Respect for Past Turns Up Grist Mill History

| November/December 1998

950 Sanderson Road Sardis, Tennessee 38371

On the 4th weekend in September 1995, the Jimmy Sanderson family (my brother) and I held the first Sardis Antique Farm and Home Show. When we invited people to it, most looked at us funny because they had never heard of an antique farm show. To make a long story short, the dust still has not settled and we formed an association that winter. Our motto is 'Restoration, Preservation and Education for Future Generations Is Our goal.' Furthermore we feel that the stories that go with the items of the past are just as important. For this reason we designated two of our older couples as our historic advisors because of how they had encouraged and inspired us with their vast knowledge of the past.

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph White of Reagan have a great amount of hands-on experience in farming in the Midwest. Mr. White even had experience with binders, threshers and steam engines, things that were uncommon in our region when they were being used. People in our region lived off of cotton and corn-bread, farming with horses and mules, and a good number share cropping. Any tractor was not common. Old farmers could still be found farming with teams in the early Sixties.

Our other couple is the Willerd Spains of Scotts Hill. Mr. Spain has done mechanical work all his life, back to his younger days, working on Heath-cock and Rush hit and miss engines that were made in Jackson.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Spain told me 'If only I were five years younger,' referring to being able to do more restoration work for antique showing. This is where my story begins.

In early 1996 Mr. Spain purchased a grist mill that had been in a store basement in Scotts Hill for over 30 years. He took it home, dismantled it, and restored it to operating condition by the summer of 1997. He rebuilt the engine from an MH Mustang, built a two wheel trailer, mounted the engine and grist mill up to run, grew and dried corn, and ground most of it at our show the fourth weekend in September, giving most of it away.