History of Pumpkintown & Oolenoy

Land of Grain and Clear Water

By Bert Hendricks Reece, Pickens, South Carolina

Originally published by Miracle Hill Print Shop.
© 1970 by the author. Edited for the net by John Reece
Contact: reece@pobox.com

The Old Grist Mill

Hagood Mill
The settlers who moved from Europe to America were familiar with the small grains but they learned corn and its use from the American Indians. With the pestle they hammered the corn into rough meal in the, mortar. This meal was mixed with water and baked on their hoe. This gave it the name hoecake.

The white settlers who were accustomed to using machinery in Europe later developed the water mill. This was a wheel turned by water that would crush the grain between two stones. The mill was located below a small shoal in the creek and a dam was built to hold back the water until needed. A race or trough was built to carry water from a gate in the dam to a large wheel that had wooden buckets or troughs. When the gate in the dam was opened and water allowed to flow down this race to the wheel it would turn the wheel as the troughs filled up. As the top stone revolved against the stationary bottom stone it would mash and grind the corn into meal. On this mill the noted water ground meal, grits and whole wheat flour could be made. The rocks moved very slow so not to damage the meal or flour by getting hot. This water ground meal is much sought after by those who one time had a taste of bread made with it.

The rocks were kept sharpened. This required a skilled workman. With a chisel-like instrument he chiseled from center to circumference, like spokes in a wheel. The rocks were granite mined from cliffs of the mountain.

In this mill the grains moved over and over the rock and gradually forced them out to the edge and off in the form of meal. The miller had a lever by which he could raise or lower the upper rock to make the meal fine or coarse. He liked to make his meal fine but not too fine to feel round when rubbed between his fingers. He took great pride in making round-ground meal that was never overheated in the process. No other meal has the natural corn flavor of this old time water ground meal.

Next: Christmas in the Valley 100 Years Ago