By Frances Lowery Garner
Some of my fondest childhood memories took place at the old grist mill located on Halso Mill Road in the Pigeon Creek community.
The mill was a valuable part of this and surrounding communities since cornbread and grits were staples in the kitchen of every farm family.
The mill was name after the original owner, a Mr. Halso and then in later years following his death, his step-children, the Millers ran the mill.
During the depression years, there were cabins along the creek bank for a good recreation area and it was the subject of many picnics and baptizing.
My older brothers were baptized in the creek that ran the mill and so were a lot of other young and older people from the Pigeon Creek community.
The baptizing would ordinarily take place on a Sunday afternoon and there would always be someone there swimming in warm weather.
Across the road was a store, also owned by the Halso family and this was a busy place, as town was over 15 miles away with very limited transportation in the early 30’s
The Halso home was located next to the store and an open well that welcomed those who came by and were thirsty for a good drink of cold water.
A dipper fashioned from a dried gourd was the family and community glass.
As the corn meal began to get low in the tall 50 pound lard can setting in the pantry, Daddy would prepare to go to mill.
The corn sheller was in the crib where we would shuck and shell the corn.
Only good corn was selected for the corn meal.
It must not have weevils, the little tiny bugs that liked the dry corn, in it.
Daddy could shuck faster than me and sometimes would have to break off the ends of the shuck since my strength was far from matching his big strong hands.
Then we would feed the yellow ears into the round steel piece on the end of the sheller with spikes inside and turn the crank.
The corn would come off the cob and fall right into the sheller.
We would do this until Daddy thought we had enough to fill two large white, clean cloth sacks,
This would make enough corn meal to last us a good while and also give the miller his share.
One of my older brothers would have a truck to take ours and enough for his family, so off to the mill we would go.
The water mill looked like a small cabin that was built over the creek, which was dammed up.
The floor was made of smooth planks that were always swept clean and the smell of the fresh ground corn permeated throughout the mill house.
The grinding was done by two large stone wheels, one on the bottom and one on top.
The shelled corn was poured in a wood box built around the shaft of the first wheel.
It went down to the second wheel and was ground between the two stone wheels.
The miller could adjust the wheels for fine corn meal or for coarse if you wanted to make grits.
Periodically, the wheels would have to be removed for sharpening.
When the meal was ground, it was warm and could taste the fresh flavor of the corn.
A box was under the mill house that would have a gate to it with an iron rod going into the mill house.
The gate would have to be raised from the mill house to allow the water to turn the wheels.
The gates would remain open for as long as the mill was grinding and would have to be shut off when the miller was finished.
The creek was situated over a spring so it never got too low to grind corn.
The miller would measure the meal by one half bushel measure and his pay would be his portion of the meal which could be sold in town.
A ten pound sack of corn meal would 50 cents back in the 40’s.
Most people preferred the water ground meal, which was ground slow and differed from the meal that was run off gas.
The gas mill would run so fast the meal would have a scorched taste. (To be cont.)