Vintage Meadows Mill Co. Gristmill Still Grinding

Retired teacher preserves old hand-crank gristmill, now powered by tractor

| October 2000

  • Buel Upton
    Buel Upton and his trailer equiped with an operating Meadows Mill Co. gristmill and supplies.
    Craig Roth

  • Buel Upton

Buel Upton is a retired teacher, but he hasn’t stopped teaching.

His classroom today is a trailer housing a decades-old gristmill; his students are people who’ve never seen a mill in action.

“It used to be that every little country store had a gristmill,” the Raymond, Miss., man said. “But I knew it was becoming a thing of the past, and I wanted one.”

Buel already had a gristmill when, about 16 years ago, he learned of another one for sale.

“It was sold in November 1958 by Sears,” he said. “It was a Meadows Mill, made in North Carolina. It had been used briefly in a little country store, and then put away in a Quonset hut. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted it. … It was so much better than the one I had.”

After he got it home, he took the entire thing apart to see the grinding stones, check the mill’s condition, clean and repaint it.

“They do sharpen the rocks on these things,” he said. “The rocks have grooves. If they touch, that’s what grinds. If they don’t touch, they have to be re-grooved. Mine has never been re-grooved. When older folks see this, they always ask if the rocks have been re-sharpened.”