Interpretation for Old Mills
(1) From Chapter 3, "History of Delaware County, New York,"
by Jay Gould, 1856. When a lad of a dozen years, his father packed him off
to this mill, the first he had ever visited, upon horseback, with small
grist to be converted into flour for the consumption of the family. The
father, before he left, impressed upon the mind of the young lad the necessity
of watching the miller pretty closely, remarking, "that millers sometimes
steal." This caution placed the young boy on his guard, and sure enough,
shortly after the grist had been emptied into the hopper he saw the miller
go to a small bin nearby, and taking a measure, filled it from the grain
in the hopper, and, emptied it back into the bin. The boy kept watch, and
when the miller's back was turned, he filled the measure out of the bin,
and emptied it back into the hopper, replacing what he supposed the miller
had intended to steal. To use his own words, he said: "I felt really
proud of what I had done, and when I returned home that night I related
to my father what had transpired at the mill, telling him that the miller
did not get much the best of me, for he struck the measure full he took
out of the hopper, while I heaped up the one I put in: that he was a big
thief for there was a large bin full of grain, which I felt sure he had
stolen in like manner. My father laughed heartily over the joke, and then
explained to me that this was the way they were paid for the use of the
(2) This article entitled "A Haunted Maryland Mill" appeared
in the Oct. 1, 1888 edition of the "American Miller" magazine:
A Haunted Maryland Mill.
Not far from Westminster, Md. a beautiful stream makes its way between high
hills and densely wooded valleys until it reaches a spot between two lofty
summits. Across this valley many years ago was built a dam 30 feet high.
Not far below is the old-fashioned mill, whose water wheel is never still,
but turning ceaselessly, makes music for the old miller, who still plies
his trade as though, almost within hearing, stream flour mills did not turn
out 1,000 barrels of flour every day. Passing by the mill a few days ago,
the Herald correspondent was startled by the silence of the old mill, and
entered to inquire the cause. To his question as to whether he was going
to give up the mill, the old man replied:
"Oh! No, but don't you know that this evening the August moon will
"Certainly, but why should the moon's getting full stop your mill?"
asked the newspaper man.
"Well, sir, I will tell you," said the miller. "Many years
ago, one of the most reckless and dare-devil fellows in this country laid
a wager that he would on horseback ride down and capture a fox that had
baffled hunters and hounds in every chase even if he were compelled to ride
into the other world. On the morning following the full moon in August,
1840, the body of the young farmer, whose name I will not mention, for his
children and grandchildren live not far from this place, and are among the
most respected people in the community, was found on the banks of the dam.
Just below him lay his horse, and young man, I tell you, you don't see such
horses around here now-she as a beauty. Both were dead. How it all happened
no one knew and for a year the mystery remained unsolved, but on the night
of the full moon in August, 1841, I was running the mill, and about midnight
a feeling of the desolateness of the place came over me. I had never been
lonely before. The dog, which always slept on the porch, came to my door
whining, and when I let him in he crawled under my bed. The noise of the
rushing water and the turning of the wheel drowned all sounds from without,
and although my nervousness continued, throughout the night until day dawned,
I could not account for my condition. In the morning I was ashamed to speak
to anyone of my experience, and in a few weeks it was forgotten.
"This same experience was repeated for five successive years before
I began to associate it with the August full moon. Then when I began to
feel the sensation of loneliness and fear, I went to the door of the mill
and looked toward the dam. The night was a perfect one. Just overhead hung
the full moon, and glistening like burnished silver under her rays I could
follow with my eye for many hundred yards the winding course of the stream.
While I was looking far up the west side of the stream, I saw a moving object,
which rapidly drew near. As it appeared, I beheld a sight which filled me
with horror and held me motionless. Both horse and rider were as white as
the morning mist, but from their eyes fire seemed to flash, and in the man
I recognized Jack (I had almost mentioned his name), who was found dead
six years before. As they reached the breast of the dam, I saw just before
the ghostly rider a fox running a zigzag course, as though seeking to avoid
capture. Across the dam they flew until about midway: then I saw the rider
lean forward, as with a muttered curse, and strange to say, I could distinctly
hear his words--he swore that he would capture the animal if he had to follow
it to the lower regions.
"Just then the fox leaped far out into the water, and horse and rider
followed close upon him. As they sank beneath the water I lost consciousness
and knew no more until in the morning a farmer came to the mill for flour.
Since that night, there is not enough money in the world to keep me in this
mill after nightfall at the time of the full moon in August. It is growing
near sunset now, and if you will excuse me I must get ready to go, but if
you would like you can spend the night in the mill and take a look at the
ghostly horseman, and I hope you will enjoy his visit."
The invitation was declined, and the visitor passed the evening in calling
on a number of farmers in the neighborhood, all of whom expressed belief
in the miller's story, and a number told of belated travelers who had seen
the phantom hunter.
(3) One of the classic stories is of the Fincastle Mill. It was so haunted
no one ever set foot in the mill after dark. This is the story of one girl
who dared to defend herself from a leering Brownie.
A young girl on the eve of her wedding day is baking her wedding cake, and
she runs out of flour. So she goes down to the mill to get some more flour,
but by the time she arrives at the mill the miller has gone home for the
day. The mill stands dark and silent, she has always heard stories of the
brownie who lives in the mill and protects the mill from harm. The young
girl desperately needs more flour for her wedding cake so she goes into
the mill in search of some ground flour. It is so dark in the mill that
she lights a fire in the mill's fireplace to see her way around. As the
fire begins to burn she swings the huge pot of water back over the fire
to get it out of the way. Then she begins to search the sacks standing on
end for ground flour for her wedding cake. The young girl looks into every
sack but all she can find in unground grain. So she decides that she must
start the mill and grind some wheat into flour if she is to have any this
night to make her wedding cake for tomorrow.
The young girl lifts up a sack of grain and pours it into the millstone
hopper. Then she pulls down on the gate arm that lets water onto the wheel.
Very soon the water wheel begins to turn and the gears in the mill's dark
basement also turn the millstones and soon flour begins flowing into the
bin. In a short time there is enough flour to sift it by hand into the other
bin. Usually the miller never works into the hours of darkness, and so the
young brownie that watches over the mill at night for the miller. The brownie,
with the face and looks only a mother brownie could love, goes about the
mill to see what is going on. He knows that the miller is not usually here
in the mill at this time of the night. Up stairs on the main floor of the
mill he finds a strange looking person. So he walks over to that person,
and asks her in his horrible sound voice, "Who are you?"
The young girl is almost frightened to death by this appearance of this
ugly brownie, but she is a fast thinker on her feet and out of the blue
she answers, "Me myself!"
The brownie is a most ugly creature that is mostly covered in all over with
hair instead of clothing. It has an ugly face with a big ugly noise and
long thin arms and fingers so it can reach into cracks and collect the miller's
mite for the miller.
Upon hearing the strange response, "Me myself!" The brownie had
to stopped to think. Perhaps I did not hear her correctly? Did I understand
her correctly? "Me myself," is a strange sounding name. Perhaps
I should ask this creature again what who are you? So the brownie gets a
bit closer to the young girl but not realizing that he is making her all
the more afraid again asks her in his best sounding horrible voice, "Who
The young girl is become more afraid for her life, and begins to back up
but she quickly answers the brownie again with, "Me myself!"
The brownie is now even more confused, what sort of name is "Me Myself?"
I think I may have mill water in my ears and just did not hear her correctly,
so I perhaps had better ask her once more who this creature is. So again
in the voice that sounds like iron spikes being yanked from wood, the brownie
asked the strange creature, "Who are you?"
By now the brownie has a hold of the gown of the young girl that she has
backed up almost into the fireplace. Then again she cried out, "Me
myself!" The brownie begins to shake his head back and forth. The young
girl turns and grabs the pot of water which by now is boiling and throws
it onto the brownie, who runs out of the mill screaming. The young brownie
runs all the way home streaming into the darkness of the night. He then
lays at home in his bed dying from his mortal wounds, as his mother tries
to comfort her dying son. The mother brownie asks him, "Who did this
to you my beloved son?"
As the son of the mother brownie lays in his bed slowly dying from his burns,
he answers his mother, "Me myself!"
Shortly afterwards the brownie dies. The young girl now has her flour for
her wedding cake and gets married the next day. Years pass by and the young
girl enjoys telling the story of how she forded the brownie on her wedding
eve, and got flour for her wedding cake. One day she was telling the story
once again to her friends, when the mother brownie (remember the mother
brownie?) was walking by an open window and over heard the young girl telling
the story once again that explained the killing her son. The mother brownie
was so outraged upon hearing that this strange looking person caused the
death of her beloved son that as she looked around she grabbed the first
thing she saw was a three legged stool. The mother brownie then tossed it
as hard as she could through the open window. It hit the young girl on the
head and killed her dead on the spot.
Question: So what does the story tell you?
Answers: Don't go around the mill at night or the brownie will get you.
You can't have your cake and eat it too!
(4) Eugene S. Ferguson, "The Legacy of Oliver Evans," editorial
notes, pages 357-8, AIPLA Bulletin, September-October 1986, America Intellectual
Property Law Association, Inc., first published Fully, Freely, & Entirely,
Delaware Heritage Commission, Volume 2, Number 2, Summer 1986.
(5) Jacob Franklin Abbott, "The Apprentice Boy," New York:
Harper & Brothers, 1855, 160 pages, illustrated with engravings. A child's
biography of Benjamin Franklin, in the "Harper's Story Book" series.
(6) An indenture is a legal document. It is contract between two
or more parties. It was a legal binding document a step beyond a gentleman's
agreement. Sometimes indentures were made for the building of a mill between
the owner of the mill and the mill builder or millwright. The would be affixed
with the proper stamps (tax stamps) and seals. Such contracts between master
and apprentice would bind the two together in an indenture or into a legal
agreement. So when the apprentice ran away, the apprentice was breaking
a legal document between the master and apprentice.
(7) Now if you read both versions from different books published almost
100 years apart, you can compare and contracts. What is the miller's most
important duties of being a miller and working in the mill. Actually if
you read both they are very similar, so perhaps then the millers job did
not all that much change with technology? "The Young Mill-Wright and
Miller's Guide," still mentions the use of branding irons but other
than that they are almost the same.
"The Duty of the Miller," from Chapter XVIII, "Directions
for keeping the Mill, and the business of it, in good order." Article
116. The Duty of the Miller, from "The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's
Guide," by Oliver Evans.
The mill is supposed to be completely finished for for merchant work,
on the new plan; supplied with a stock of grain, flour casks, nails, brushes,
picks, shovels, scales weights, etc., when the millers enter on their duty.
If there be two of them capable of standing watch, or taking charge of the
mill, the time is generally divided as follows. In the day-time they both
attend to business, but one of them has the chief direction. The night is
divided into two watches, the first of which ends at one o'clock in the
morning, when the master miller should enter on his watch, and continue
till day-light, that he may be ready to direct other hands to their business
early. The first thing he should do, when his watch begins, is to see whether
the stone are grinding, and the cloths bolting well. And, secondly, he should
review all the moving gudgeons of the mill, to see whether any of them want
grease, etc.; for want of this, the gudgeons often run dry, and heat, which
bring on heavy losses in time and repairs; for when they heat, they get
a little loose, and the stones they run on crack, after which they cannot
be kept cool. He should also see what quantity of grain is over the stones,
and if there be not enough to supply them till morning, set the cleaning
machines in motion.
All things being set right, his duty is very easy- he has only to see the
machinery, the grinding, and bolting, once in an hour; he has, therefore,
plenty of time to amuse himself by reading, or otherwise.
Early in the morning all the floors should be swept, and the flour dust
collected; the casks nailed, weighted, marked, and branded, and the packing
begun, that it may be completed in the fore part of the day; by this means,
should any unforeseen thing occur, there will be spare time. Besides, to
leave packing till the afternoon, is a lazy practice, and keeps the business
out of order.
When the stones are to be sharpened, every thing necessary should be prepared
before the mill is stopped, (especially if there be but one pair of stones
to a water wheel) that as little time as possible may be lost; the picks
should be made quite sharp, and not be less than 12 in number. Things being
ready, the miller is then to take up the stone; set one hand to each, and
dress them as soon as possible, that they may be set to work again; not
forgetting to grease the gearing and spindle foot.
In the after part of the day, a sufficient quantity of grain is to be cleaned
down, to supply the stones the whole night; because it is best to have nothing
more to do in the night, than attend to the grinding, bolting, gudgeons,
"The Duty of the Miller," pages 89 to 91, from "The Miller,
Millwright's and Engineer's Guide," by Henry Pallett, Henry Carey Baird
& Company, Philadelphia, 1890. "
We suppose that the mill, in all its various departments, is completely
finished and ready for grinding, and supplied with a stock of grain, flour
barrels, nails, brushes, picks, shovels, scales, weights, etc., when the
millers enter upon their duty (properly speaking: I have therefore thought
it both right and proper, in a work of this kind, to add the following remarks,
in order to show of what the duty consists.
In a large mill, where three millers are employed, there should be one head
miller, to whom is entrusted the whole management of the mill, and who directs
the other millers and work hands about the mill the work they have to do.
The head miller should be at the mill early in the morning, and take, charge
of it during the day;see that every part of the mill is doing its work properly
before he leaves at night, and that there is sufficient wheat cleaned to
last throughout the night, as the other millers, when on watch during the
night time, should have nothing else to attend to by the grinding and bolting.
In the day time, however, it is best to take up one pair of stones daily
and have them dressed. The head miller can test the face of the stones with
the staff, and give instructions to the other millers in which way he wishes
them dressed; while in this manner, each of the other millers dresses a
stone in his watch. The night is divided into two watches, the first of
which ends at one o'clock in the morning, and belongs to the second miller;
the third miller then takes the watch, and continues on till one o;clock
in the day.
When the mill has only two millers, one of these is called the head miller,
being responsible for all the work done in the mill; therefore, he should
have full management of it, and his instructions the second miller should
observe attentively, and do the work accordingly, The head miller should,
however, consult and be agreeable with his partner; thus they will work
cheerfully and pleasantly together, each taking his watch, and having charge
of the mill, time and time about.
The miller should not be entirely governed by the mill owner as to the time
the stones should be dressed, the owner often wishing them to run a long
time without dressing, thereby loosing no time in the working, but very,
very often loosing a great deal otherwise by spoiling the flour. A miller
should therefore, stipulate to have it in his power to take up the stones
and dress them whenever he thinks they want it.
The mill should be kept clean, as nothing looks much worse than a dirty
To make the machinery run easy and smooth, the cogs should be well greased
with a mixture of black lead and tallow every day, and the gudgeons should
be oiled in each watch. A few drops of oil are better than pouring on a
large quantity; when a few drops only are applied, they stop there and serve
for purpose, whereas a large quantity runs off, is wasted, and creates dirt
and filth. When a large gudgeon takes to heating, it is often stopped by
laying a piece of rusty bacon on the top. The cause of the gudgeon heating
is from the friction of the parts rubbing together, and the velocity with
which the move. If grease will not stop heating, cause a small quantity
of water to drop on the gudgeon, but not so much as to destroy the polish
made by the grease.
If the owner of the mill is not a practical miller himself, yet he may form
some idea of the capability of the miller from examining the quality of
the flour made; if it is white and free from specks, and the offal light
and clean, he may feel satisfied that the mill is doing good work.
(8) Three sources:
Once a mill hand came to a miller and asked him for work, saying that
he had been underway a long time and wanted to earn a few kreutzers once
again. The miller liked the mill hand, for he was a quick and lively fellow.
He would have given him work at once if it hadn't been for an unusual concern
He scratched himself behind the ears for a while and then slowly expressed
his opinion: "Yes, I need a mill hand, and I'm not likely to find a
better one than you, but there is another problem."
"What sort of one? asked the miller boy hurriedly.
"Now you may not believe me, but what I'm going to say is the truth.
Every time I have had a mill hand sleep in the mill, the next morning he
was discovered dead. I've not been able to find out what is behind this,
but that's the way it is."
It has never occurred to me that I should be afraid of someone," replied
the mill hand, laughing. "Let me have a go at it. I am not by nature
"It would be a shame to lose your young life," said the miller.
"No one else has escaped alive. You won't be any different."
"The long and short of it is that I am not afraid. Give me work, and
I'll stay with you."
"If you are willing to gamble with your life, then stay. It will serve
you right," replied the miller, half pleased and half angry.
The new mill hand went into the mill and worked in spite of it all.
When night fell he lay down a bit, but he did not let himself fall asleep,
looking and looking to see what might be haunting the mill. Suddenly a large,
beautiful cat crept up to him, meowed, arched its back, wagged its tail,
and continued to creep around the mill hand. It was all he could do to ward
off the uncanny animal. When he realized that "Get!" and "Scat!"
and such sayings were to no avail, he became angry, grabbed the cat by its
tail and hurled it a good distance from him. With that the cat slunk out
The mill hand thought to himself, "Just dare to come back!" and
lay back down and slept without further disturbance.
Early the next morning the miller came, expecting to see the mill hand's
corpse. Was he surprised when the boy approached him, singing and whistling,
and told him the story of the cat.
As evening was approaching the mill hand fetched a little hatchet and hid
it in his bed. Night soon came. The boy lay down, and again the cat crept
up to him meowing. This time the mill hand did not shoo it away, but was
nice to it and attempted to lure it closer and closer to him. When it was
standing right next to his bed, he quickly pulled out the hatchet and with
a laugh chopped off one of its front paws. With pitiful meows the cat hobbled
on three legs out the door.
Early the next morning the miller came again to see how the boy had fared.
The latter had scarcely come into his master's view when he joyfully cried
out, "Just see what the beast left behind! It will never come to me
again!" With these words he showed the miller the paw that he had chopped
off the cat.
The miller had a good laugh and could not have been more pleased with his
new mill hand. After laughing his fill, he went about his business, and
the morning passed like any other, although the master did wonder why his
wife was nowhere to be seen.
Noontime came, and there was still no fire in the kitchen. The master finally
lost his patience, and he shouted everywhere for his "old woman."
But she neither came nor answered. Finally the miller went upstairs to the
bedroom where he found his wife still in bed.
"What you are doing? It is noontime already, and there is not even
a piece of kindling burning yet in the kitchen."
"I can't cook today. Something is wrong with me."
The miller was curious what was wrong with her, noticing that she was holding
her hands in a strange manner. Then he suddenly saw that one of her hands
had been cut off.
"Aha," he thought to himself, "so that is what's wrong with
Angrily he ran down the stairs and told the mill hand what had happened.
The mill hand also perceived immediately that the cat had been none other
than the master's wife, and that she was a wicked witch.
Source: Ignaz and Joseph Zingerle, Kinder- und Hausmärchen,
gesammelt durch die Brüder Zingerle (Innsbruck: Verlag der Wagner'schen
Buchhandlung, 1852), no. 39, pp. 251-254.
In a village there was a mill. The miller could no longer get anyone
to work for him, because several workers had died in the mill in a mysterious
One day a mill hand came to the miller and asked about work. The miller
said that he desperately needed a helper, but he had to tell him that things
were not exactly right in his mill. The mill hand was an outgoing fellow,
and he asked the master to hire him, saying that he would deal with the
spook. The master agreed to this.
That night the mill hand went into the mill, taking a sword with him. At
the strike of midnight a wet cat crept through a hole into the mill and
sat down next on the stove bench. After it had sat there a while and second
cat came, and then a third one, and they took places next to the first cat.
And then a miracle! The more they warmed themselves, the larger they grew.
Then the first cat said, "Shall we? Shall we?"
The next one answered, "Eeow!"
And the third one, "Get him!"
Then all three, each with a powerful leap, jumped at the mill hand, hissing
and spitting, and with angry sparks spraying from their eyes.
The mill hand did not stand idly by. With his sword he cut off a leg of
the first cat, and it began to cry pitifully. Then all three cats hurriedly
slipped out the same hole through which they had entered.
He picked up the leg, and it was a human hand with a gold ring on one finger.
He wrapped it in a cloth. The next morning he took it to the master and
told him of the adventure that he had withstood. The latter was very pleased
to hear this, for he hoped that the spook would no longer be interested
At breakfast the master said to his mill hand, "My wife is very ill."
The mill hand wanted to see her, claiming that in some regards he knew just
as much as a doctor. The miller led him to the room where his wife was lying.
The mill worker said, "Show me your right hand!" The woman showed
him her left hand.
The mill worker said again, "No, show me the right one!" but she
Then the mill hand unwrapped the severed hand from the cloth and held it
out. The woman began to shake like aspen leaves. Her face became distorted;
and with moans and groans she confessed that she was a witch and that she
had been the cat. She also named her two accomplices. And then she died
a horrible death.
Since then nothing unusual has happened at the mill.
Source: Karl Gander, Niederlausitzer Volkssagen, vornehmlich aus
dem Stadt- und Landkreise Guben (Berlin: Deutsche Schriftsteller-Genossenschaft,
1894), no. 75, pp. 29-30.
(45) My favorite Revolutionary War story that concerns a mill, is
one from the Old Mill of Guilford, that was founded in North Carolina, on
Beaver Creek built in 1767. The mill stands in Guilford County, Oak Ridge,
North Carolina. In 1767 Daniel Dillon built a small tub mill on Beaver Creek.
On February 10, 1781, during the Revolutionary War, British troops under
General Cornwallis marched past the mill in pursuit of General Green who
was encamped at Guilford Courthouse. Legend has it that British troops seized
the mill to grind grain for the soldiers prior to the Battle of Guilford
Courthouse on March 15, 1781.
The story goes that Daniel Dillon's son, James was operating the mill at
this time during the Revolutionary War. One night James woke up suddenly
in a cold sweat from a bad nightmare. He told his wife that he had a bad
dream, in which, he dreamed that his right big toe was burning. His wife
took it as a bad omen, saying you had better put on your pants at once and
go down to check on the mill. When James Dillon got down to the mill, he
found that it had been taken over by British troops, who had taken over
the mill and were using it to grind their grain. James being a good Quaker
just began waving his hands in the air saying something like, this is my
mill what are you doing? The British troops upon hearing this wild man who
came screaming out of the darkness of the night, turned around and with
their rifles began shooting at poor James. James Dillon jumped behind the
closest tree to avoid being hit by the rifle fire. The only problem was
that his right foot was leaking out from behind the tree, and he got shot
in the very toe that he, a short while before had dreamed it was burning.
When the British troops finished grinding their grains they left poor James
Dillon and his mill alone. The usual custom was when the occupying army
would take over a mill after they ground all of their's and the mill's grain,
they would torch the mill and burn it to the ground. James Dillon (minus
his right big toe) and his mill were spared.
In 1898 Joel Sanders purchased the mill for $900 dollars. In 1819, Sanders
moved the mill 500 feet down stream and built a new dam across the creek,
which increased the millpond to 10 acres. The new mill was designed as a
merchant corn and wheat mill with an overshot wheel to replace the small
(public grist) tub mill.
(46) The problems with additives (preservatives) or processed foods,
is that they are made white, refined and keep able. White comes from the
idea, if it is white it must be clean. Before the days of grain cleaning
machinery in the milling industry could not remove: dirt, seeds, fungus,
smut, sticks, straw, chaff, stones, animal dropping and manure. The rich
or better class of people people got white flour and white bread. The poor
received the brown flour and brown bread. If you read the book: "Bread
of Dreams," it talks about such thing as fungus ergot and mid-evil
period additive opium in bread. The age old problem is that white flour
makes white faces. The peasant class problem was, if starvation did not
kill you eating the bread could. Brown bread was also called "dog bread,"
because it was not fit to feed dogs.
The "Bread of Dreams" is set in pre-modern Southern Europe, focusing
not on aristocrats but rather on ordinary folk: peasants, city-dwellers,
and the many beggars and poor people of Italy and to a lesser degree, France.
Europeans lived in various ongoing states of "collective vertigo,"
hallucination and illness brought on by starvation or the eating of tainted
foodstuffs, commonplace at that time. This state of affairs was promoted
and exacerbated by various medical, social, and religious establishments.
The medical establishments codified the foods 'medically' appropriate for
rich and poor, resulting in additional loss of life. Hunger was the central
organizing principle in the lives of so many. The notorious famine years
were times of acute rather than chronic starvation, and "incredible
and repugnant substances" were often eaten, often with fatal results.
The "terrible noises, worms, vermin, ghosts and goblins," opiates,
visions, toxic brews, exorcisms, violence, and always death and more death.
The luddite movement started by a "so-called" insane person (a
Leicestershire textile worker) named Nathan Ludd who in 1779 stated a revolt
against mechanization and industrialization by destroying mill's machinery.
A luddite belief being that new technology and increased industrialization
or the introduction of this new technology was evil to persons and workers
in these mills. The luddite movement occurred in England, and here in America
in New England. To learn more about the Luddites go to: Luddites
The Reverend Sylvester Graham believed if technology can be evil, then also
the products of this new technology also can be evil. In the end of the
1700's Oliver Evans developed his improvements in the flour milling industry
that increased the production of merchant super-fine white flour. Sylvester
Graham believed that God meant us to eat grain whole, and that sifting out
the bran and other parts of grains was against the will of God. Graham also
did some looking into the history of bread production and discovered such
things as back in 1421 there were court cases in Europe where bakers were
putting chemicals into bread dough to make it absorb as much water as it
could possibly absorb. So the bakers were not selling loaves of bread but
fancy disguised loaves of water. Graham was big into his ideas also relating
to white, refined and keep able food products. His ideas started the grahamite
movement which was really the first vegetarian movement, where you don't
eat: meat, fish, poultry, drink alcohol, drink only water and sleep with
the window open even in the winter. Graham would travel America giving lectures
of the subject and evils of refined foods. The large baking companies would
stand out side of his hotel protesting is actions, until they realized that
he had become so popular, they could go back home and make knock off's of
his products and become rich. From Sylvester Graham is where Graham Bread
and Graham Crackers come from. Today in stores are sold only bastardized
version of his original products.
Sylvester Graham's ideas were embraced by the Shakers and the Seventh Day
Adventist. The Shakers, Seventh Day Adventists and the Mormons all began
as a reaction to the Luddite movement. The Reverend Sylvester Graham and
the Seventh Day Adventists believed that the main cause insanity was the
consumption of white flour. Only the rich people went insane and they only
had access to white bread. Soldiers when they went to war, ate only white
flour, and war was an insane act, so white flour, caffeine, white sugar
were something to avoid. The Seventh Day Adventist moved to Battle Creek
and built the Western Heath Institute in 1867. The main treatment of the
insane was to feed them whole grains and things like oat meal. Sister Mary
Ellen White then made Doctor John Harvey Kellogg head the the institute
because she thought that he would be the new Messiah of the movement. Dr.
Kellogg adopted 42 children and never consummated his marriage because he
believed that sex was a drain on society. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg also believed
if it tastes good you should not be eating it. If it tastes like crap it
must be good for you. Dr. Kellogg invented a number of foods including the
corn, wheat, bran flake, various kinds of cereals and a variety of nut butters
so people do not have to eat meat sandwiches. That is another story along
with the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Let me just say, Dr. Kellogg's brother
Will, who was a low level worker in the sanitarium for 40 years, stole his
brother's idea for corn flakes, took out all of the good things and made
his corn flakes out of corn starch, sugar and malt flavoring. Then Will
Kellogg referred to his as the "original." W. Kellogg, and C.W.
Post (a former patient at the sanitarium) also made millions selling carp
that tastes good. See the movie, "Road to Wellsville," with Anthony
Hopkins as Doctor John Harvy Kellogg, to learn who may have been the biggest
flake in Battle Creek. This goes back to the idea of making it white-like,
refined and keep able.
(47) An example of an event that could have happen but would not
have made it into the history books or added to the local folklore is the
At one of the mills that I worked in and i have had a long association with
is F. A. Drake's Mills, Drakes Mills, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. My
father worked on rebuilding the mill dam back in the 1930's. The late Harry
N. Moffatt the former owner and miller in the mill for 55 years, told me
about the carriage house or wheelwright shop that was built over the mill
race. Harry said the carriage house had a large trap door in the floor so
they could drop in wagon wheels so they could heat shrink on a new iron
Harry never said that they ever lost or dropped a wheel off of the chain
that they used to lower and raise it back up into the building. A drama
could be made up about this event. The mill would have to close the head
gates and drain the mill race which would effect the mill's operation. Another
possibility would be the mill race needs to be cleaned out, besides the
miller's helpers who are put to work cleaning the mill race, the mill owner
may feel that some one from the carriage house should also help out. The
carriage house after all cools their metal parts in the mill race or draws
buckets of water from it to fill their slack tubs. If it is not a carriage
house perhaps it is a blacksmith shop located near the mill that uses its
water, and because they provide a service for the mill, the blacksmith feel
they should not be charged for the use of the mill water.
Another occurrence that commonly happens with some mills it to create or
develop a sister mill or a partnership between two mills in a local area
that are located close to each other. Why work against each other for in
business. Drake's Mills was about 4 miles away from Zortman's Flour &
Feed Mill, that was located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The owners of both
mills agreed work together. The unwritten agreement worked like this: If
one mills operation was broken down, the mill moved its grain and material
to the other mill, and that mill would then grind grain for both operations.
The mills could work together and they could order larger quantities of
grain from the suppliers. Some of the grain came by box car to the closest
railroad siding in Cambridge Springs. Each mill would help the other if
needed unload grain onto their trucks and haul it to the separate mills.
The box car would sit on the siding for 3 days, and then afterward we would
be charged a daily rate for keeping the car tied up and off the mainline.
They also could order together, and one of them travel the distance to several
grain dealers to pick up other grains and items needed by both mills. So
what happens if this system begins to break down. A drama could be made
up about this event. Perhaps the second mill breaks down as well, or it
has gone on just too long at one of the mills, and the other is not getting
fixed because of ordering parts.
In the area, was the 5-M Milling Company, the family owned 5 separate mills
in nearby small towns, and their name was Murdock. We never had any dealing
with them, perhaps because they had their own system of sister mills. They
even for a time put out their own monthly newsletter to the local farmers
who were their customers.
An event that Harry Moffatt and his son, Clarence "Red," talked
about that really happened was when the bag dealer wrote them a letter,
and said they were going out of business. In the letter they were told that
the company would sell all of their plates used in printing the bags to
another bag dealer. They were told that their new bag dealer would charge
more than the current price. Do you wish to make an order from us at this
time at the old price per bag the bag manufacturer asked. Generally when
you buy a sack of flour or meal, the most expensive part of that sack is
the price is the cost of the empty sack. The time and labor along with the
price and cost of the grain, and turn it into the final product is much
less than the cost of the sack. This happened when Harry's father-in-law
was still the owner of the mill, Clarence Drake. When Clarence Drake saw
the letter he ordered twice the amount of their normal order, and later
when he brother Elias (other brother Andrew ran the farm) also came across
the letter in the mill's office, he without knowledge of what his brother
did, also ordered twice the order. Everyone was a bit surprised when 4 times
the normal order of bags arrived one day. The Drake brothers operated two
mills one in Drake's Mills, and a second Drake's Mill in Cambridge Springs
that later became Turner's Mill. A drama could be made up about this event.
So what would have happened if someone at Drake's Mill would have contacted
their sister mill, which at that time was one of several mills, either Zortman's
Mill or Keystone Mills both in Edinboro. They could have contacted the person
running the other mill, and that person said order me too twice as much
at my normal order but did not made it clear that this increase was for
anther mill in the area and not for Drake's Mill again.
The same sort of above story scenario could moved back in time a hundred
years or more, to involve the cooper who supplied flour barrels for a mill.
The mill paid the cooper for a set number of barrels but before they are
produced and delivered to the mill, the cooper up and dies. The copper spent
a portion of the money to buy or contract enough materials from another
craftsman who supplied the wood. The cooper may not have employed a qualified
journeyman to finish the order, and the cooper's widow discovers that her
aging husband was more in debt that he told anyone. Now the ships are tied
up at the wharf waiting for barrels of flour, the mill has ground the flour
and it has over filled the bins of the mill with freshly ground flour, but
have no barrels to put it in. There can be more to first person mill interpretation
than just a dishonest miller or someone getting hurt while working in the
(48) Oakford Manor Home Page (United Kingdom) is found the following
dialog: The Honest
Martin: At the last manor court Floyd, Fulton, and James said you were taking
more than a measure of grain from each sack.
Dane: Yes, they said that, but they couldn't prove it! I'm often accused
of stealing from the villains. But I don't take more than what is my right.
Many of the villains don't realize that flour takes up less room in a sack
than does the grain. So the sack looks a lot smaller and they think I have
cheated them. I always take my measure from the sack whey they come for
their flour. I'm not cheating anyone.
Martin: Floyd and James also said that you are mixing barley or oat flour
in with the wheat flour.
Dane: Look, I am an honest, hardworking miller. I only take what is mine
by right. These complaints are because the villains are jealous.............
The mill, our land, and our wealth are ours because my family and I are
hard workers, not because we cheat anyone...........
If anyone is cheating, it is the villains who grind their grain on small
hand mills. By milling their own flour they are robbing Lord Geoffrey and
myself of our due."
(49) From the Library of Congress: The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville
and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920. "The chimney sweep and the miller,"
American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Published by American Mutoscope
and Biograph Company, 1902.
Summary of the film: Filming of a popular vaudeville gag. Opens on
a stage with a painted backdrop of a lake and forest. From opposite sides
of the stage enter a chimney sweep, covered from head to toe with black
soot and carrying a folding broom and black sack of soot on his back, and
a miller, dressed completely in white and carrying a white sack of flour.
The two men bump into each other center stage, with some of the sweep's
soot dirtying the miller's uniform. They exchange angry words, and then
begin hitting each other with their sacks. As expected, black soot from
the chimney sweep's bag spots the miller's whites, and white flour from
the miller's sack lands on the sweep's dark clothing. The brawl culminates
with a large cloud of black and white in which the men seem to disappear.
A chimney sweep and a miller become involved in a street fight. The fight
causes a lively mixup of black and white, with most amusing effects.
This is sort of a takeoff on why the English walk, ride or drive on the
left side of the road so two men passing won't cross swords, and be obligated
to fight a duel.
(50) "The Great Wagon Road, From Philadelphia to the South"
by Park Rouse, Jr., McGraw-Hill, 1973, reprint Dietz Press, New York, 1995,
page 188. This page deals with milling. He mentioned it takes one hour to
grind a bushel of corn. One hour required he must mean the time it takes
for the miller to get around to grind his "turn." A sharpened
pair of millstones can grind a bushel of corn in ten minutes or less. There
is not enough on this page to provide enough information about first person
living history mill interpretation alone.
(51) The folklore about French millstones says that they came to
American as ship's ballast, taken out of ships holds and then made into
millstones. The reality is that they were shipped to America with a "ballast"
rate of shipping. Another folklore about the French millstones is that because
of the pours they could really grind grain without out being dressed, this
may or not be true. Where I come from in northwestern Pennsylvania, if a
mill has French millstones, we would say that they have "froggies in
the mill." Because we associated the French with eating frog legs.
Others would say that "you have a Frenchman in the mill." When
dressing the millstones the hardness of the French burr would often cause
small flakes of metal to break away from the point of the mill pick, some
of these would become embedded in the backs of millstone hands and fore
arms. If it was not removed it cause a bluish discoloration of the skin
much like a tattoo. It was possible to tell from an examination of his hands,
just how much experience the millstone dresser had of dressing millstones,
but at lease he had done it before. Hence the phrase "show us your
metal, mettle! Are you worth your mettle?
(52) Miller's Disputes: "Millers often encountered resentment
and opposition from other millers concerning water rights and from farmers
over pollution of streams and flooding of their pastures. There was also
an adverse effect from the damming of streams on the livelihood of freshwater
fishermen............," from Priamo, Carol, "Mills of Canada,"
McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Toronto, Canada, 1976, page 103.
Also read the tale of three mill dams in Yonkers that they were declared
detrimental to health and dangerous to life."
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Copyright 2001 by T. R. Hazen