Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Grist Mill in Dubois Hollow

Meg and I had a great adventure on Sunday. We had permission to check out the remains of an old grist mill that is located in the woods fairly close to where we live. We are keeping the exact location secret, so that people don't bother the historic site ( and the land owners).

When you come upon the 3 story stone structure, it's a bit of a shock. It is made from dry laid sandstone blocks that were hewn and course-laid. This is the east wall. The original builder and owner was named Biddle. I have a great grandmother Biddle from this area, and I wonder if there is a connection. I was told that it took 7 to 9 years for him to build it. A team of oxen helped drag the stones and hoist them into place. They were young when it started and ready to retire when it was finished.

This is the west wall. We don't know when it was built, but guesses have it in the late 1700's or early 1800's.

This detail near the west wall shows where the water wheel rested. By looking at where the shaft went through the wall, I estimate that the wheel was about 20 feet high.

Inside the mill, resting against the south retaining wall, is this 'mystery stone'. It was hand drilled with a star drill and split. It has shaped ends to fit somewhere and 3 notches along the front. What was it's purpose? Someone went to a lot of trouble with it.

One of the coolest features is this box flue. I've never seen anything like it.

Meg took this shot from inside the mill where the flue rises up through the wall to the covered box flue.

Just uphill from the mill is the remains of a long, low stone and earthen dam.

It has filled in with dirt over the last 150 years. But, they would let it fill up, from water that came from a spring uphill and then open the gate to let it go down a wooden race to turn the mill wheel.

This is the remains of the spring house that is up the hill from the dam. This is a little cave spring, and it was running pretty good when we were there. The flow is never enough to turn a wheel. That's why they'd let it fill the pond and do the grinding in batches.

At the top of the hill is the chimney for the cabin where the owner lived.

Check out this diamond chisel pattern on the sandstone chimney stones.

These are steps for the ladies to dismount from carraiges. ( a touch of class, even in remote wilderness).

This marble tombstone, with these excellently carved hands, belongs to a man named Nathaniel Dubois, who was the last person to run the mill. He had a tavern in Louiville, and he was using the mill to make whiskey. After running off a barrel, he hired a young boy to help him move the barrel and hide it. The boy told a local Marshall, who knocked on the cabin door. When Dubois opened the door, he reached up for his hat, but the marshall thought he was reaching for a gun and shot him. He died February 24, 1868. His widow went back to Louisville after burying him here about 50 yards west of the cabin. The mill fell into disuse, and the story ends here.

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