2003 Newsletters

Newsletters from 2003

As Yates Mill was restored, Yates Mill Associates published and mailed paper newsletters to keep supporters informed of the progress and to share historical discoveries.

Here are some articles from 2003:

  • The Finley Lodge by Dick Thompson and John Vandenbergh
  • Hand Quern Built and Donated for Use at Yates Mill
  • Bolter Restoration Nears Completion by William Robbins
  • Recollections of the Mill from 25 Years Ago by Donald Barnes
  • Grain Cleaner Restored
  • Researchers Visit Yates Mill
  • Mill Speak Round 2
  • Mill Speak Round 3
  • Vertical Shaft Installed

A.E. Finley, Dick Thompson, and Willie York decided to sell Fin-Crest Hereford Farms to NCSU at a price below market value. The Finley Lodge set on Fin-Crest Farms and opened in October 1947. Hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony, including employees of the North Carolina Equipment Company and equipment manufacturers from all over the US. The Lodge was used for business, training, and recreation. Fin-Crest Farms also raised hereford cattle. Customers included LBJ Ranch in Texas, Arthur Godfrey from Virginia, and J.B Hawley from Illinois. Many civic groups were able to use the lodge for free and it became a favorite meeting place for many Raleigh area folks. In 1963, NCSU purchased Fin-Crest Farms, which included Finley Lodge and Yates Mill. The Lodge was used for recreation by university staff, faculty, and students. In 1979 the Zoology Department was granted use of the lodge for field research but the rooms were not configured correctly.NCSU trained several Job Corps members in carpentry to reconfigure the lodge. Over the next 20 years the lodge housed several research projects, including studies on snakes, aquatic species, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and day-length effects on lizards and birds. The Lodge is scheduled to be demolished to make way for the A.E Finley Center, which will include modern labs equipped for environmental studies.The Mid-West Tool Collectors Association donated an 18th century style demonstration Hand Quern or rotary mill. It was built by YMA board member Ed Hobbs and will be used for interpretation programs. Querns were developed around 8000 BC by Egyptians. Two horizontal disk shaped stones rubbed or turned against each other to grind grain.
The bolter sits on the second floor of Yates Mill and was used to sift superfine flour from undesirable debris. Yates Mill's bolter is one of the oldest still in existence, dating from the 1800s and covered in signatures that verify its age. It was used as an example for the restoration of the bolter at George Washington's Grist Mill. The bolter consists of a wooden box 16 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. The upper portion of the box houses a hexagonal reel whose wooden frame has longitudinal ribs where a bolting cloth is tightly stretched, forming a tube. When operating, the reel turns at 30 RPM. The wheat enters the reel at the head end and exits at the tail end. This reel is at an incline so the flour travels downhill. The cloth is made of three different sized meshes and sifts fine flour at the head, middlings in the middle, and course at the tail, which is used for tailings or bran. Under the reel and inside the bolter is a trough to catch the filtered flour. Inside the trough is a wooden screw auger that turns and moves the flour to spouts that lead to the first floor of the mill where the three grades of flour can be bagged. Repairs included new cloth, and adding missing flights and bearings to the screw auger. Wood repairs were completed with antique heart pine.
This article recounts the recollections of Dr. Don Barnes, a professor of design at NCSU who was introduced to Yates Mill by Dr. Lawrence Apple of the NCSU College of Life and Sciences. Dr. Barnes one of the first people to recognize the value of Yates Mill and worked with his students, including Billy Bryant, George Fore, and Jim Smith, to bring the log cabin to the site. Yates Mill was once know as Penny's Mill and Old Mill on Steep Hill Creek. The mill has stood for over 200 years and even survived a Civil War attempt to burn it down. When the School of Design was started, a graduation requirement was to complete a set of measure drawings of a historic or architectural significant building. Yates Mill was drawn before student protests led to the dissolution of this requirement and the drawings were archived in the Design School library. Dr. Barnes found them in 1970.

Dr. Barnes made a pen and ink drawing of modifications he would like to see happen at Yates Mill, such as changing the roof materials and adding lightning rods. He also made a second drawing of a plan to develop the site. He proposed developing the NCSU farm across the highway as a parking area with pedestrian access to the mill under the highway bridge. In 1975-1976 NCSU allowed him to lead a historic design studio. They cleaned the pigeon droppings out of Yates Mill and measured the mill. The discovered it had originally been a one story building with a roof ridge running at a right angle to the current roof. There had also been a fire that was extinguished before it did a lot of damage. There had been at least 3 waterwheels of varying size and one at a right angle to the current wheel. There had been 2 types of milling systems for corn and wheat. The current fore bay or foe bee was built in the 1930s by Hubert Champion who supervised the shop the NCSU School of Design. A nearby resident showed them a wool blanket whose wool had been carded at Yates Mill. The open shed had once been used as a sawmill. The dam was actually two parallel dams with clay fill between, which made the dam self-sealing for small leaks but not hurricane proof. Reservoirs upstream could be released during droughts. The log cabin by the mill was built by the students from old tobacco barns that would have been flooded by the building of Jordan Lake. A corn shelling machine was restored and stored at the NC State Fair to be displayed until the mill wanted it back. The NC State Fair also has a large forge bellows from Oakee Grove Plantation. Many of the students went on to work in historic preservation and even worked to bring a log cabin to the state fairgrounds. They wanted to restore the mill, but could not find a way to care for it after the restoration.
The Invincible Company double horizontal scourer restoration is complete. Located on the second floor of the mill, this grain cleaner machine removed impurities from raw wheat with beater bars inside a cast iron cylinder. The metal parts were removed, cleaned and painted. The maple parts were cleaned, repaired, sealed, and finished with clear lacquer. The moving parts were cleaned and everything reassembled. New belts were added. It will be powered by the rotating vertical shaft under restoration. When complete, Yates Mill will be one of the only mills in America able to demonstrate Oliver Evans 1790 patent for the automated mill.
Yates Mill was visited by millwright consultant Derek Ogden, John O'Rourke, Tipper Davis, and Rob Cullen who are working to reconstruct the bolter at George Washington's Grist Mill at Mt. Vernon. According to Ogden, Yates Mill and Collins Mill in Pennsylvania are the only bolters known to date back to Washington's time. Having visited and drawn the bolter at Collins Mill, the group hoped to combine the best attributes of each bolter. A drawing created in the 1970s by a group of NCSU students was given to the group.
Mill Speak Round Two is a matching game of mill sayings.
Mill Speak Round 3 is matching game of mill sayings.
Construction and installation of the wooden vertical shaft that transfers power from the waterwheel to the second and third floors of Yates Mill is near completion. The wood was cut from a 26 foot long, 12 by 16 inch heart pine timber that was once part of DurRaleigh Cotton Mill built in 1890. Over 165 annual growth rings were counted on the timber, which make the wood the same vintage as Yates Mill. Two wooden crown or cog gears, one 37 inches and one 16 inches in diameter, were made of white oak. The large gear contains 39 maple cogs attached with cherry splines and the smaller gear has 14 maple cogs held with walnut pegs. Each also has a metal rim for additional strength. The large gear is attached to a chain driven shaft and engages the smaller gear attached to the wooden vertical shaft. The shaft has 4 sections and is 30 feet long. The upper two sections are original. Steel couplings and gudgeons hold it together. The flour milling process at Yates Mill is now complete.
To see more information about the history of Yates Mill and the role Yates Mill Associates played in restoring the mill, visit the A.E. Finley Center at Historic Yates Mill County Park to see displays, view artifacts, and watch videos of the mill in action.