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Full text of "The history and construction of the mill at Burnt Mills, Maryland : initiation thesis / of John Rodgers Beall"

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Initiation Thesis 
of John Rodgers Beall» 




site of the present mill had been "burned. He had never heard the 
date of the destruction of the mill, but he thought it hal occur- 
red a half or three quarters of a century before his birth," 

The Rambler stated further that the miller hai showed 
him an antique copper stencl found b the miller which read 
"Glen Cairn i^Iilis Panily Flour", It is claimed that traces of a 
foundation and mill race were found, appt^rently of this mill, 

While two or three of the inh bitanta stated that they 
had heard that the mill had once turned out bone furtilizer as a 
product, the mill has only ground flour and meal during the years 
which they personally remember, c^uoting again from the Rambler j 

".--everything - -about the mill -the miller, of 
course, included- is whitened by the flour and meal ground there 
and whicw has been grinding there so long that no man's memory 
runneth to the contrary." 

An overshot wheel originally drove the mill, while the 
grinding was done by burrs or atones made of some "hard volcanic 
rock" , and said to have been imported from Prance, The wheel was 
replaced by a turbine, and the old mill-race by a concrete flume, 
in which were scratc led (while the concrete was soft) the name, 
Kloppmeyer, of the man who built the flume, and the date, 1911, 
Thus, it seems that the turbine and flume were installed in 1911, 
since the end of the penstock leading from the end of the flume 
to the turbine is embedded in the concrete of the flume, and there 
are no evidences of its having been installed later. The mill- 
stones, however, were replaced by a roller mill somewhat earlier. 
According to the stories of two of the inhabitants, which agree 


closely, this was about 1895, After this the rail! turned out 
three grades of wheat flour, as weil aa corn meal, which was 
ground on stones retained for the purpoee. 

A. deed transfering the ownership of a piece of land 
later known as "Beall'a Industry", which contained the mill, is 
the es^rliest mention of this property found in the Land Records 
of Montgo::Tier7 County, Maryland, It then belonged to Waiter Beall , 
How he obtained it Is unicnown. The deed recorded the srale of the 
property by Walter Beall to Peter Kerap and James Willson Perry, 
thru Upton Beall, his attorney. The date of this transaction was 
June 29, 1303. Containing "one hundred acres, more or less", the 
property sold for six hundred pounds. 

Perry died, and the rights to his moiety, or were 
conveyed by his children (then very young) by an enabling Act of 
the General Assembly to George W, Logan, on April '^^ 1814, Logan 
then conveyed the moiety to William Ga-nby, also on April 9, 1314, 
Canby, on July 23, 1314, obtained the other moiety (Kemp's), He 
then sold the property to George Janney, on Jferch 26, 1821. 

Janney, wanting to borrow money from the Farmer's and 
ilechanic's Bank of Georgetown, gave to the bank as security the 
notes of one Micajah Welding, who h^d made a conditional purchase 
of the lands and mill, Janney then conveyed to John J, Stull, the 
cashier of the banjc, thru tvm deeds, one on March 9, the other on 

lifey 2, both 1821, The sheriff of Montgomery County, acting due to 
default of Welding, conveyed to John J, Stull on March 1? and July 
18, 1823. The banK, after holding the property about a year, sold 
it to Nathan Luf borough thru its president and cashier (Stull), 


In this transaction the area mentioned is still "one hundred acres 
more or less", while the price is three thousand dollars, 

Lufborough associated himself with James Philins and 
Richard Israel. In 1847 Lufborough drew up a contract of sale with 
James L. Bond, Israel and Philips were in accord with this and the 
contract was signed on April 5, 1847, Then Lufhorough died hefore 
the pro erxy yans actun-lly sold, naming, in his will, his son, Hamil- 
ton, as executor, and leaving the Burnt .Mills property to his wife 
The wife, Harriet W., thru :iamiiton, conveyed the mill and land 
to Bond on Octoher 26, 1858, 

Bond then ran the mill for a period of about thirty years 
then, in a deed recorded Jfey 17, 18 )0, he sold the property to 
William 3. '.fennalcee and Samur-l D. "Waters, "quoting from the land 
Records, Bond and his wife , 

" for and in consideration of the sum of ten thous- 
and dollars, and divers other good and valuable considerations, 
have granted, bargained, and sold unto the said parties of the 
second part all of that lot or parcel of ground situate, lying, 
and being in said county which is distributed as follows; viz. 
It being all that portion or part of the land popularly or com- 
monly Known as the Burnt Mill, which lies north of the road ---- 

leading from the -Tiili to Golesviiie ani the 3andy Spring 

Meeting House." 

Waters and ;/^nnaicee ran the mill, under their names, as 
a firm until, in 1894, they decided on an amicable disrupting of 
their partnership. This resulted in a deed from Waters to T^nnaicee 


for that part of the tract containing the ITorthwest Branch and 
the miii. This tooic place 6n Jan, 24, 1394, Waters retaining the 
rest of the lands, Ifennakee received a little over sixteen acres 
with the mill. 

Ifennakee and his wife mortgaged the mill and land with 
the "Savings Institution of Sandy Spring", and when they default- 
ed, the property was taken over hy the iDanK:, i.)n July ''■■, l'>')6 the 
mill and land were sold to Dr. George W, Bready for six thousand 
one hundred dollars, thru Alban G. Thomas, his agent, DR. Bready 
was the inst o-'jmer of the mill while it was in operation. 

It has not been possible to ascertain the exact date 
of the discontinuance of operation of tbe mill, but it was in 
the early twenties of the twentieth century, it continued to 
stand idle until the spring of 1920, when it was torn down to 
the stone foundations, which alone remain to testify for the ac- 
tivity that once held s ay. 

- 1- 


SCALE r = .5' 



E. Construction, 
The gorge in which the mill lies, provides one of the 
"best locationa for a v^ater power mill in the section. The stream 
has a sufficiently rapid fall to provide the necessary head of 
water without an overly long race, A wide curve in the stream at 
this point allows further shortening of the race. Lastly, the for- 
mation of the if^nd is such 'hat a comtparatively small dam will 
impound a large qu3,ntity of water. 

The mill was driven originally by an overshot wheel 
supplied "by a ditched mill-race. This race wa.s dug from the dam 
to Gum Spring Branch (a tritutary of the M",\V, Branch at this 
point), following a straight iin€ from the dam to the mill. The 
Gum Spring Branch was then damme* and its bed used as part of 
the race J further man-made ditches carrying the water from the 
branch to the wheel. The water of the Gum Spring Branch was thus 
added to the race v/ater, (see Liber JA42, folio lO*^) 

The mill at this time consisted of only one section. 
The reference for this statement is a piat in the above mentioned 
Liber JA42, on which the mill is shown by a single rectangle. 
The meager informRtion given above is all th?='t wp s av^ilf'ble con- 
cerning the mill when driven by the wheel. 

The mill, aa a roller mill, consisted of two parts, fs 
shown in figures 1 & 2, Refering to fig, 1, it will be seen that 
the mill was of frame construction, above a stone foundation. As 
the frame portion of the mill has been destroyed, no detailed ^es- 


cription will be attempted. 

The walls of the left hand section (fig. 1.) vary in 
thicicnesa from, roughly, twenty- one to twenty- eight inches. They 
are in the shape of a rough rectangle, forty- one hy thirty- sev- 
en feet, the longer side paralleling the stream. Parallel to 
this long wall, and at an average distance from it of nine feet, 
runs an inner wall, A second inner inrall lies about the same dist- 
ance from the first. These walls all stand on the outcropping of 

the bed-rock at this point, 5'ig. 4. shows the walls In their rel- 
ative positions. The rear wall (away from the stream) is some 
feet higher than the front wall, as is seen in fig, 3. thru fig, 
6, In fig. 4,, however, the end only of this wall is visible, di- 
rectly above the penstock in the center of the picture, Further- 
more a good comparison of the construction of the walla of the 
two sections may be made from fig, 4, 

The walls of the foundation of the right hand section, 
(figs, l..?c 2.) average in thickness about two feet. This founda- 
tion, also a rectangle, is approxiiraately thirty by thirty-six 
feet. These walls are laid up with mortar joints, and are consid- 
erably more uniform than those of the other section, which are 
laid up without mortar, Outiroppings of the native rock also 
form the foundationfor these walls, , and even project into the 
corner nearest the fliirae about three' feet. Inside the foundation 
the ground slopes rapidly tov/ards the stream, the flour having 
rested on the ground at the rear and on a ledge in the wall 
some three feet above the ground at the front. 

The two sections are so placed that the wall townrd 


the stresun of the right hand section is fifteen feet further 
from the stream than the corresponding wall of the left hand 
section; while the rear wall of the former is eight feet fur- 
ther from the stream than the rear wall of the latter, (see 
fjigs, 7., 10., 11.) The two sections are separated hy a space 
of 11 feet thru which runs the turbine penstoclc. 

The only mention of a dam was in an article by the 
Rambler (Sunday Star May 14, 1916 ) in which he stated that the 
mill was supplied from water impounded by a concrete dam one 
hundred eighty feet long, seventeen feet high, seven feet thick 
at the base, and two feet thick at the top. This dam no longer 

The water was carried from the dam to the turbine by 
a concrete flume installed at the same peri id as the turbine, 
(refering to statement of lir. McCeney) Folxowing a curved path 
the flume had a length of approximately two hundred seventy- five 
yards (paced to site of old dam)» Irregularities of the land 
dictated this pnth thru the need for a gradual fail, and a min- 
imum amount of cutting and fixiing. Figs, 8, & 9. will give an 
idea of the path of the flume, looking from the discharge end. 
The waiis of the flume are about six inches thick, while the 
flume itself averages about five feet "^^ cross and four to four 
and one half feet deep, Refering to fig, 10, gives an idea of 
the construction of the discharge end of the flume, as well as 
its relative location with respect to the fouv.dations of the 
mill. Drive water for the turbine entered the penstock shown 


here, while the rectangular hoie was for overflow. The differ - 
ence m level between tne f±oor of the flume and the turbine 
is roughly seventeen feet. 

Removal or investigation of the turhine vraB found im- 
possible, it being too thoroughly rusted together for dissem- 
bling. The housing, however, is about three feet in diameter. 
The drive from this turbine was xhru a verxical shaft, (see figs- 
11, 12, 13. ) Fig, 12 shows the dog coupling used on this shaft. 
The shaft icself is 2-^" in diameter, tapering, m 6", under the 
gear iceyed to its upper end to 2 1/8 " in diameter. In fig, 12 
the amaller shaft (seen bent over to the left m fig. 11 ) is 
apparently the shaft of bhe control valve. 

Supporting the main drive gears and shafts, was the 
timber irameworic shown in figs. 11, 13, ±4, ib, . This fr»me- 
worjc was originally roofed over, (see figs, 1, 2, ) Sawmill 
timbers were used for this part as the saw marJcs are plainly 
visible. The majority of the beams used were 3" by 10" in 
cross section. The large piece lying on top parallel to the 
stone T/all, j^nd nearest to it, is 13" by 15" in cross section 
and 56" long. A detailed list of the measurements of the other 
members of the frameworic is considered unnecessary. This last 
mentioned timber carried the bearing for the horizontal shaft 
running into the mill. Hand made iron bolts of ■f" square stock 

upset and threaded for 2-^" to 3" were used to hold the frame- 
work together, along with, mortise and tenon joints in the timbEr, 


By looking closely 3.t figs, 14 MS, one mpy see the 
bevel gear }ceyed to the turbine shaft. The upper support for 
this shaft was a babbited journal bearing above the gear. As 
for the gear itself, it was of cast iron, having 34 teeth, an 
outside diameter of approxinKitely 23", and a width of face of 
6". The circular pitc'i measures roughly two inches. This /^ear 
meshed with another bevel gear on a horizontal sh-^ft running 
into the mill. The construction of this second gear id of inter- 

While only the segment sho\7n in figs, 16 ^c 17 is 
left, that is sufficient to show the original form of the gear. 
It was about three feet m diameter and had a frameof cast iron 
in which were set wooden teeth. This frame was in the form of a 
bevel gear in which the teeth were replaced by a series of equ- 
ally spaced slots. The face was 7 i/a " wide. The larger end of 
each slot was 7/8" wide, the smaller end, 3/4" wide; while the 
sides of the siot were 5 7/l6" long and were placed as elements 
of the face cone. Thru these slots were driven wooden teeth, 
the part projecting above the face in each case being formed as 
a single gear tooth, while the part projecting below in each 
case was in the form of a dove- tail with the large end at the 
bottom. Consecutive teeth were then loclced in place by a wood- 
en wedge also in the form of a dove- tail (large side up) which 
fitted between those on the teeth, (see sketch, also gives ap- 
proximfite size of xhe vfooden tooth,) 


So other material than the statement of IJi- , Tacicer was 
found pertaining to the roachinery within the mill. According to 
him the millcontained, first, a cleaner for the wheat brouj^ht to 
the mill, ■From this cleaner the '.vher-.t was conveyed to a hopper 
and then weighed, the farmer "being paid for the clean wheat. The 
w'leat was then stored, TaKen from as required, and carried 
hy conveyer hel's and bucket elevators, the w'-^eat was lifted to a 
hopper at the top of the mill. Gravity feed then carried it to the 
rolls, of which there ^/ere "ten double stands". These were steel 
rolls, v;ith different clearences between the rolls for crushing 
in the different steps. Between each step of the rolls there were 
elevators to raise the wheat for the next step. The first rolls 
removed the hulls from the wheat, etc. 

During the rolling the wheat was cleaned at times by 
fans, etc, the information not being very cle«r here. The last 
operation ws "bolting", where the flour was sifted thru a l-^rge 
piece of silic, called the "bolt''. The flour passed thru the cloth 
while the screenings were led off to one side, dumrjed on the floor 
and sold as feed. There were three gr-'des of flour, depending on 
the fineness and whiteness. Further, a set of stones for grinding 
corn Ileal were retained, since stone grouni meal h-^ s a better rep- 
utation than roll ground meal. The majority of the machinery was 
housed in the section on the right in figs. 1 & 2. 

The razing of the frame portions of the mill has left 
only certain of the sills of the older section in evidence. These 
!Tiay be seen in figs. 3, 4, 5, 6. They are hand he\'7n, ll" by 13" 
and have a slOTing lap joint cut m them where they were joined. 
This joint was held by four wooden pins l" to i4-" in diameter and 
projecting 6" out of the lower half into the upper half. 


A cast iron pulley lies in t'-.e stream directly before 
fn-e mill. It is 47 i/2" in diameter and has an 8" f'^^.ce, Sm^^ll sec- 
tions of t-.e conYeyor end elevator belts, also, are lying on the 
ground around the mill, one still having an elevator bucJcet atta- 
ched; but these are the only remaining evidences of all this ma- 


Pirst mention of the mill in the lanti records of Mont- 
gomery County, is in 1H03, ?rom this time the Tiill chans:ed h-^nds 
several times, and was changed ^nd iriiproTed by t-ie repls,cing of 
the wheel "by a turbine, xhe race by ^ concrete flume, and the sto- 
nes by a roller mill. At present the stone foundations of the 
mill, the concrete flume, and the turbine (buried m xhe ground) 
are alone left on the site? thrill having ceas'd operavion about 
ten years ago, ?nd the fr^me sections having been torn down early 
in iy38. 

Bound volume of the articJes published in the Sunday Star by Mr, 
Harry Shannon under the name of "The Rambler", 0'.vned by t'le 7/ash- 
ingtonlana section of the Public Library of the District of Col- 
umbia, Vol, 1 f pages 44 - 101 ; Vol, 2 , page 25 , 
The Land Records of Llontgoraery Count/, Md,, at Eockville, libers 
JA 42 (109); JA 2 (336); JGH 7 (265); X 311 ; L 1^ . 
A statement by lir. W. McCeney, a farmer of the secti3n who has 
lived near the mill all his life". 

A statement by i.j:. TucKer, at present the blacksmith at Burnt Wills 
and formerly employed in the mill while it was in operation. 


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