10 Years Ago
Week of June 7, 2012
Were An Important
Part Of America
When the first settlers moved to these parts, the first thing needed was a gristmill to crush or grind corn into meal so that people could have bread. Water powered and wind powered grist mills are true Americana. Those structures still in existence deserve to be preserved as national treasures. Milling was a vital element in the story of survival and growth in this country.
The primary purpose of the grist mill was to provide valuable grain products. They also came to be social gathering centers. Most mills had various stones for grinding different grains. Corn, wheat, rye and buckwheat were predominantly ground. The huge rocks used for the grinding had to be hauled in by oxen and wagon from great distances. Water power was used to turn these rocks. A small creek was the best because it could be managed. A large creek would wash away the mill during high water. A wheel with slanted broad spokes was placed below the dam, with a shaft going up into the mill to turn the top rock. A trough poured the water onto the slanted spokes of the wheel. The French mill stones (buhrs or buhrstones) were more desirable because they were harder than stones from the American quarries. These imported stones required less frequent “dressing” than domestic buhrs, which was crucial for good milling results. The cleaning of the grooves and “picking” or sharpening of the stones was a periodic ritual, usually performed twice a year. The two stones were dressed the same and operated in reverse to each other to pulverize the grains. A knowledgeable millwright was required for this critical task.
Mill users developed a fondness for “their” mill. After all, the mill was the place where they spent hours awaiting their turn to have their grain ground. These customers chatted as the miller worked. They gathered the latest news, whispered the juiciest scandal, argued out any political situation, found out who was expecting a baby and swapped fishing lies.
The miller, too, was attached to his mill. It was his livelihood , and he spent most of his waking hours there. He knew its strengths, as well as its weaknesses.
Worn millstones and buhrs from out of business mills are frequently seen as outdoor steps, stepping stones, garden decorations, flagpole bases, driveway width markers, mailbox bases and paving stones.
Mills were also the hub of community commerce to the curing of maladies. At one time it was a fairly common practice among the Pennsylvania Germans (Dutch). The use of the whooping cough cure apparently was restricted to Highland, Augusta, and Pendleton counties.
“Sick” mills were known to which residents brought children to cure or prevent whooping cough. They were Mitchell’s Mill and Kaiser’s (Kiser) Mill near Sugar Grove, Hoover’s Mill (South Fork Mill) near Brandywine, Cowger’s Mill (Little Buckhorn) near Fort Seybert, all in Pendleton County.
Augusta County claimed Miller’s Mill near Sangersville, VA, and Highland County had the Bodkin Mill at Palo Alto, VA.
Among those who could recall the practice and participated in it as a youth, there were two distinct beliefs involved: very young infants who were placed in the hopper would not get whooping cough, or if they did, it would only be a mild case. Others used it only after having a cough, and they were of the opinion it cured or at least reduced the severity of the cough. It was believed that when placing the child in the hopper, perhaps it was the gentle vibration that shook the cough out of the afflicted person.
Although truly Americana, the mills are a unique icon, just as the lighthouses are.
Week of June 6, 2002
A Good Father’s
Influence Is Incalculable
In the beginning, they created a day to honor mothers. So dad was given his day as well. What Father’s Day should really be about is the children who made them fathers, including men who act as a father figure. The influence of a good father is incalculable, spanning for generations and shaping the characters of his children. The greatness of a father is measured by the way he lives his life, his devotion to a higher being and the love expressed for his family. Fatherhood is a privilege and a noble calling. If one is a father, one never stops being a father as long as he lives, even when his children grow up, leave the nest and establish their own homes. One doesn’t let up on loving and caring for one’s own. The time allotted a father to parent his children — nurturing, instilling values and giving unconditional love — passes all to quickly. Wisdom and guidance is needed to do the most important duty of their life. Every child deserves a good father and in turn, they owe a debt of gratitude and honor to their dad this Father’s Day. Salute!
30 Years Ago
Week of June 11, 1992
Dead Poultry Composting—it really works!
“At first, I never believed dead poultry composting worked. But now I am a firm believer in it. I feel that more people should do dead poultry composting because it is the cheapest and simplest way to dispose of dead poultry,” stated Daniel Dale Walker, a broiler producer near Fort Seybert.
Dale is currently raising 175,999 broilers per cycle. He knows that he can dispose of his dead birds in a clean, safe, and cheap method. “It will take about 50 bales of straw per year along with 15 minutes per day to properly compost the birds the correct way,” says Walker.
Building materials cost approximately $3,000, not including labor. “I overbuilt my composting facility for two reasons. 1.) In case of emergencies, and 2.) A little extra space to store straw and use composting manure.”
40 Years Ago
Week of June 10, 1982
Food for birthdays today differs from the day of yore. A birthday party for Eliza (Rexrode) Dahmer in the mid-twenties stated foods served were cake, warm bread with butter and pickles. The drink was not mentioned, but a guess would be apple cider, as her birthday was on January 8.
50 Years Ago
Week of June 8, 1972
Many years ago there lived a preacher on South Fork who had inherited a very large nose. A few of the fair sex laughed about his huge nose and somehow this reached the preacher’s ear. One day when he was horseback riding, he saw in the distance some of the ladies approaching him. Just before they met in the public road, the preacher turned his horse aside and leaving the entire road to them, he adjusted the bridle rein in his right hand and placing his left hand on his nose, pretended to pull it to one side and said, “Ladies, can you pass?” The ladies went by with a silly look their faces.
60 Years Ago
Week of May 31, 1962
100 YEARS AGO
Valley Campaign Ends
By LON K. SAVAGE
Editor’s Note—The following is one of a series of articles on the Civil War. Each weekly installment covers events which occurred exactly 100 years ago.
Col. Charles Ellett, Jr., a federal army officer, stood on the hurricane deck of the steam ram, “Queen of the West,” on the Mississippi River just north of Memphis 100 years ago this week. Suddenly, from around a bend in the river, a gun was fired, and Ellett sprang to life.
“It is a gun from the enemy!,” he shouted to a neighboring vessel. “Round out and follow me!” And the “Queen” charged full steam downriver, followed by the other boat, the “Monarch.” The two vessels ran through a group of federal gunboats and into a wall of smoke. The Battle of Memphis had begun.
It was early morning of June 6, and the battle was over well before noon. The federals made short shrift of a Confederate river defense fleet, and Memphis was doomed.
The fall of Memphis had become almost inevitable two days earlier, when the Confederacy abandoned its heavily-bombarded Fort Pillow. The fort, guarding the river just above the city, was the last obstacle to a federal attack on the city.
And immediately, federal gunboats dropped down the river and anchored in clear, summery weather just above the city. Ellett, commanding a group of steam rams—heavily armored steamboats designed to batter the enemy to pieces, simply by ramming head first—followed close behind with his “Queen” and “Monarch.”
The Confederate vessels launched the attack, and it was that attack that had sent Ellett into motion. His “Queen” darted downriver, through the federal fleet and into the battle, smashing head-first into the broadside of one Confederate vessel, cutting it nearly in two and leaving it sinking.
The “Monarch” followed and rammed into the side of another Confederate vessel, sending it to the bottom. The federal gunboats, with twice the number of guns of the Confederates, raked the other Southern vessels, and the fight was over 70 minutes after it started. As Tennesseans watched glumly from the banks, three Confederate ships were destroyed, four others captured, and only one escaped.
The American flag again was raised over Memphis, and federals now controlled nearly all of western Tennessee. The fight had cost less than 500 casualties, one of them Ellett, himself, who received a fatal wound.
It was another blow to the Confederacy in the Civil War’s western theatre, but the blow was partially offset that week by developments in Virginia. For while Yanks were taking over Memphis, “Stonewall” Jackson smashed into two of the armies chasing him in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, defeated them both and ended his first “Valley Campaign” with complete victory.
Jackson was resting in the valley when Memphis fell, eyeing the armies of federal Generals John C. Fremont and James Shields, who were closing in on him from opposite directions.
On June 8, Fremont attacked Jackson near an inn called Cross Keys and was soundly whipped. Next morning, Jackson led his men in an attack on Shields at the nearby town of Port Republic, and by evening both Fremont and Shields were retreating toward the north.
Jackson had cleared the valley and had prevented three armies from marching on Richmond. Now, he was ready to march for Richmond himself.
Next week: Stuart’s Ride Around McClellan.
70 Years Ago
Week of June 5, 1950
By Mary Mann Zinn
To Save Miles . . .
Have you ever wondered how many miles you walk on the housecleaning job?
Often, it’s not the work but the walking that wears you out. Running back and forth for utensils and supplies adds weary miles and minutes to the day.
The cure for this backtracking is simple. Plan the jobs in advance so that they fit easily into the day’s schedule. Assemble all utensils and supplies for your work on a wheeled table or cart that can be rolled from place to place as you need it.
If you use a sturdy cart with two shelves for the job, it can carry pails of water for washing and rinsing and the vacuum cleaner as well.
With your cleaning supplies on this cart at a convenient level, you’ll not only stop backtracking, but eliminate stooping for utensils, too.
By County Agent
Did you ever hear of vegetable plants changing to weeds?
It actually happens and the explanation is simple when you consider that a weed is nothing more than a plant growing where it should not grow. I’ve seen carrots, for instance—when the gardener thought they were free of weeds—yet, most of the plants growing there should have been considered as weeds because they were doing just as much damage as weeds would have done.
The point I’m trying to make is to thin your vegetables properly if you’re to produce vegetables of high quality. Carrots and beets are two vegetables that usually are left too thick. Thin the carrots so they’ll stand two inches apart and thin the beets to stand three inches apart. If this is done when the plants first come up, the ones you leave will grow much faster and be tender and tasty.
Proper thinning or spacing of other vegetables is also important.