The Francis Grist Mill – Part I

Francis Grist Mill Waynesville NCWhy the Francis Grist Mill?

This conversation started while eating a decadent chocolate cake I designed for a friend’s birthday party.  What type of flour did I use?  Flour is a vast topic in its own right.  And I shall be delving into flours in future posts.  But for now,   there’s a bit of Haywood County history that I would like to share with you.  We have our own Grist Mill in Waynesville and it is running.

History

I visited the Francis Grist Mill in 2006 as part of the Cold Mountain Tour and to research information for a county website.  I am sharing the information I was told then.  However, our conversation from the other night peaked my interest,  so I am revisiting the mill from a new perspective and will soon have an update.

The question is… if you lived in Haywood County in 1887, where would you go for news, gossip, and the discussion of political and community issues?

Answer:  The Francis Grist Mill.

What could a grist mill and community gossip have in common?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, grist is a grain or a batch of grain for grinding, and a gristmill is a building where grain is ground.  And in 1887, all the farmers had grain.

Francis Grist Mill in Waynesville NCThe story of the Francis Grist Mill (as I was told) begins with a young man named William Francis, who moved from Tennessee to Haywood County to seek his fortune. When he arrived, he met, dated and later married a young lady named Polly Almon.  Polly just happened to be the daughter of Gideon Almon, who, at the time, is said to have been the richest man in Haywood County.

The story continues with Mr. Almon being so fond of William Francis that he gave the couple one square mile of land as a wedding present. You can get a feeling of how much land that is every time you leave Waynesville via Pigeon Street and take a drive on the land that still bears his name, Francis Cove Road.

William Francis built the grist mill in the middle of this land. It was not only the place for the farmers to have their corn processed, but it was arguably the social hall of the county. As the rotating stones ground the corn into meal, everyone would catch up on news and swap stories.

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.

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