2005 Newsletters

Newsletter Articles from 2005

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

Here are some articles from 2005:

  • “Jim Graham” Hopper-Boy Installation Completed by William Robbins
  • American-Flat Grinding System at Yates Mill
  • Research Continues On The Origins Of  The Millstones At Historic Yates Mill County Park by Mike Smith
  • Restoration of the Flour Milling Process Completed by William Robbins
  • Recent Historical Developments at Yates Mill by Sarah Rice and Rebeccah Cope

The construction and installation of an authentic example of the machine known as the Hopper-Boy has been completed at Yates Mill. Located on the 3rd floor, it is component of the flour milling process developed by Oliver Evans and the function and design are detailed in Evans' 1795 book The Young Millwright and Miller's Guide. The test was used to develop an example that was as accurate as possible. The new Hopper-Boy was installed in the exact location as the one found at Yates Mill in the 1800s, which was proven by the circular marks or grooves left in the floor boards where the original machine rotated to cool the flour before it was sifted. Evans described the speed of the Hopper-Boy as no more than 4 revolutions per minutes and it was powered by the waterwheel by a vertical wooden shaft that carries power to the second and third floors of the mill. The shaft revolves at approximately 110 rpm so a speed reduction system had to be designed. Oliver Evans' book helped restorers understand how the parts found in the mill were used. A belt drive system was used to protect the drive gears. Heart pine was used to build the pulleys and their shafts at Yates Mill. Oak was chosen for the bearings that iron shafts turn in. Work has begun on the rolling screen which removes dirt and unwanted seeds and debris from the wheat after harvest and before the grain was fed into the grain cleaner. When finished Yates Mill will house one of very few examples of this process in existence.
Yates Mill contains a system of early flour milling technology called the American or Flat Grinding System which was drawn in B.W. Dedrick's 1924 Practical Milling Book. In his article The Art of the Millstones, How They Work, Theodore R. Hazen describes the process. Millers originally practiced low grinding or flat grinding where millstones were close together using speed and pressure to produce the maximum amount of fine flour in a single grind. The conventional damsel and shoe feed system was problematic when refeeding flour for a second grinding. Regrinding also produced hot, damp flour and conventional millstones were not set up for this operation. In the 1800s high grinding or half high grinding was used to produce middlings, which were then reground into flour.
According to Charles D. Hockensmith, author of article The Millstone Industry of North Carolina, millstones were traditionally quarried in several North Carolina counties. In Chatham and Moore Quartzite conglomerate millstone was quarried. Montgomery, Davidson, and Stanly counties yielded Flint millstones. Moore and Rowan counties produced Gneiss and Granite millstones. Madison County produced Quartzite millstones and Jones county produced marl with silica soaked shells millstones. New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were major millstone producers. The quartzite conglomerate produced in Chatham and Moore counties was best for grinding corn. These millstones were shipped to every state as well as Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Mexico. According to Tyler Clark, Chief Geologist, Randy Braswell Geologist II with the NC Geological Survey, and Dr. Skip Stoddard, Associate Professor of Geology at NCSU the millstones donated to Yates Mill by House-Autry Mills to grind corn are Quart/Quartzite conglomerates, which is harder than granite. These millstones possibly originated for a Moore County quarry. The millstones used for wheat milling could not be identified other than they were not from North Carolina. The stones were previously identified as French Burr, a type of freshwater quartz quarried outside Paris, France. The bedrock that Yates Mill sits on is a metamorphic rock called Falls Leucogneiss which is unique to North Carolina and is found along a geologic fault line that is no more than 1 kilometer wide and 80 miles long extending from Lake Wheeler in Wake County to Henderson, North Carolina. Many water powered mills were built where streams crossed this fault line.
The wooden augers that covey wheat flour from the Hopper-Boy to the Bolter are complete. Based on holes found in the floor, the Bolter in Yates Mill is about 10 feet away from its original position.
The auger boxes hang from the ceiling next to the Bolter. One is 10 feet long and moves flour along the Bolter. The other is 4 1/2 feet long and moves flour the width of the machine. The wooden shafts were made of soft maple and the blades were made of hardrock maple. The wooden gears needed to power them were made of vintage heart pine with oak teeth. The belt pulleys are made of vintage heart pine. Iron shafts, stop collars and metal bands were also fabricated.Samuel Pearson received a Land Grant from the Earl of Granville, a British Lord Proprietor in 1761. Samuel is thought to have moved to Steep Hill Creek around 1748. where he later built the mill. The earliest land record found for Samuel is dated May 1756 requesting a land survey or warrant. The survey was completed in October 1756 and the land grant was received January 1761. There is also a land grant for Samuel Pearson from 1778 where a mill on Steep Hill Creek is mentioned. It is possible there may have been an earlier land grant but record keeping was chaotic around the time of the American Revolution. Jim Jones, a Yates Mill volunteer and historian has done much research on the Pearson family. 8 Pearson family land grants have been identified in the area around Yates Mill, encompassing over 1500 acres. Samuel Pearson's sons also purchase tracts. Samuel was born March 2, 1723 to Simon Pearson and Sarah Thurston Shaw and this was recorded in St. Paul's Parish in Baltimore County Maryland. Samuel may have traveled to NC with his older brother, Moses. He is thought to have married Mary Simmons in 1747 in New Bern, NC. Samuel and Mary had 10 children between 1749 and 1772., The oldest child, Simon, inherited 340 acres on both sides of Steep Hill Creek and a slave named Joe. Simon later lost the mill at a sheriff's sale due to debt. Samuel Pearson died on his plantation in Wake County NC on May 4, 1802 at age 79. His wife dies on January 28 1822 at the age of 88. Mary was recorded as one of the first settlers of Johnston County. She married at age 13. Samuel was active in the local militia.Samuel Pearson was likely a Captain in the Revolutionary War. Samuel was an overseer of highways in his district and served on juries.
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.