Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grist Mills: Early Cabarrus County Industry

   
Most of us have an image of our early Cabarrus ancestors farming the land and growing their own food. After all, they did not saddle up the family horse and ride down to the corner store for a loaf of bread - at least, not as we drive to the supermarket today. The women in each household usually baked their own bread from the grains grown on their own farms. But rarely did each family grind its own grain into flour. For that, they relied on the nearby miller and his grist mill, one of the earliest industries in the county.

Bost Grist Mill then (top) and now (above). Used to
grind corn, wheat and other grains into flour and meal,
Bost Grist Mill has served Cabarrus County since the
early 1800s. Photos courtesy of www.bostgristmill.com
and the North Carolina Digital Collection.
Cabarrus County court records list at least thirty mills between 1795 and 1860. Most are grist mills using the water power of a nearby stream to grind corn or wheat into flour. In some cases, these mills also used water power to saw lumber, to gin cotton and grind and stamp gold. A few of the mills we know include George Masters' Mill, Buffalo Creek; Bost's Mill, Rocky River; Garmon's Mill, Coddle Creek; and Faggart's Mill, Cold Water Creek.

There were even grist mills located in present-day Concord: Alexander McLarty's Mill was on Irish Buffalo Creek near Cabarrus Avenue and Isbon Cannon's Mill was also in town. Both mills sold or bartered extra flour, collected as grist mill fees, to townspeople who did not grow their own grains.

Few mill sites still exist today, but their memories linger in the names of some of our coummunities like Mill Grove in western Cabarrus and Bost's Mill in southeastern Cabarrus. Additional information on Cabarrus County Mills may be found in the Minutes of the Cabarrus County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions; By the Old Mill Stream by the Harrisburg School Stephen Cabarrus History Club; and in the Local History Collection vertical files of the Concord Library.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore History Room

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