A entire chapter in the forthcoming AROUND THE COUNTY.
It’s easy to take bread for granted, the first thing grabbed off supermarket shelves as people prepare for any apocalypse. And not only bread, but other products of wheat flour, everything from biscuits to pasta. But the county’s early pioneers did not have supermarkets from which to obtain bread or flour, they didn’t even have grist mills to produce it. And they had to grow the wheat!
Laboring over grinding stones with hand pestles, pioneers cleared land, plowed, planted, harvested, winnowed, and stored wheat (and other grains, especially corn) before turning their energies to building mills. Big grinding stones were turned first by harnessed mules or horses then by water power as streams were channeled to turn big mill wheels. Millwrights had to know their business, not only in the methods of capturing and directing a suitable flow of water but also in the construction of the wheels and the many mechanisms of the operation.
At first, Fayetteville settlers had to travel to Natural Dam to find a mill, then to Evansville. It wasn’t until 1836 that Fayetteville gained its first local mill, and twelve more would follow. Local mills would continue their important work for nearly a century before mechanization and corporate farms would undermine their profitability, thus ending a long mainstay of the local economy.