Mills in Northwest Florida
The simple water-powered
mills and later, the early
turbine and steam powered mills, were
important part of the development of northwest Florida. The many swift
that drain the panhandle provided many favorable settings for
Some of these
mills became large industrial complexes, while others, like
in Escambia County, Jernigan's Mill in Santa Rosa County and Keyser
Okaloosa County, remained small operations.
A number of
these small water-powered mills brought about the use of mills to cut
transport lumber from the pine forrests south to the Gulf of Mexico
there the wood could be
shipped around the world to markets in other parts of America and even
Europe. As the
lumber industry grew in
importance, however, the small water-powered mill was gradually
large steam powered lumber mills.
days we can just pour our dry grits out of the box and microwave them
pour our soft whole kernel corn out of a can and heat it. That was not true for many
families in our
area in the days before electricity.
can buy sliced bread at the store instead of kneading flour, milk and
bake the bread at home.
That is one of the reasons why there were
several grist mills around here. The mills had many different uses. In northwest Florida the
mills would grind
grains such as corn, oats and wheat into meal and flour. Many grist mills used
water to power the
grinding stone which crushed the hard corn kernels into a fine grain. Some mills operated only
time. Other mills
would grind grains for
individuals whenever they needed.
Cadenhead, had a small grist mill built onto the back of his old truck. As late as the 1950s,
farmers would call him
to come to their farm to run their feed corn through his portable mill
it into feed for their livestock.
not uncommon for the oldest daughter in the family to go to the grist
taking a bag of corn with her. She
wait until the corn was ground and then return home with it. Sometimes she might have
to leave the corn
and come back the next day, after school, to get it.
who operated the mill, was paid for his services of milling by
toll. A toll is a portion of the grain brought to the mill for
were other ways to pay, of course, cash
or barter (trading one thing for another).
of the mill usually was one pair of millstones, sometimes two pairs of
millstones. Pressure built up by the water makes the stones turn. The corn is poured into a
chute, or long
tray. The corn
passes between the moving
mill stones and gets crushed. There
diagrams on line and in books that explain the process in detail. Do you know anyone who is
old enough to
remember grist mills?
Learn more: http://bakerblockmuseum.org/heritage/gristmill/gristmill.htm
Educational Services. 2008. Baker, Florida