History of the Mill
In 1859, Mr. Henry Koontz of Frostburg, MD purchased a 600 acre farm near Easton, Virginia (now West Virginia), a small community approximately 3 miles east of Morgantown. He was initially engaged in the coal business. In 1864, he decided to start a new business, and engaged Henry Mack, a carpenter from Philadelphia, to construct a new grist mill. This was the start of the present day Easton Roller Mill.
The mill was originally equipped for stone grinding, with the stones being driven by a steam engine. Coal was easily available while water power in the area was undependable for a source of power. Corn, wheat, rye, oats and buckwheat were the grains that were ground.
The mill was operated by Mr. Koontz until his death in 1876. After his death, the mill was owned and operated by his wife's family, the Andersons, from 1876 until 1884, when a family quarrel resulted in the sale of the mill. Other owners included Eldridge Cleaver (1884), Isaac Morris (1884-1910) and William C. Ley (1910-1941). Isaac Morris was an innovator who adopted the new (1910) roller mill technology that had been developed in Hungary to the Easton Mill. This equipment remains in the mill today. Estella Ley Pickenpaugh, William C. Ley's daughter, willed the mill to the Monongalia Historical Society which took possession on March 13, 1980.
On October 16, 1988, the Monongalia Historical Society began holding an annual Mill Day observance to acquaint the general public with the historical significance of the mill. Until 1994, this observance was held in October close to Halloween. A Miller, wih a portable stone mill and hit-and-miss engine, would grind corn and sell the resulting meal to the public. Tours were given in the mill, crafts persons exhibited crafts and mountain music was performed by local artists. In 1994, two changes were made to Mill Day. The first was to hold the festival in late September, and the second was to serve a pancake breakfast.
Description of the Mill
The mill is constructed of wood with an oak frame which is pegged and braced. The frame rests on a laid stone foundation which is two feet wide and is exposed from two to six feet above the basement floor. Floors are made of rough softwood boards except for the basement which is earth. The building's dimensions are thirty-feet six-inches wide by fifty-six feet four- inches long. It is two and one-half stories high with a basement. It presently has a corrugated steel roof.
The basement houses the prime mover, a Lane and Bodney single cylinder, double action steam engine (circa 1874) rated at approximately 40 horsepower. This engine was built in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also located in the basement are a hammer mill, a millstone hurst frame, various elevators and line shafts.
The first floor houses the Miller's office, various elevators and chutes, equipment used for the corn milling operation, millstones and roller mills. The first floor is the heart of the milling operation. The millstones were the original process for grinding flour. The roller mills were added later in 1894.
The second floor was used for the refining and purification processes. Here we find a flour chest or bin where the finished flour was kept until it was packed by the miller. The flour refining machinery, located on this floor, consists of two types, rough and fine. The sieve scalper is an example of rough refining. It separates the bran or remaining grist and the raw flour from course material. This mill has five of these machines.
The third floor contains a grain cleaner which scours wheat before it goes into the roller mills. There is also a bran duster which recovers small amounts of flour that the rolls and regular dressers fail to dislodge. This floor contains the drive system for the elevators and serves for storage.