The Daily Grind


Bet you’re thinking I’m going to write about the ordeal of getting through each new day.

Nope, that’s not what this is about.

I’m talking gristmills, the places the farmer took his wheat and corn to be ground into meal.

During the 1850’s more than a 100,000 gristmills dotted the American countryside. They were in great demand.

The mills were a community gathering place or social center. Everyone needed to get their grain converted into meal. Often the people packed a lunch and made a day out of it. And many mills had a pond where young and old alike could cool off, and in many instances, throw a line in the water hoping to catch some fish.

Usually the mills were situated on a river or stream and the water powered the large paddlewheel that turned the huge buhrstone and ground the grain into meal.

But in areas where there was little water, horses and mules turned the heavy buhrstones.

Meal that was ground in this method, whether wheat, buckwheat, rye, or corn was very healthy because the oils and germ was retained in the finished product. Not at all like what we buy out of the stores today. The pioneers’ way preserved the nutrients and flavors.

The  farmers gave a certain amount of grain to the miller in exchange for getting their crop ground. The miller in turn sold his portion of the meal and made a tidy profit. That was the way they stayed in business.

Sadly today, there are only about a 1,000 gristmills-both in working and nonworking condition. Milling has become a lost art, mostly relegated to the pages of history.


The oldest mill in operation is in Wye Mills, Maryland. It was built in 1682 and shipped barrels of flour to the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Today, they offer tours and on the first and third Saturdays of each month from April to November they grind grain into meal and sell it.

War Eagle Mill located near Rogers, Arkansas is another very old, fully operational, mill. They’ve been in business for more than 175 years and hope to keep going a long time.

So what do you think about my daily grind? Have you ever been to a gristmill or eaten food made from stone-ground meal? They tell me there’s nothing like it.


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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

22 thoughts on “The Daily Grind”

  1. Linda,

    Interesting post. I’ve always loved the old water powered gristmills. There’s just something charming about them. I’ve never eaten food made from stone-ground meal, but now that I know there’s a mill close I might have to head over on one of the Saturdays it’s in operation.


  2. Yup, we lived near War Eagle for a few years, a long time ago. It’s a lovely area. The bread we had was very rich and textured, not exactly heavy, but full of flavor.

  3. Very interesting post, Linda. You can buy “stone ground” products in stores, but I’m betting they’re not quite the same.
    Love the photos of those old mills. They look so inviting.
    I live 20 minutes from the Lehi Roller Mill where “Footloose” was filmed. It’s been there forever, but I’m not sure whether they use stone or steel for grinding. Something to look into.

  4. Terrific post, Linda! There is a very historic gristmill located in Meadows of Dan, VA–just a pleasant drive away from my home:

    “Enjoy a great day hiking and visiting Mabry Mill, then enjoy a delicious meal at Mabry Mill Restaurant. Visitors and locals alike come back year after year for Mabry Mill Restaurant’s famous buckwheat cakes, country ham, and Virginia barbeque. Afterwards, stop by the Gift Shop and pick up your own pack of grits, cornmeal and buckwheat flour to take home for yourself or as a gift.”

  5. Good morning Kirsten……..thanks for stopping by. It’s always great to see you here. Glad you liked my blog. Yes, you definitely need to visit your local gristmill. Who knows what you’ll find. Some old mills actually have a restaurant in them. What great atmosphere! I went to one in Arkansas many years ago and loved the experience.

  6. Good morning Gillian……..then you know what I’m talking about. Food prepared with stone ground flour and meal is so flavorful. And it’s very healthy. Another good reason to use it.

    Glad you enjoyed my post. I’m sure War Eagle is a very beautiful place. I’d like to go there.

  7. Good morning, Elizabeth…….I’m really fascinated with old mills. I can close my eyes and picture the excitement of the families who gathered there in years gone by. A lot of these old mills have been turned into a little restaurant. Lots of ambiance. I went to one in Arkansas quite a few years ago and loved the experience. I hope you do check out the mill that is close to you.

  8. Morning, Virginia C………thank you for putting the link for Mabry Mill. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I do think Virginia has some of the most interesting places to visit. And it’s a beautiful state.

    Hope you have a wonderful day! 🙂

  9. Linda – Those are such beautiful mill pictures. There is a mill in my area that has been well cared for and maintained over the years. It is sad to see other mills that have been neglected. Mills tell such a great story of our history.

  10. Linda, I have a funny story about ground corn mill. About 30 years ago we had a friend that gave us some fresh ground corn meal. I put it in my pantry and forgot about it….Several months later we had millers flying out of the pantry. I could not figure out where they were coming from. Then I discovered they were coming out of the ground corn mill.
    Linda, I really liked your Christmas story in your latest book……Love reading your stories!

  11. Hi Lori D………I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I think the importance of gristmills in the early days has been largely overlooked. If there hadn’t been mills, no one would’ve had flour or meal. I think they’re so beautiful and kinda have a serene quality to them. I can just imagine the gentle swish of the water as it turned the paddlewheel.

    Yes, it is sad that mills have been mostly neglected instead of people finding other ways to use them like restaurants, museums, gift shops.

  12. Hi Tretha……….I’m glad you left a comment! This is great. Thanks for sharing your funny story about the millers. I can just see that. I’m sure you wasted no time in tossing that cornmeal. I would’ve. I’ve really missed seeing you. Seems like it’s been forever. We need to go on one of our adventures.

    Thank you for the kind words about A TEXAS CHRISTMAS. I’m glad you liked the book. We really try to please. 🙂

  13. Good morning Linda, love the post, beautiful pics. In my area the closest thing we had was a stone, it was about three and a half feet tall with a long thin rock that set in a bowl at the top of the stone. You could see where the Indians leaned up against the stone while grinding their grain and the handprints worn on the thin rock. I took my kids to see it about fifteen years ago and it was gone! I cried. It had always been a part of the history out here. I wish I knew where it got off to.

  14. Hi Stephanie………Glad you liked my post. Thank you for stopping by. How neat that you were able to see that grinding stone! That thing was pretty big. I hate that it’s not there anymore. A piece of history gone. But maybe a museum has it. Hope so. I’d have loved to have seen it.

  15. Interesting post, I have not been to a mill but I have eaten food made from stone ground meal. Corn bread made for it is delish!

  16. Hi Linda, terrific post! We do buy stone ground tortillas…so hope they truly mean it LOL. We just visited historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and the water wheel mill there was just gorgeous. Built just perfectly over a stream.

    Love the pix, filly sister! oxox

  17. Hi Quilt Lady……..I’ll bet you’re an excellent cook. Anyone who calls herself Quilt Lady has to be an expert in the home. I can just taste that cornbread that you made from stone ground meal. Yummy! I love cornbread anyway. Sure is good stuff.

    Thank you for your continued support of P&P. Without visitors like you we’d have no reason to be here. 🙂

  18. Hi Tanya………glad you enjoyed my post and the neat pix. It was a fun blog to do.

    Wow, I know you had a great time on your trip to Virginia and the East Coast! You travel to some of the most interesting places. I’ve always wanted to go to Virginia. And Williamsburg is brimming with historic sites. Can’t wait to hear more of your trip.

    Hope you have a glorious day!

  19. Hi Linda! I had the pleasure of seeing historic Colvin Mill in operation. It’s in northern Virignia and dates back to the late 1700s. My husband and I were the only ones there that afternoon, so we had the miller’s full attention as he made cornmeal. Really a great experience. I used the research for “Kansas Courtship,” where the hero owns a mill. In the book, it’s a grist mill that’s been converted to a sawmill. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  20. Hi Vicki……, you’re sure making me look forward to see Virginia someday! Colvin Mill sounds like a real special place. I’m sure you got some great information while you were there. I haven’t read Kansas Courtship yet but it’s in my TBR pile.

  21. Rats, my computer shut down mid-comment.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    We have visited several historic mills on our travels over the years. The first one we visited was on Cape Cod over 35 years ago. It was Dexter’s Grist Mill, Sandwich, MA. The mill was built in 1654 and restored in 1961. We also visited Colvin Mill in Northern Virginia (thanks for reminding me about that one, Victoria) when we were stationed at Andrews AFB. I have cooked with the corn meal from these mills. It gives things a much different texture than what you get at the grocery store and good.

  22. Very interesting post. I have toured a couple of mills. There is one in a town near where I live and my father worked there many years ago when it was a running mill. The second one was in Alley Spring Missouri when my husband and I were on our honeymoon. I have several pictures of it including a framed colored picture taken from a calender many years after we were there and I took black and white pictures. A few years ago, our daughter asked where that picture was taken because her and her husband had taken an almost identical picture on their anniversary trip. They were there 45 years after we were and it is still in good shape!

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