bin then you would only need one person. Station interpretation in a mill works well when you have many floors and machinery turning on each level. This is for interpretation reason and for visitor safety. During special events and festivals you have to give up the idea of mill tours and go to station interpretation for visitor safety and visitor flow. The system that I like is when the visitors are guided through the mill by tour guides who present the majority of the interpretation to the visitors. The visitors can watch the miller and his helpers operate the mill grind grain and package flour. Then before the visitors move onto the next station stop the visitors are allowed to ask questions of the miller or his helpers. Sometimes the miller and his helper can interact and present they first person interpretation amongst themselves with the visitors present. (10) This is sort of like the visitors are allowed to time travel and look in on what a happened in the mill during a certain time period but they cannot interact or they might change history. Self-introduced role play (11) is first person interpretation introduced (and or followed up) in third person by the same interpreter. (12) Role acting is a hybrid of first and third person interpretation in which interpreters adopt a historical personality by a first person, but respond beyond its bounds when prompted by out-of-period and personal questions.

First Person Interpretation:

Now to get back to the idea why I consider much of this an unnatural act. Historically people were not allow to walk through a mill and the miller would not normally explain the operation of the mill to strangers. The miller like the millwright and millstone dresser learned his trade through apprenticeship. They safeguarded their secrets and only reluctantly passed them on to their apprentices over a long period of years. Therefore traditionally anyone who would come to the mill, the miller would see them coming and stop the mill. Nothing would ever be apart such as the millstones uncovered and open for viewing. The visitor would not see the mill operating or be allowed to ask questions about its workings. The visitors or mill customers were told to leave your grain and come back at a set time, and they could pick up their finished product (minus the toll collected for payment of grinding). In the mean time they could use the area around the mill for fishing, swimming, picnicking or ice skating. Some millers and mill owners only allowed visitors to use the area around the mill for recreation if they were customers of the mill at that time otherwise they would be run off. Rakes Mill at Rakes Mill Pond above Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway was a good example of this. (13) Basically then as far as milling is concerned interpretation is an event or act taken place out of time but set into an historic place which would never of happened. I think then first person living history does not work in a mill environment because people have no historical reference to it. People waited their turn sitting on their wagon with all the other customers of the mill. A young child sometimes would have to sneak into the mill to ever get to see it operating otherwise their fathers would tell them to sit in the wagon.

To do first person interpretation you need to the staff to present it effectively. (14) You need a third person interpreter outside of the mill to introduce everyone to what is going on inside of the mill. (15) I have had a difficult time to allow the budget to have more than one paid staff person let alone two individuals. You need someone in modern clothing to introduce what is happening inside of the mill or stop your program and explain what it is and that you are about to present it to them. (16)

The wind miller at Colonial Williamsburg does not do first person interpretation of the windmill. His apprentices present all of the interpretation from the ground level and then allow you to climb the ladder to look into the mill. One reason the windmill was reconstructed not on a site of the original two windmills. It does not operate, it is in an area where there is not enough wind, and it is not in mechanical condition that would allow it to actually grind grain. Second Mr. Rockefeller decided that the windmill should be some thing that you interpret and does not operate. Meanwhile the other craftsman are practicing their trades but the miller and his apprentices have been mandated not to operate the mill. This has been a source of great frustration for the wind miller and his apprentices over the years that they can only interpret the windmill. And thirdly or finally, the wind miller spends his time making baskets and talking of other matters. The definition of the term "living history" means that you make history come alive how can you effectively go that if the mill can never come alive. Third person and first person interpretation makes use of costumed actor or guides, known as interpreters. (17)

The True Living History Approach to Mill Interpretation: Advantages and

Costume interpretation is basically what you have to present to visitors because in restored mills since you are not operate the mill in a way it did in an historical period. The one mill that I have seen that comes closest to true living history is the Upper Mills at Philipsburg Manor where the late Charles Howell was the miller for many years. (18) The new miller Pete Curtis is continuing in their tradition of grinding grain that is carried to the mill in burlap sacks, hoisted to the top floor of the mill by a sack hoist. Then the sacks are dumped loose into the mill's bins above the millstone level. Once it is ground and then the apprentices sift the flour it is placed either into cotton sacks or sealed in the traditional wooden flour barrels. Later when the visitors go home the sacks or barrels are opened, and someone puts the flour into the modern paper sacks that are sold in the gift shop. This usually happens in a clean basement room of the visitors center. A drawing on the wall of the Dayett Mill at Cooch's Bridge off the Old Baltimore Pike south of Interstate 95 and Newark, Delaware, is of a miller that resembles the late Charles Howell. (19) I remember that it is a drawing from "Early American Life" back in the early 1970's when they did an article on Philipsburg Manor when Charles Howell came from England to be their miller. The miller has a big smile with his arms at his waist, and wearing his apron has a round barrel-like shape. (20)

I need also to mention lubrication and cleaning up of the mill at the beginning, and end of the day. It depends upon the park, historical site how this is handled from site to site. In many cases the lubrication and maintenance of the machinery is done when the visitors are not wondering the mill. The mill should not wear the same clothing he wears while running the mill and making flour. He may have a pair of coveralls that he slips off and on. Also when is the mill is cleaned after each days operation or grinding. The doors are locked and the visitors go home and the modern vacuum cleaners come out. The Glade Creek Mill in Babcock State Park, near Cliff top, West Virginia, the miller ends his day and goes home. Then the park maintenance and cleaning staff come in and cleans the mill. You can't maintain modern health standards with historical cleaning equipment. A miller can use a traditional broom, brush or cobweb catcher to show visitors how they cleaned historically. Then to present a mill in an historical interpretive setting the mill would have dust and cobwebs everywhere. Grain and flour would be spilled on the floors and there would be no evidence of health standards in place. So to operate a mill in a true living history format you can't do that with modern health standards in place. (21) You have to make some compromises and work around things. So if the miller and his helper are also the mill's maintenance and cleaning staff for the mill you have to allow time in the day for those operations to occur. The first hour of the day is set aside for maintenance and lubrication, and setting up of demonstration items. The last hour or hour and half are set aside for cleaning and maintaining the health standards. The miller and his helpers may answer questions but no formal interpretive programs can occur unless one person can clean while the other stops what he is doing and deals with visitors.

The thing I find unpleasant the most about working in an old mill is closing by locking the doors, and staying inside to clean while visitors are still in the area around the mill. You can have the hours posted outside of the mill and a "closed" sign. It does not matter what you do, visitors will try to the door, pound on it, and look in the windows. They will just not let you alone and want your attention and time even tough the mill is closed for the day to the public. Visitors will want to buy flour, get directions, park information, and folders. At times it is hard not to have your interpretation effected by the mill's other operations. You have to establish guidelines and procedures and stick to them.

Other Forms and Variations of Mill Interpretation:

Interpretive programs at an old mill can take many forms besides tours and demonstrations, talks and walks can also become successful programs. For example, anything connected to the mill's operation or maintenance can be turned into a program. Millstone dressing is a program in and of itself. The process of uncovering the millstones, and lifting up the runner stone are the beginning part of this demonstration. If the event is done for a program, then you would basically explain the process, the tools used and how it was done. If dressing the millstones is an actual maintenance event for the mill it can become an ongoing demonstration that can last for several days. When dressing millstones for visitors you should still wear safety glasses and keep visitors at a safe distance so they do not get stone chips in their eyes. This is a good time to add in bits of information like most millers wore breads to protect them from the cold and from stone chips. Many restored mills that are open to the public would never think of or allow the dressing of millstones while visitors are in the mill or when it is open to the public. Often these mills may not have a millstone crane and lifting and upturning the runner stone is done the old fashioned dangerous way. This also means that the mill may never clean between the millstones after each days grinding. Some mills that have two pairs of millstones many have one together for grinding demonstrations and another always apart for show. This way the miller can explain the operation of the grinding process or millstone demonstration with the apart pair of millstones and grind with the other pair. From time to time the miller can switch back and forth with the use different pairs of millstones so he does not wear out one pair more than the other. For special events the miller may have both pairs of millstones together and grind with both millstones at one time. It is sort of like demonstrating a balancing act grind grain on two pairs of millstones at the same time. One pair of millstones could be grind corn while the other grind wheat.

I should mention grinding grains. If a mill only grinds one type of grain, and makes only one grain product such as corn meal, also if a mill was only build to grind only corn meal that is one thing to do historical demonstrations. It takes no great skill upon the miller's part of maintain, and operate a mill that just grinds corn meal. It takes much more skill upon a miller's part to operate a wheat mill and make flour. If the mill gets a lot of repeat visitors you may wish to consider grind more than just corn meal. This way on day that I was grinding corn, I would talk about the history and uses of corn. I would grind corn meal and also at times be producing grits. You could show the visitors the various stages, and products that come from each separation. Other days I would be grind wheat, buckwheat, rye or oats. On days that I was grinding rye and buckwheat the mill would be extra dusty because of those materials being ground that put more dust into the air. I could also talk about how buckwheat was not a cereal grain or a grass, but it is an herb. Buckwheat and corn do not have explosive dust like wheat, rye and oats. Some times I would grind corn on one pair of millstones and wheat or another small grain on the other pair of millstones, but then at the end of the day, I would have twice as much to clean up. It was easier to grind corn or wheat and then switch to buckwheat without cleaning up around the stones between each grain. I would have only one pair of millstones to clean up at the end of the day, and what was laying around the millstones under the cover would be mixed together. Rather than throw it out, I would hand sift this and bag it as pancake flour.

Mills are very expensive, they are expensive to build, restore, relocate, and to maintain. Some historical organizations discourage the public grinding of grain for visitors to see. They simply say that it cannot be done in a museum environment and with living history programs. Part of it may be that they think milling is a commercial operation, and it will take away from the interpretation aspect of the site. You can maintain modern health standards in an historical mill setting. If you look at most states health regulations that would apply to grist mills the laws are not that difficult to maintain their standards. In fact most states have very little regulations that apply to old mills. An operating mill produces a food product and not a ready to eat item. It is not like a restaurant were you are serving a finished food product to seated customers. As long as you are able to plug in a vacuum cleaner, and you have access to a slop sink you should be able to maintain health standards. If you follow my guidelines: "Recommended Health Practices for the Operation of Historic Grist Mills," found on another page of this web site, you should have no problems. Most states regulations for old grist mills fall under the regulations of their department of agriculture and not public health. Many states would not find it a problem to have a mill cat in the mill while you are grinding grain, it is a dog that they have problems with.

Interpretation of old mills is mainly the interpretation of a technical process. So the main insight of interpretation for visitors is to make them see and understand something that they have never seen or is hidden from view. Most people have no idea who flour is made let alone have ever been in an operating mill. I think there is a fascination with old mills because it represents a more simpler technology than what we encounter in out every day lives. The milling of flour is basic because wheat is one of the basic staples of life. The milling of flour has always been one of our top 10 industries back to early America. Even today we are world leaders in the milling of flour. Milling is a trade rather than a craft. (22) A craft would be spinning wool on a spinning wheel, you can put it down and come back to it at a later date with no continued monetary outlay or investment. Pottery is a craft as long as you throw the raw green ware back into the slop bucket, and then rework and wedge the clay over again. Once you place it into a kiln and fire it takes on another form of a trade and industry. Milling is a trade and a business process because once you grind grain into flour you cannot it turn it back into grain again, like you could take apart once fired pottery and throw it on the potter's wheel over again. The more you operate a mill the better it will operate because it is getting more regular attention and maintenance. A mill develops problems when it is operated on an off and on basis. I don't know how mills can continue to operate once a month or only once a year for special events. A mill with a wooden water wheel, and wooden gears and teeth is effected by seasonal and climatic changes so it is almost like a living thing. A more modern burr mill or roller mill is metal based technology and bearings, like a metal Fitz Water Wheel which is more like operating a motor than a water wheel. If you have ever seen a larger Fitz Water Wheel operate like a 32 foot diameter wheel when you close your eyes it does not sound like a water wheel but an electric motor running.

Some programs or talks that I enjoyed doing involved a series of props and tools. One program involved the tools of the miller, or of the millstone dresser and millwright. A program can be made out of the tools it took to build and maintain the mill. Another program can involve wooden barrels. I had a number of historically correct wooden flour barrels that were made by the cooper at Colonial Williamsburg. I had one barrel so I could pull off the wooden ash hoop and show the interlocking notches on each end that would form the hoop. Part of the program was to talk about the difference between a "wet" and "dry" cooper, and what types of material went into each one. I had made a shaving horse so I could use it for machinery wedges, shingle making, and barrel making. A hands on program can involve simple things like demonstrating leather lacing of belts. You can have a number of lengths of belts with the holes already punched into them, and let visitors and kids learn to lace the belts. This is something that the young apprentice would learn at a young age. If school kids of that age are learning to lace and try their shoes, they should enjoy doing this on a larger scale. Another program involved a series of different hand sifters (with different meshes of screen) and containers with different products from each sifting. A standard program was to give each school kid an ear of corn and let then run it through a corn sheller. You can also talk about how long would it take to shell corn before you had corn shellers? You did it by hand so each kernel became precious to you and spillage became a problem. The problem with the corn shelling activity was keeping large amounts of eared corn around for corn shelling because it would quickly become buggy, and contaminate the rest of the grain in the mill for human demonstration grinding. I would often keep it in a separate building where fought the local squirrels from eating it first. The next stage or alternative to this program is to have a hand quern or table mounted hand powered grinding mill. Have already shelled corn (the stuff you buy in sacks that is already cleaned) and let each school kid they turn the hand grinder several turns. Then they move on to sifting what they ground over a large tub. Teachers and school kids love anything that is "hands-on. " The problem is that the powers to-be and the health officers may not like the idea of letting visitors touch the grain or finished product. This grain that was ground and sifted in this manner would get tossed out or end up as duck food.

This program can have a variation and presented when regular visitors are coming through the mill when it is grinding. Pick out a child volunteer and put on a miller's cap and an apron, and let him put the flour or meal into a sack. You can also let the kid sift some flour by hand. It can be great fun for the parents and kids, and a bit of flour on the face and clothing is not going to upset anyone. Tell the parent that the kid that they are good at it, and that they could leave them in our care, and come back in seven years to pick them up when their apprenticeship is finished. If the health people have problems with visitors around the products lets the kids help in the clean up process give them a broom and a brush. They can't hurt anything and it just may make a bit more of a mess that you have to clean up with a vacuum cleaner later.

Another program that can be done involves determining if a site or location which is suitable to locate or build a mill. Generally this is done with older kids that have a bit more math skills. You measure off a distance along a stream. Then you guess the width of the stream and average depths across that line. Then you figure out the average area in cubic feet of that cross section. Then you find an object that can float like a piece of wood, and get a kid to use his watch to time the distance it travels in a set amount of time. Then you plug these basic figures into a formula, and you would know the horse power of the stream. Then you know if a millwright would bother building a mill there or not. You just need basic things like a watch with a second hand, paper and pencil, and a floating object to know if a mill could be built on any point in a body of moving water.

If you have an Oliver Evans mill almost everything in the mill can become a part of applied science program. There are the basic machines found all around the mill. The wedges, or the incline plane, pulleys, and levers. This can be a simple cheap program with props that involves wrapping a wedge shaped piece of paper around a pencil to show what the screw on the millstone crane is a a form of a wedge. The applied science program can have to drawings and handouts. If the budgets allows the basic machines are available from school supply centers that show these basic principles such as levers and gears, or they can be easily made out of wood. So you can have a number of table top models and the real thing (application) for them to find or see in the mill. Something I found displeasing about doing mill interpretation is when teachers would have students do a scavenger hunt in the mill without our prior knowledge. I don't know what was worse having them come in to find objects or coming in disturbing out regular interpretive programs to ask questions to for answers to complete a sheet of missing blanks. Some times I have quickly given the answers to one kids sheet and then told the others to go find the kid who has the completed sheet. I know it is not the correct thing to do but they will start climbing in the machinery if you are not paying attention.

Wheat failing and winnowing was an event or demonstration that happen at special times. It was harder to get wheat cut that was still on the shafts. I had made a number of wheat flails, and had a basket maker make a winnowing basket. Generally we did this demonstration outside of the mill on large pieces of white duck canvas. This way the mess was contained on something we could easily pick up. We could do a program from wheat to loaf because we had a small cook stove inside of the mill. Then we could set up demonstrations in different areas of the mill. This is sort of like the program from sheep to shawl. Visitors love programs that involved giving each visitor a small plate with a pancake or a piece of corn bread on it for them to eat. This type of activity seems to work better for rural areas but in urban city situations the health department and the park fathers have problems with visitors tasting things and sue the park claiming they got sick. It broke out hearts as much as when were were told we could not give it to visitors, and we ourselves could not eat it, and it all had to be thrown away.

I also made a rope making machine, not that rope was an activity that was necessarily done in a mill, but there was a rope walk in the area historically. Rope was used inside of the mill for sack hoist and early rope drives of machinery. Boy scouts loved the activity and it could be done inside or outside of the mill. When we did it inside of the mill we would allow each kid to make his or her own length of jump rope to take home. It was a good activity for repeat visitors that thought they saw everything they thought happened at the mill.

A easy program that did not take a lot of effort to present revolved around a film, slide program, video, or film strip. You could give a short talk and then show the audio visual program. After it was over you could ask if there was any questions and send them on their way. Showing them a film before or afterwards can reinforce their learning experience while at the mill. (23) Sometimes the groups that act the worst can surprise you that they actually got something out of the program. School kids often go back to school and do drawings about what they learned and then teachers will turn them into booklets and often sent them to you in the mail. Now they put them up on the internet for everyone to see.

Another program that can be basic to the mill involved the use of the miller's desk. Since the miller kept records of his grain grinding, flour sales and so forth, a program can involve the use of the miller's desk, and how the miller kept his records. This can involve such things as a chalk and slate board, a tally board for keeping track of how many sack of grain the miller has ground. The miller's daily log book of what happens in and around the mill, along with the mill ledgers and record keeping. Some millers even kept a diary. (24) Writing instruments and letting kids try their hand at writing with a quill pen can be part of the program. An thing can be messy with kids especially using ink but you can have several large smocks available for them slip on before hand.

A standard program that I would do it seemed to involve a larger portion of the year, the use of the wood stove in the miller's office. Most of the time I had all of the firewood and kindling split, and a fire going before visitors came into the mill. So visitors did not experience the mill filling up with smoke until the chimney heated enough inside so the thing would draw properly. Even when the stove was going, the smell of the wood stove and the cracking of the burning wood was something to talk about. Visitors loved it because they also gathered around it to get warm. Not that I did interpretive programs about building a wood fire, but it was something that I could safely do with school kids by letting each one of them carry in a piece of fire wood into the mill. I could gather the kids around the warm stove and be talking about something else but all the time feeding the fire. I could be talking about the miller's clothing and how when I went home at night, he would take off my pants, and sleep in same shirt he wore all day. The miller's clothing or costume involved the miller's beard that kept his face warm and protected it from stone chips in dressing the millstones. The miller's shirt and neck tie, his waste coat and apron are also things mentioned in stories and folklore. Even the miller's pants are different that what people wear today. You can ask questions like why did the miller wear an apron to protect his clothes from getting dirty or perhaps the apron was cleaner than this clothing? Why was the cap the miller wore a cap with out a brim? If he wore a cap with a brim he would hit it on the machinery as he climbed about it in his work. Why did the miller dress in white, and wear clothing similar to that of the baker. They work in related trades, but long a go the baker took the miller's costume for his own.

A basic theme related program would be about milling folklore and stories. (25) I usually would get a lot of visitors for those programs. I would do programs on different types of mills, everything from merchant mills, custom mills, plantations and estate mills, to mills of the tidewater, to mountain mills. I knew if I did too much about modern mills and who they operated it would put people to sleep. So then I just know I could not show an industrial film that would last for an hour on flour bolters worked, that would even put milling science students to sleep. Kid loved films with talking characters in them such as Wally Wheat. I must have had about a half dozen or more different films that I could show in conjunction with a program I was doing at the time. I know there must be some quote in a classic interpretation text book that must say that a film is no substitute for an interpreter. The problem with applying that standard to an old mill is that an old mill can't always operate for one reason or another. So you have to have an alternative to show them that has some sound and movement a the mill. When I worked with the National Park Service at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, we had come up with a hundred thousand dollars to produce a film of the mill. It would show the machinery in operation, all of it, not just what was regularly operated but all of the machinery from top to bottom. It would show the elevators, conveyers, grain cleaner, smutter, millstones, water wheel, gears, basement sifters, hopper-boy, bolters (both of them). (26) Basically anything in the mill that the grain or flour could move though would be shown and documented. I had seen an old black and white film of Peirce Mill on public television that looked like it was shot in the 1930's or 40's. I wrote a script, it was rewritten, and others in the park added their own two cents to it. They argued over who would narrate the film. The higher ups in the park they wanted someone seen in the film that was wearing a Park Ranger uniform. They also wanted some one narrating almost every frame, but I said that sometimes you just wanted to viewer to be able to watch and listen to the machinery, and not being talked to each moment of the experience. The basic idea was to have a film that could show the mill in operation to visitors when it was flooded and could not operate, broken down or frozen up during the winter months. It was dragged out back and forth until it just never came about. The money and the professional people went onto other projects that could get off the ground. Now that the mill is broken down for a number of years, and needs another major restoration such film would be a valuable documentation. It would be a great incentive for people and organizations to donate money to get it operating once again.

I should mention that evil word, "puppets." I used to tell people when I was younger that I wanted to grow up to become a puppet until I found out puppets don't go through puberty. One of the mills that I worked in before I came there used to do puppet programs for visitors, but by the time I came along the mill has been closed for several years and the puppets and puppet theater was gone. I got one local college at had a class in puppet making to agree to make puppets and create a puppet program for the mill as a class project. They were going to make at least a miller, perhaps the miller's wife, a farmer, a mill cat, a talking bag of flour, a talking loaf of bread, and may be a talking sheave of wheat. They would create a program with the narration that was already on a tape recording so that volunteers or staff members could put on a puppet, and just mouth the words to the tape recording. The idea was that I would use a portion of the hurst frame in the basement of the mill. I would stop the mill from operating and who ever worked the puppets could stand down in the gear pit and hold the puppets up over the top of the hurst frame and I could interact with the program. The powers to-be that ran the place would not sign off on the idea, but I know from experience that if you put the word out in the media about "puppets" you will get more kids that you can handle. A basic puppet program for a mill could be about nutrition and that wheat is the staff of life. I used to do a program that has a goose puppet sort of a version of mother goose but with a miller instead and the kids loved it. If you go to my web paged called, "Mill-Speak: "Sayings" from the Mill," you will have the basic information for my miller goose program. As for my milling stories and folklore that may appear in future web pages. (27)

I should mention the old saying, "You can't fool mother nature," and grandmothers. (28) I worked at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park for 11 years that was operated by a fake overshot water wheel that was turned by city water and two electric pumps. In 1969 the second restoration abandoned operating the mill from the creek and using a breast shot water wheel and went to artificial means. This meant at that time the an annual city water bill was estimated it would be 35 thousand dollars a year to dump chlorinated city water into Rock Creek. Even grandmothers who came to the mill could tell that there was an obvious height difference between the overshot water wheel and the creek. Visitors could smell the chlorine in the water, and they often asked where it came from. It was in direct line with the public restrooms. It was easy to say the old school saying flush twice it is a long ways to the cafeteria or in this case just down hill to the 60 foot sluice box that magically came out of the hillside.

In the National Park Service the average that an interpreter works at a site or park is about 5 years. If they have worked there more than 5 years, the unwritten rule is that there may be something wrong with the interpreter that is why they have not moved on. Regardless if this is true or not, some people need to move on. I have seen interpreters that have been interpreting a site just too long, and when the visitors are gone they joking say, "They will believe anything I tell them no matter how ridiculous it is." I have always felt that what information you present to the public you, the interpreter should be able to go somewhere and point out that information in the source material. For years in my millstone dressing program I talked about the problems the millstone dresser or the miller had with the blacksmith when it came to tempering the mill picks used in dressing the millstones. My supervisor was always after me to show him where I found that bit of information. I know that the first blacksmithing books it gives formulas for quenching solutions for tempering mill picks. I also knew from my milling background that it was a problem dealing with blacksmiths. It was not until much later that I reread a book that Charlie Howell had lent me, "The American Miller, and Millwright's Assistant," by William Carter Hughes, 1894. I had made a photo copy of the entire book, and when I was typing sections of it for my web site I found that bit of information that I used in my millstone dressing programs. At the time I spent a lot of time searching, and searching for it because I knew I read it somewhere. My apologies to my former supervisor, but I kept telling him that I did not pull it out of the air but I read it somewhere.

Don't be afraid to tell a visitor, "I just don't know the answer to the question, but if you give me your name and number. I can look it up for you or get back to you with someone who would know the answer." Don't make up things in your interpretation to make yourself look good. If you don't know just say I don't know. There is no shame in not knowing the answer to a question. An interpreter can't be expected to have all of the answers. I learn new things every day and I don't know everything.

It is fine to take credit for something, a program, or building and maintaining something. I have know park rangers who claim credit for anything and everything. I knew a miller who worked in a mill that when anyone from the media would come to the mill with a camera or pencil and paper pad in hand. He would stand in front of everyone and take credit for everything regardless of if he knew what he was talking about or not. He talked himself into even being given awards for interpretation and for milling. I have know park rangers and interpreters who found old programs and ideas from 20 years, or more before that they have put their own names on and taken full credit for the idea, and have won awards for. It is better to present a team effort rather than an individual effort to the public. After all when you work for a park or organization you don't represent yourself. Even if it is something as basic as regular mill maintenance, someone has to sign off on the paper work so you have the materials to maintain the mill in operating condition. Somebody else has to see that you would make a good employee to hire you in the first place. You may have put together the program but someone had to find the funding to hire you in the first place. You may first have to present the program or outline for review before presenting it to the public. Then another individual had to present the information to the media so you would have visitors to present the program to. So on and so for with an endless list of team effort on every ones part, even down to the maintenance staff who provides clean bathrooms and visual quality about the park are part of the team effort. Don't kid yourself, there are some people that you would never see if they could not use the restroom first.

The Problems of Restoration in Old Mill Interpretation:

Not all mills are created equal. Some mills and mill buildings have been restored, others have been rehabilitated, others are a total reconstruction, and some have only been stabilized. The same is true for mill interpretation and the information that the interpreter or miller finds when they come to the mill. The Mill at Philipsburg Manor is a total reconstruction or recreation, nothing of it is original, and that would include the artifacts inside of the mill. The Colvin Run Mill claims to be a restoration but it is really a recreation. Only three of the four stone walls are original, and the machinery that was in the mill when it was restored was removed. It is someone's idea or interpretation of what it could have been installed in the mill when it was constructed. The Colvin Run Mill's biggest problems it was restored to the level of church craftsmanship but mills were never built with that degree of refinement.

Another problem with restoration is that for many years it was in style to restore a building back to the date when it was first built. Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park is a victim of this practice they removed the water turbine and power train system of the water turbine and returned the mill to its appearance of when it was first constructed. At that time it was common place to find turbine powered mills but it was beginning to become a rare thing to find a mill built in the early 1800's still with its original appearance and machinery. From time to time these mills would be featured in the professional milling journals of the day. This may be fine but in the case of the Colvin Run Mill they lost the metal Fitz Water Wheel, the roller milling system and any evidence of what may have been in the mill originally. That is what happens when you gut a building to a hollow shell and start over from scratch. The Wye Mill on Maryland's eastern shore is a good example. It was first built in 1671, and there was a saw mill next to the mill building originally. Over the years the mill has seen a lot of changes happening in this small colonial mill, but there may be not a stick of the original 1671 mill left in the structure today. If in any of its restorations someone would have decided to return the mill to its original appearance you would have lost a lot of history and the interpretation of that history. Then of course you have the changes in technology that is all still there for the interpreter or the miller to explain next to each other in the same mill. If you return a mill to the day it was built they you can logically talk about the changes in milling technology that occurred beyond your restored time period.

I knew for may years the late Barton McGuire, or E. Barton McGuire. "E" stood for Emily but she always said that she never felt like an Emily. She was responsible for the restoration of the Water Mill circa 1644 at Watermill, Long Island, New York, where she was the miller for 15 years. When she moved to Long Island with her husband, Bradford, the local woman's group asked her to join. Barton said that she would join on one condition, that we take this old mill, and turn it back into a mill again. The mill had been cleaned out and converted into a colonial teahouse. There she used the "little Red Hen" approach to mill restoration, she begged, browed and conned everyone into helping her restore the mill. Then until her sudden death, she worked for Preservation Maryland to restore the Wye Mill, State Route 404, Wye Mills, Maryland. It was something to see when a man walked into the mill asking, "Where is the miller?" Barton's fists would close and she would get this strange look on her face as she said, "You are looking at the miller!" (29) I have known several lady millers over the years. The most famous is Ed Mabry's (of Mabry Mill 1910 grist mill located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the Meadows of Dan, Virginia) second wife Mintoria Lizzie DeHart. (30) Ed never addressed her by her name but nicknamed her "Boss." For her time she was surprisingly undomestic, and could be seen pumping the bellows in his blacksmith shop or working in the grist mill. She was better at running the mill than he was. Perhaps with her size she could better toss around the sacks of grain, may be she had a better business sense that he did and took less for the customers, or with her nickname and size she intimidated the customers better than Uncle Ed. (31)

I was in the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia, before it was originally restored back in the mid-1960's, and that mill had four pairs of millstones with the corn cob crusher in the middle, and a wooden Fitz style water wheel behind the mill. Union Mills had two water wheels each operating an equal sets of millstones but it was restored only with one water wheel and three pairs of millstones. The Colvin Run Mill, Burwell-Morgan Mill, and Union Mills claim to be Oliver Evans Mills but they are missing vital components above the main (millstone) milling floor. The Copper Mill has it four pairs of millstones but only one water wheel was installed in the restoration. I can understand that a stream may no longer have the water to operate what was there historically but it all should be put back in restoration with the option that one half or the other could be operated. The water wheel at the John P. Cable Mill and Peirce Mills have gotten smaller over the years. At the Cable Mill it originally had two pairs of millstones which one was removed in its restoration. These restored mills the idea was that only one pair of millstones would be ever operated. Peirce Mill originally had four pairs of millstones, it has gone to three pairs and who knows its sad to think about, but in the future it may go to two pairs. One of the problems with restored mills is that they know that they would not ever be operated like their did during an historical time period, so they install a water wheel that can only operate one pair of millstones rather than two, three or four pairs that was or should be in the mill historically. At Peirce Mill in the 1970's their interpretation of the mill and the miller's costume was that of the 1890's during the period that the mill last commercially operated and broke down. The problem was that the mill was restored in the 1930's by the Fitz Water Wheel Company to look like it did when it was first constructed in the 1820's that may have had some of the Oliver Evans machinery from the earlier mill 1790 installed into it. (32)

In not every mill the interpreter finds a library of information and resources about the mill's history and operation. The problem with mills is that when they stop operating things disappear, machinery is sold and removed, and people and family members walk away with things. The daily log books, mill ledgers and other important bits of information that are important to its operation and interpretation disappear. Sometimes an interpreter is only given a folder about the mill (with right or wrong information) and thrown out to interpret the mill. No two mills were ever built alike or laid out in the same manor. They are as different as people's finger prints. The big problem with mill restoration is that it is not a perfect science because no two mills were exactly alike and too much is taken for granted. Then there is the problem of who makes the final decision for what is to be done, generally they know the least about what mills are all about. So a lot of mill interpretation and mill experiences is someone's modern view of what that mill could have been about. When the Fitz Water Wheel Company reconstructed the Beckman Mill at Philipsburg Manor the people there wore Dutch clothing. Now that a new mill has been recreated their they wear what could be best called colonial clothing. When Charles Howell worked there they had an English miller with English holiday celebrations throughout the year. With the new miller has come a focus on the African American experience working for their Dutch masters. (33) The Colvin Run Mill that was built in 1810 when it was restored in the early 1970's for many years the miller and the people who worked there wore colonial clothing. It looked great and I know some people were still wearing their short pants and three cornered hats in 1810 and later. Clothing did not disappear then the colonial period ended. People wore what they had for many years, and they handed it down from one person to another. Often they gave clothing to relatives in their wills. A great coat was a common will item. Then at the Colvin Run Mill after some time they decided not to wear a costume just their street clothing. I once attended a mill conference in which another miller was there from a mill where he was treated as a seasonal employee with no benefits and a minimum wage job. The individual in charge of this foundation that operated the mill often told the miller that the main reason the mill was there in the first place was because the house, and house tours to little old ladies was the most important reason for their existence. The conference laster for three days and no one I knew claimed to see or meet this miller. The Mabry Mill which is the most photographed mill in the United States the miller's main job is not interpretation but to sell paper sacks of flour that is commercially made in two other mills. So I guess when it comes down to it the mill interpretation it is only as good as the person doing it, and it is dictated by the people paying the pay checks.

A lot of mills, it seems has no formal interpretation in evidence. Visitors just walk through the mill. I have been to several mills in a state park systems that is run proudly by the efforts of volunteers, and I have been there many times, and no one contacts you directly to ask you even if you have any questions. Perhaps operated by volunteers only means locking and unlocking the door and turning on the water wheel to idle the machinery. Some mill's interpretation is poor at best. I had to walk away because sometimes the interpreter presents miss information, and you can't tell them any different. Some mill's interpretation is only done by a park ranger (National Park Service or a state system) only at certain times or when they are available. Other than that you just walk through on your own. I guess I have been to more mills and asked questions of the mill owner or the people who work there. This is basically how I first began learning about mills.

Then there are the mills where no one is there. You have to form your own interpretation. Play act as Sherlock Holmes and deduce the history of the mill on your own. It is sort of like presenting and interpretive talk in an interpretive class without have the mill there as a backup or having the graphics that you desperately need to explain something. I have done this many times and I wish millstones were lighter and much more easier to move around that they are.

The mill interpretation that I find difficult is where you are separated by a wall or barrier, it is almost like listening to a tape recorded activated button, you can't get close, there is glass, a screen, or you can't ask any questions. Not to mention there is too many people in the way who just won't move aside. These sites don't really seem like they are in the business of interpretation as much as moving people through. The interpreter stands there and might as well be speaking into a camera lens because there is no connection with the group of visitors. I always try and make eye contact with one or two people when I present a program and try and draw people into that program.

Ivins L. Smith, III, started out in life to be a dairy farmer but has been running a historic mill in northern New Jersey, for many years. Ivins has been doing mill interpretation the longest at the same location, the Cooper Mill, near Chester, New Jersey. Richard Gnatowski, whose first love is working in museum environments, has been the miller at the Grist Mill at the Wayside Inn for also a number of years and he also does a great job of it. I know one or two people who work solely in office environments who can do good mill interpretation when they are dragged out to talk about it in classrooms situations at limited times. I have met and know others who work in mills, but I have not been there to their mill to know if what they do mill interpretation or just run and operate a mill producing flour. I won't say where I have seen the worst mill interpretation. All I will say is that it was in several mills located in the same county. That was some years ago and hopefully things have changed or it was just a bad day when I visited for the interpreter. I think that some of the best mill interpretation that I have done the only prop that I used was a handful of flour.

Advice to Old Mill Interpreters:

Then their is the issue of having in approbate items out of their time for the public to see. This can be simple thinks like eye classes that are not period approbate, to having paper flour sacks that came into existence after 1910. Along with non approbate paper flour sacks can come wire tie closing devices and the wire twisters. A good miller should at least know how to tie a miller's knock on the neck of a flour sack even if the sacks sold to the public are closed differently. That can be an important part of your program and something you could let visitors try is tying a miller's knot. When I worked in one of the commercial mills in Pennsylvania, and any individual or school group walked in on us and they asked the magic question, "Tell us how it works?" The mill owner and the miller who was teaching me would look at me with the expression like, your the college boy or you are suppose to be learning this stuff. (34) So interpretation would instantly become part of my job description. I instinctively knew it was just first or main floor interpretation because we were not a restored mill open to the public. Our stairs and the lighting was such that I could not take the average person who asked beyond the safety of the main floor normally in my on the spot interpretation.

I could sit here and type up all of my years and go through the boxes of interpretive outlines, narratives and programs, typing them up for you to read. Then afterwards I could say learn and read them. Is that what mill interpretation is all about? The problem is also that I could sit down and write a book just about mill interpretation. I have tried in this article to hit up a number of ideas and topics but I know I may have missed something. If I were to write a book about mill interpretation, then each thing or area of importance would have its own chapter, like understanding millstones, millstone quarrying, grinding with millstones, and millstone dressing. Personally I hate to memorize things words for word, and to put other peoples words into my mouth. I also hate giving an interpretive program that is written out and memorized word for word. My mind just has a hard time working like that. Not everyone learns and repeats information in the same manner. Don't leave the mill's interpretation to chance. I had a number of basic programs that I could present to visitors, but I would try and read the visitors interest level to judge which program to present. Several reasons that I would develop new programs was to keep it fresh and for repeat visitors who would say that I heard it all before. Don't present an interpretive program like a tape recorder is playing out the words in your head so that the program can be stopped or altered until the tape runs out. (35) I know the subject inside and out, and in my sleep, and with my eyes closed. (36) It may be like that old saying, "Only good artists make good art teachers, but no good artist should teach." The best mill interpreters that I have know are people who know how a mill operates first and can successful work and make their living solely as a miller. Some people interpretation comes naturally to them, others it is a struggle. I have seen too much misinformation put into milling books by people who just don't know any better, or try and find the correct information. I have seem too many mills restored wrong rather than right. So do your best, don't be afraid to say I don't know, but you can ask so and so, or give me your name and number and I will research that for you. Then it finally comes down to if the visitor may not remember your words that you said? The sad thing is that I have known interpreters who loose sleep and get ulcers over worrying about people remembering what they said in their programs. The visitor many only go away and carry with them for years the experience of being in the mill and the machinery operating. I guess as long as the miller does his job the best that they can, and maintains the mill the way it should be. Your face and what you may say may be lost in the memory in a short time. They are going to remember the gears and wheels turning, the smells and the sounds of the water, the machinery and the smells of the grain being ground.

I have been told from the powers to-be that I should answer the telephone within three rings no matter where I was or what I was doing at the time. Some interpreters would tell you they don't interrupt their own interpretive program once it has started for no one or anything, come back when I am finished. A good miller may be sound asleep, or have a mill full of a hundred of more visitors doing interpretation with the mill operating and grind flour and meal while they are bagging flour. But all the time the sounds of the machinery is in the back of their head, and the least bit of a sound of something wrong or out of place, and they instantly know it. Starting and stopping the mill for various reasons to repair and fix it can become part of your instant interpretation as to what is going on at the time. You can't say that you are going to start you car and if the engine makes noise you will look at it after you reach your destination. Your motor may be shot for all times if you work on that plan of operation. Create a program about fixing and repairing the mill that is as much of living history in a mill as when it operates.

When I worked at Peirce Mill for 11 years my position was that of a mill operator, I just became an interpreter by default. I was the best one who could explain what was happening because I know how it worked the best. So may be only good millers make good mill interpreters. Who knows, I have know millers as well as artist who won't tell you what or why they are doing something. It is just not part of their nature to explain things or give information to others. The problem with millers is that they are generally free thinkers and hate being told what to do. It is just a part of the nature of the job that makes them what they are. Where does a good interpreter fit into that mix? One of the common questions I was always asked was if I was like the miller in Canterbury Tales? Anyone who has read Canterbury Tales knows what a bad miller is about. (37) When it comes down to it, the best mill interpretation is done by the mill itself. The only help it need was from me to keep it in running order. I could not have explained it in better words than what the mill itself uses to delight the senses.

All presentations dealing with history and operation must meet criteria for honesty as well as accuracy. Specifically the following:

1. The presentations or demonstrations are not described or advertised as portraying "the past" but as limited illustrations of some scattered elements of previous activity, skills or crafts.

2. The 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.

3. 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.

4.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."

5. 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.

6. Finally not every park or site needs living history for effective interpretation. (38)
Historic places and old mills have powerful stories to tell, but they cannot speak for themselves. Since Freeman Tilden mentions the the Peirce Mill grinding corn meal along Rock Creek, I always have like to think that in "Interpreting Our Heritage," he is mainly talking about old mills. (39) Freeman Tilden who defined interpretation as "an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by first-hand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information." (40) For Freeman Tilden, the goal of interpretation is "provocation." Good interpretation raises questions and encourages visitors to seek for themselves the information they need to understand what they are seeing. He emphasizes that understanding leads to appreciation, which, in turn, leads to Mills are historic resources possess meanings and have significance. Many visitors who come to a mill may have a connection to mills in their past life experiences, and are remembering something of value for themselves and their children and grandchildren. For the miller and the old mill, interpretation, then, facilitates a connection between the interests of the visitor and the meanings of the resource. (41) If I were to write a definition of the word interpretation is would include something to the effect that the aim of interpretation is to create a new way of seeing or understanding the familiar and unknown. To me that is what interpretation is all about. (42)


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 produced 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?
(2) 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," July 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.
(3) 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.

(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 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 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 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?"

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.

(18) 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. 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: 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 and read it enough 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." Synopsis: (Pancakes, Pancakes!, by Eric Carle, Scholastic Inc., New York,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!

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.
(25) 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, 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.

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.

(30) 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.

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 of course 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 the 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).
(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.

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 1893 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. 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) Were 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. Somehow 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.

Selected Readings on Living History Interpretation:

William T. Alderson and Shirley Payne Low, "Interpretation of Historic Sites," Nashville, American Association for State and Local History, 1985.

Jay Anderson, "A Living History Reader. Volume One: Museums," Nashville, American Association for State and Local History, 1991.

Jay Anderson, "The Living History Sourcebook," Nashville, American Association for State and Local History, 1985.

Jay Anderson, "Time Machines: The World of Living History," Nashville, American Association for State and Local History, 1984.

Larry Beck, Ted Cable, "Interpretation for the 21st Century, Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture," Sagamore Publishing, Inc., 1997.

Donald H. Ecroyd, "Living History," Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1990.

Donald H. Ecroyd, "Talking with Young Visitors in the Parks," Eastern National Park & Monument Association, 1989.

Alison L. Grinder, and E. Sue McCoy. "The Good Guide: A Source Book for Interpreters, Docents and Tour Guides," Scottsdale, Arizona, Ironwood Press,1985.

John D. Krugler, "Behind the Public Presentations: Research and Scholarship at Living History Museums of Early America," William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series 48, July 1991, pages 347-386.

Barry Mackintosh, "Interpretation in the National Park Service: A Historical Perspective,". Washington, DC, History Division, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 1986.
Interior, 1986.

Janice Majewski, "Part of Your General Public is Disabled: A Handbook for Guides in Museums, Zoos, and Historic Houses," Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987.

National Register of Historical Places, CRM Archive Issue Volume 16 Number 02, "Teaching with Historic Places." Note: This issue contains all of the articles in a single text only PDF file. 1."Anatomy of A Book - The Great Landmarks Adventure," by Kay D. Weeks.
2. "Archeological Public Education Program," by Ruthann Knudson.
3. "Being Selective: Documents and Lesson Plans," by Marilyn Harper.
4. "Creating A Partnership: Heritage Education for the Schools," by Carol D. Shull.
5. "Creating Lesson Plans for Teaching With Historic Places,"by Fay Metcalf.
6. "Heritage Education - What Is Going On There?" by Kathleen Hunter.
7. "Notes on Location and Place," by Salvatore J. Natoli,
8. " Parks As Classrooms to Date - Just Scratching the Surface," by Bob Huggins.
9. "Prominent Places for Historic Places: K-12 Social Studies Curriculum," by John J. Patrick
10. "Teacher Training for Teaching With Historic Places," by Charles S. White.
11. "Teaching With Historic Places - Where Did History Happen?" by Beth M. Boland.
National Register of Historical Places, CRM Archive Issue Volume 23, Number 08, "Creative Teaching with Historic Places." Note: This issue contains all of the articles in a single text only PDF file. 01 "History in the Hands of Tomorrow's Citizens," by Carol D. Shull; Beth M. Boland.
02 "On-Site Learning-The Power of Historic Places," by James Oliver Horton.
03 "Visualizing History-Inquiring Minds Want to Know," by Beth M. Boland.
04 "Sources, Sites, and Standards," by Lee Ann Potter.
05 "Creating Place-Based Classroom Resources-Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans," by Brenda Kelley Olio.
06 "It's History "Just for Kids," by Sherrie Casad-Lodge.
07 "Writing a TwHP Lesson Plan-A View from the Gaylord Building," by Dennis H. Cremin.
08 "A Blast from the Past-Using Historic Sites to Enliven History," by James A. Percoco.
09 "Teaching with Historic Places in the Classroom," by Kay Kevan Callentine.
10 "Arizona Students Learn from a Georgia Civil War Prison," by Patricia Stanley.
11 "The Community as Classroom," by Bill Gulde.
12 "Seeing Is Believing-TwHP Field Studies," by Marilyn Harper.
13 "Response Form."
14 "TwHP and Local History-A Positive Partnership," by Patricia L. Duncan.
15 "Preparing Teachers to Teach with Historic Places," by Charles S. White; Deborah J. D. White.
16 "Collaboration in Teaching with Historic Places," by Marla Miller; Bonnie Parsons.
17 "Solving Local History's Mysteries-Researching Buildings for Fifth-Grade Teaching," by Rosalyn S. Cohen
18 "The Real Thing in the Right Place," by Bob Huggins.
19 "Teaching with Historic Places in the Parks," by Alan Marsh; Marc Blackburn; Noelle Conrad; Janice Frye
20 "Curriculum Connections-Making the Most of National Park Experiences," by Patti Reilly.
21 "Teaching with Historic Places Makes a Splash on the Web," by Theresa Campbell-Page; William Wright
22 "Links" to Education," by S. Terry Childs
23 "Developing the Next Generation of Preservation Professionals," by Antoinette J. Lee.
24 "Teaching with the National Register of Historic Places," by Carol D. Shull.
Kathleen Regnier, Michael Gross, and Ron Zimmerman, "The Interpreter's Guidebook: Techniques for Programs and Presentations," Interpreter's Handbook Series, Stevens Point, Wisconsin: UW-SP Foundation Press, 1994.

Vic. Sussman, "From Williamsburg to Conner Prairie: Living History Museums Bring Bygone Days to Life but Not Always Accurately," U.S. News and World Report 107:4, July 24, 1989, pages 58-62.

Ron Thomson, Interpretive Consultant, Oneonta, New York, and Marilyn Harper, Historian, National Park Service, "Telling the Stories: Planning Effective Interpretive Programs for Properties Listed in the National Register of Historic Places," U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 2000.

Freeman Tilden, "Interpreting Our Heritage," Chapel Hill, North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 1984, 1st edition 1957.

David Uzzell, editor, "Heritage Interpretation," 2 Volumes, New York and London, Belhaven Press, 1989.

Copyright 2001 by T. R. Hazen