Francis Grist Mill – Part II

Francis Grist Mill Wheel The mill has been handed down through generations, remaining in family hands. William Francis had a son named Monteville Pinkney Francis who spent his life running the mill. His son, Dewey V. Francis inherited the mill upon his death, and kept the mill in regular operation until his death in 1976.

The mill then passed on to his daughter, Hester Ann Francis Boone.  Boone wanted to restore the mill into its original condition, but it is Tanna Timbes, Boone’s daughter, who inherited the mill in 2003, that is seeing it through.

Tanna Timbes along with friends and family, formed the non-profit organization, The Francis Mill Preservation Society, and is dedicated to bring this Haywood County icon to life and preserve the Francis legacy.

With the help of the Heritage Conservation Network and the Society for Preservation of Old Mills, workshops for the mill restoration are held each summer. All the restoration work performed on the mill during the last two years consists of donated wood and volunteer labor.

As with most wheel-driven mills, a large gear-wheel was mounted on the same axle as the water wheel. This wheel drove a smaller gear-wheel on a main driveshaft running vertically from the bottom to the top of the building.

It was this power that controlled two stones; which were laid one on top of the other. The bottom stone, is fixed to the floor, while the top stone, is mounted on a separate spindle, driven by the main shaft. The grain would enter the top stone and through a process of furrows, it would be ground while making its way out from between the stones.

The mill is operational and I purchased a bag of cornmeal.   Stay tuned as I use that meal in one of their favorite recipes.

To Be Continued…

For more information on the mill, its ongoing restoration, and how you can help, please visit www.francismill.org.

The mill is approximately 2.4 miles from Main Street, Waynesville on Highway 276 SOUTH. GPS coordinates are 35 degrees 28-48N, 82 degrees 57-45 W. The elevation is about 2739 ft.

Francis Grist Mill was a stop on the Cold Mountain Tour in 2006.
The tour is scheduled every summer in Haywood County, North Carolina.

Note: If any corrections need to be made, please contact us.