Monday, February 18, 2008

More about Milling

Last week I wrote about Andrew Chapman's grist and sawmill on Kennicks Branch of the Wicomico River, and more particularly about some details of the complex as recorded by the census marshal in 1880. Well, Chapman had a competitor in the Port Tobacco district; a competitor that did not depend on the vicissitudes of rainfall and available water, and who did not need a mill seat. James S. Ammon owned a mill with a steam engine that generated 28 horsepower, 75% more than Chapman's overshot water wheel.

Ammon had only one run of stones, as opposed to Chapman, but he ran his mill full time 6 months a year, and half-time the remaining 6 months. Chapman's gristmill was idle 9 months of the year. Ammon ground a little more livestock feed (36,000 pounds), and less than a quarter of the corn meal that Chapman's mill produced; but he ground 18,000 bushels on corn and rye (no wheat, apparently) to Chapman's 9200. Both mills custom milled only, and both millers produced comparable amounts of board feet of lumber in their respective sawmills.

Whether powered by steam or water, both millers provided critical services and products to the community. Identification and archaeological study of both mill sites would offer insights into their sizes and configurations. More importantly, we would have the opportunity to identify engineering solutions to problems in staffing the complexes and meeting market demand, as well as determine whether Chapman and Ammon expanded their respective mill complexes to garner larger market shares from one another or from competing millers in neighboring districts.

Jim

1 comment:

erickia said...

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