SPRING 1983, pp. 1-2


Waterwheel and Gears Turning Again

Yes -- you can now watch the corn being ground for you to purchase as corn meal at the NEW "Old Grist Mills at Union Mills. Compromises have been made in the reconstruction of the Mill because of the extensive cost of material and labor but the basic conception of the "Oliver Evans" mill was brought into being by millwright, Derek Ogden, originally an electrical engineer at a General Electric plant in Birmingham, England. Mr. Ogden' s part-time job on a windmill at Compton Wynyates was well publicized, other offers came and Mr. Ogden was able to make a full-time career as a millwright. Windmills and water powered mills have taken him to France, Tasmania, South Africa, India as well as Britain and the U.S. He makes his home in Surry County, Virginia where much of the wood work was completed before moving the mill parts to the finale location for installation.

According to Mr. Robert (Max) Bair, county community development director, Carroll County has spent about $260,000 - with 3/4 of the amount covered by state grants, reworking the mill to the present day useful state. This is far from the original cost. The following is copy taken from research by Sandy Ross, a former curator;

On January 25, 1797 the Shriver Brothers had contracted with John Mong, a Frederick County millwright for $420 to begin supervising and building a set of mills... .

...John Mong agrees to build a Sett of Mills.. . with a Mill for Manufacturing grain into flour. To comprehend Two Water Wheels of double geer for Three Pair Grinding and one Pair Shelling Stones. Compleat one Merchent and one Midling Bolt-With Chest Mixers. Packing Rooms, Rolling Screen and Appendages. Hopper Boy and Packing Machine and Compleat one Country Bolt and Chest and one Buckwheat or Corn Bolt and Chest. Two Setts Hoisting Geers and With everything else Needful and Necessary to the above described Work ... .

The day after contracting with John Mong for " a sett of mills" the Shriver Brothers made an agreement with Henry Kohlstock, carpenter, on January 26, 1797:

"Witnesseth that for and in consideration of one hundred pounds to be paid by the said Andrew and David Shriver to the said Henry Kohlstock, he, the said Kohlstock, agrees to finish two small houses, fourteen by seventeen feet each, to be connected by a porch and passage about ten feet wide,- - .that is to say, he is to do all the joiner work so as to complete said houses, passage, porch and stairways, agreeably to a plan thereof now produced; also to do all the carpenter work of a mill house forty by fifty feet, and to complete the whole thereof in a sufficient and neat, workmanlike manner, as expeditiously as possible; and further, finally to complete the whole, he is to paint the work, both dwelling and mill house, in a proper and sufficient manner; they, Andrew and David Shriver, to find all the materials, paint, oil, etc.

"R. McIlhenny , John Mong, Witnesses" Andrew and David Shriver on March 13th of 1797 contracted a "Memorandum of Agreement" with Jacob Keefer and John Eckart to "Mould and Burn a Kiln of Brick" for the mill and to provide 100,000 brick or more as would be directed. The Shriver Brothers agreed to pay Keefer and Eckart "at the rate of a French Crown for Every Thousand of Merchentable good sufficient Brick" and to provide their "Board and Lodge".

Cost does not show in the papers I have on the Mill House but we can be sure it was reasonable. The new Waterwheel has been built of white oak and is a breastshot arrangement.

The dimensions of the wheel are 15' 6" in diameter by 6' wide - supported by eight arms morticed through a sixteen sided white oak shaft which measures 26" across the flats. There are forty-eight buckets which have been ventilated and arranged to provide as much power and speed as is possible from a relatively inefficient design operating on a low head of water. The total weight of the waterwheel is approximately 16,000 pounds of which the shaft alone accounts for 9,000 pounds.

The gearing of the mill is contained in a very traditional Evans Husk Frame built entirely of white oak and is a heavy construction to house three pairs of millstones driven by counter shafts. The frame is 31' in length by 9 ' wide by 8' 4 " high and weighs over 20,000 pounds. It houses gearing with one set of millstones at this time, but provision is made to add two more sets of stones, two driven from a countershaft and the third from a short countershaft. Each countershaft has a lantern gear wheel driven by the master cog wheel and in turn the millstones are further geared by little cog wheels and a small lantern gear wheel. All gears are built of white oak and have cogs or rounds made from ironwood.

From existing examples and a lot of research it was possible to produce a design for Union Mills which has few compromises. We must not forget these grist mills were built only to earn a living for the owner and were never intended to be museums nor with any thought to historic preservation. They were simply hard working agricultural machines which were repaired and sometimes improved as they wore out.

We think you will enjoy your visit to the Grist Mill.

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2000 - 2005  J. Douglass Klein.  Last updated 09/07/05 02:26 PM.
Line drawing of the Homestead by Richard Weidman.