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THE MILLING OF WHEAT
Methods of Milling.—“The first miller plucked the berry from the stalk, and using his teeth for millstones, ground grist for a customer who would not be denied—his stomach." All millers who have succeeded this first pioneer have made use of various forms of apparatus to make the grinding process easier and more effective. There have been three distinct types of mills from which all others are only variations, and each one of which effects the reduction of the grain by a method peculiar to itself: (1) The mortar and pestle type, in which the work is done by grinding and rubbing; (2) some form of the machine having two roughened surfaces, between which the grain is crushed or cut through the motion of one, and sometimes of both, of the surfaces; (3) the roller system of milling, involving a gradual reduction or granulation process in which the grain of wheat is separated into particles and reduced to successive degrees of subdivision by being passed between rolls, first corrugated and then smooth, each successive series of which has an increased approximation of surfaces. The Mortar and Pestle Type.—The second miller was always
This initial stage in the development of milling was marked by several types of grinding devices.
HANDSTONES.—Our knowledge of handstones, or stones, goes back to the paleolithic period. Such stones were
doubtless first used for pounding nuts and acorns. The same type was used the world over, and there is an abundance of specimens. The grain was placed upon a second stone with a flat surface. Pounding with the globular
stone caused, a cup to be hollowed out MEXICAN HANDSTONE
of the lower stone. Within a few feet of each other, 26 such hollows have been found in the rock near an Indian settlement at El Paso, Texas. They are found in many parts of the world.
CORN MORTAR AND
THE MORTAR AND PESTLE.—In time, the globular crusher became oval in form, which was of great advantage when the cups became deep. Eventually, it elongated into the pestle. Nomadic tribes found it advantageous to utilize a portable rock
for the under stone. Shaped outside as well as inside, this became the grain mortar. Wooden mortars and pestles
now also made in imitation of those made of stone. The wooden mortars were sometimes 2 feet in diameter, and the pestles 4 feet in length. The first development in the direction of grinding instead of pounding was when the pestle was ridged at the bottom, and the grain was partly pounded and partly grated by giving rotary motion to the handle of the pestle or
pounder. THE “SADDLE' STONE is another type of primitive milling devices. The upper surface of this was made concave, and in the hollow thus formed the grain was rubbed or ground by another stone, the muller, which was not rolled, but worked backward and forward. This was the first real grinding. Experience proved that the upper stone should be ridged. From the saddle stone evolved all later forms of milling stones.
These early forms of the mill have been used throughout the world. Babylon, Nineveh, Assyria and Egypt used them, and they are found in the prehistoric Swiss lake dwellings. The Romans of Virgil's time ground their grain by hand between two marble slabs. Many of the early forms of mills have been used in the United States. The settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts, used the mortar for a decade or two. In the “hominy block” of early Pennsylvania, the bowl was a big block of wood burned or dug out. Sometimes it was found inside of the cabin, and also served as an article of furniture. At other times it was merely a convenient stump in front of the cabin door. In the latter case a nearby sapling was often bent over and attached to the pestle, which it helped raise. Such mills were replaced by power mills as soon as population had increased sufficiently to make the latter profitable. The Greeks of the mortar period made the first recorded milling revolution by using male operatives. These were called "pounders."
THE QUERN was the first complete grinding machine in which the parts were mechanically combined, and it also introduced the circular motion. It was apparently unknown before 200 B. C., but it was widely used at the dawn of the Christian era, and it is often mentioned in the Bible. The first form of the lower stone was conical, but the later type was flattened. The upper stone conformed to the pattern of its mate. Hollowed out in the centre until there was a hole at its base, the upper stone also served as a grain hopper. The stone was turned by a
handle inserted in its side. An important improvement was made at an early date when the grinding faces of the stone were grooved, for the edges facilitated grinding and the grooves served as channels through which the meal was forced to the rim of the stones. This was a rude foreshadowing of the principles of methodical furrowing, a process which was not fully developed until the era of wat mills. The quern was the original British flour mill, and it is claimed that it was still used in the mountainous parts of Scotland a decade ago. When the quern was large the upper stone had two handles. Women did the grinding. In Homer's time, the millers were also women, and it required the labor of from one-tenth to onesixteenth of the community to prepare flour. Ever since the making of flour became a distinct trade, milling has been esteemed as an honorable occupation. A sturdy and independent character was always ascribed to the miller, and he and his mill have been a favorite theme with the writers of all ages.
Slave and Cattle Mills.—For many centuries the greatest changes in the milling industry were made in the motor power rather than in the grinding process itself. The advent of the quern and its improvements brought the professional miller, who marked the beginning of manorial or village milling. As the quern increased in size it ceased to be a hand mill, and power was applied. At first slaves, and even criminals, supplied the power. A circular piece of wood was placed around their necks, so that they were unable to put their hands to the mouth and eat of the meal. There were also cattle mills which were similar to the slave mills, and for many years in Rome, “the human animals and their brute companions performed the flour-making of the Eternal City.” Cattle mills increased in number after the abolition of slavery in the fourth century. As early as 1537; treadmills were worked by convicts in Europe. They are still found in some countries, and are the sole survivors of the old Roman slave mills. The slave and cattle mills were supposed to have preceded the water mills, but the latter have existed in northern and western Europe prior to all historic records. They were also found in Greece, and later in Rome. Besides the hand querns, the ancient Egyptians had a larger quern that was worked by oxen,
Wind and Water Mills.—In many cases the wind mill appeared before the water mill. In early England wind was utilized to a greater extent than water, and wind mills were in existence at least as early as 1191. With the development of the mill stone, the grist mill appeared. The miller now ground for a larger district, and exacted toll, called “millcorn, from the farmers. The mills were generally owned by the lords of manors, who farmed them and their appurtenant privileges to the millers. The water mill was introduced into England at the time of Julius Cæsar. In France, Italy and elsewhere mention of it became common in the fifth century. It was exactly like the band mill, except that water was used for power. Tidal mills were worked as early as 1526. The water was impounded at high tide, and the mills worked during the ebb. The wind mill seems to have come into use in England about 1200. The first milling by steam was in England in 1784.
The earliest mills in the United States were operated by horse power, and the toll was higher than at those where water
or wind power was used. The first mills of the Red river valley were operated by oxen, or by wind power. In 1870 there were 22 flour mills in South Carolina that were operated by horse