The Stone Buhr

By Staff
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I grew up eating corn meal and graham products from the family
operated stone buhr. My maternal granddad became a miller in 1907,
using only the one mill powered by portable engines. He acquired a
mill that was installed in 1880, powered by a water turbine and a
smaller turbine to power the flouring equipment. This was setup on
land not yet owned by the builder. Whether this 1859 patent was new
or used is not known, but water source problems and other issues
ended its career on the river. Through changes of hands the
structure was torn down to build a barn.

Fuzzy facts again arise as to granddad buying the mill or how it
was acquired. One story has him rescuing it from the river. An
uncle now deceased recalled a four horse team and wagon bringing
the 2,600 pound mill home to be in the dry until a millhouse was
completed in 1907. Custom grinding each Friday and finishing on
Saturday was common scheduling until the 1930s. This was a service
to a widespread community to grind grain for man and beast.

Dennis Rupert’s 1917 Rumely 14-28 belted to Lester
Pierce’s 1859 Spring Mill stone buhr at this year’s Rumely
Expo in Lathrop, Mo.

A stone buhr is not fast, but corn and wheat and oats were
ground. Corn meal and wheat flour were a community staple, and
corn, wheat and oats were commonly used for hog feed, mixed
together with water or milk for slop.

Operation of a mill is beyond the memory of most people, but it
doesn’t seem so long ago to me. This old Spring Mill has a
large, wooden, square hopper to feed grain down through a hollow
shaft that turns the upper horizontal stone. The lower horizontal,
30 inch stone remains still, other than when a hand wheel is turned
to raise the bolster holding it. Raising or lowering the bottom
stone regulates the coarseness of the grist. The upper stone and
shaft are turned by a 30 inch flat belt pulley. Belt guides
somewhat on the order of a fairlead were originally used to keep
the belt on edge, which allowed a twist to a vertical powering
pulley. The top stone is hinged so it can be lifted to expose the
stones for sharpening with a Paulding hammer. This chipping in a
spiraling manner provides the gristing ability.

Now comes my current interest, other than running the mill every
chance I get. This mill was powered by a 16-30 Rumely for many
years. The 2001 Rumely Expo was held in Lathrop, Mo., this past
June. The Lathrop club hosted most models of Rumely from distant
states to put on a show and provide memories and examples of our
past. I keep the mill on a trailer, so I drove the 63 miles to
Lathrop to find a 16-30 to belt up to the mill. Dennis Rupert of
Hillsdale, Mich., obligingly belted up his 1917 Rumely 14-28 and
pulled the mill. That fine old 14-28 of his really ran nice, and
its performance with the mill seemed so natural.

Contact Lester E. Pierce at 4998 320 St., Stanberry, MO

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