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Joines Mill

Eva Brooks Campbell

The mill is located in the center of Joines community, three miles northwest of Traphill next to the bridge that spans Roaring River. The date of construction and the builder of the mill are unknown, but it is said to have been built shortly after the Revolutionary War. The first owner and perhaps the builder of the mill was Lewis Johnson, the son of Captain Sam Johnson, a Captain in the Revolutionary War. The first mill dam was built about halfway between the present dam and the mill.

Austin Lyon and Billy Sparks were the operators of the mill after Lewis Johnson. Mr. Lyon, no doubt, was well respected, since Austin community was named in his honor. Wesley Joines bought Billy Sparks’s interest in the mill, and for a number of years he and Austin Lyon ran the mill jointly.

The mill business continued to grow, and Mr. Joines reconstructed the building and added another story to it. After a time Wesley Joines bought Austin Lyon’s interest in the mill. He hired millers to operate the mill for him, among who were Vallet Yale, Jesse Yale, Nathan Royal, Jim Franklin, and Jim Wooten. At this time, approximately 1895, a grist mill and wheat mill were in operation. Wheat, corn, buckwheat, and rye were ground for bread. Chop was ground for feed.

Mr. Joines was a very successful and progressive businessman. After he had remodeled his mill building, he added lumbering to his business, purchasing a sawmill and putting it into operation. The sawmill cut lumber for various house patterns, and a shingle mill cut shingles to roof houses.

In 1913, Hardin Joines, son of Wesley, inherited the mill. Hardin hired Coy Johnson as the miller. The sawmill was still in operation at this time. In 1920 a new dam was built, and the mill was turned over to John Joines, the son of Hardin. The mill continued to grow until 1940 when, unfortunately, a flood washed out part of the sawmill and damaged part of the race. The race was rebuilt, but the sawmill was not restored.

The Mill in Operation

Wheat was ground in what was called a French burr mill. Rocks that ground it were 42″ in diameter and came from France by ship to Charlestown, S.C. They were brought by oxcart to the mill at Traphill. The corn was ground in a 42″ diameter, less expensive rock, which was purchased at Salisbury, N.C.

The water came down the race from the dam and went by the trunk to the wheel. A gate was used to control the amount of water coming out of the water house and flowing down the trunk. The gate was controlled by hand.

The water wheel was called a center discharge wheel. This device changes the energy of falling water into a form of mechanical energy that can be used for running machinery. The last source of waterpower in nature is found in waterfalls and rapids in rivers. The water is directed into the wheel through a chute. The wheel is mounted on an axle, which is connected by belts or gearing with the machinery it is to operate. The wheel has many carved blades or buckets, depending on the type of wheel. The water strikes the blades or buckets with great force and causes the wheel to spin. This spin makes the shaft rotate, which in turn rotates the shaft of the machinery. The amount of work done by a waterwheel is equal to the weight of the water multiplied by the distance the water falls if there are no losses such as friction losses.

There are two main types of waterwheels, the vertical and horizontal. This mill had the vertical type, the overshot wheel. The overshot wheel has a series of buckets around the circumference of the wheel. These buckets are so arranged that the stream of water falls on the wheel just above the center of the wheel. The weight of the rushing water causes the wheel to rotate. When the water-filled buckets reach the bottom, the water flows out and the buckets are refilled when they reach the top again. This type of water wheel is said to have a very high efficiency, which sometimes reaches 80 per cent.

The grain was put into a hopper, and the shaker located underneath the hopper shook the grain and poured it down into the center half of the first rock. The set screw located at the side of the shaker regulated the texture in which the grain was to be ground. It could be set from fine to coarse. If it was too fine, the oil was heated too much in the corn and the flower of the cornmeal was destroyed.

The shaft, which came up through the rocks, was powered by the center discharge wheel. The power furnished by this wheel turned the shaft, and the shaft in turn turned the rocks, which ground the grain.

The Mill’s Decline

The mill’s decline began when a flood washed out part of the sawmill and the race. The sawmill was not restored, but the mill was partially in use for about 12 years, or until 1952. Mr. John Joines was the last owner and operator. He did some grinding until 1952. Then the old mill was left to rest. It had been in operation for some 150 or 160 years. As time went on, the dam slowly washed away and the race caved in.

The old mill still holds fascination for the visitors it has now — mostly curious children who just want to look around. It houses many memories of good times and bad. The voices of the people who used to gather there visiting with neighbors are no longer heard. They linger only in the minds of those who fondly remember the old Joines Mill.