Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wade Mick's Mill

Wade Mick’s Mill
By Uncle Zeke
Wade Mick has a good grist mill,
Its equal can’t be found
In grinding out your daily meal
He hustles things around.
From morn ‘till night, the wheel turns ‘round
And then from night ‘till morn.
And every time that wheel turns ‘round
It grinds a grain of corn.

Now Wade’s a pretty jolly soul,
And jokes he likes to crack.
He takes your grist to pay the toll
And sometimes takes the sack.

When Wade gets up with the early bird,
And nothing in his way
I do believe upon my word,
He can grind a peck a day.
And when the judgement day comes ‘round,
And Gabriel blows his horn
I think that Wade Mick will be found,
A grinding of the corn.

by David Parmer with Cecil Mick
Wade Hampton Mick was the son of Nicholas Mick and his second wife, Jane Litel Queen. Nicholas Mick was a native of Harrison County and was a miller by trade. Wade was born in 1876 near Heaters in Braxton County. He was first married to the former Ida Belle Myers of the Knawl’s Creek area. They had eight children: Beauford, Elias "Dink", James, Orville, Robert, Dana, Nellie, and Bertha. After his wife Ida Belle died in 1912, Wade married Minerva Riffle, a widow who lived on Posey Run.

According to the family history, Wade worked with his father in the grist milling business in Harrison County and after the death of his father moved parts of his father’s grist mill by train from Harrison County to Orlando. Taking residence on Posey Run, Wade moved the grist mill machinery to his home on Posey Run by wagon. Although the date of the move from Harrison County is not positively known, family tradition has Wade moving to Posey Run around the turn of the 20th century.

Wade operated a grist mill on Posey Run until 1933 when he purchased land in Orlando from Elizabeth Rush. From Orlando’s early days this had been the site of a livery stable. This parcel was located between the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad line (the former Coal & Coke right of way) and the Clover Fork Road, and just west of Mike Moran’s Wholesale Building (the white warehouse that stands today).

Above, Wade Hampton Mick and Ida Belle (Myers) Mick.
To the right, Earl (Bill) Mollohan is standing on the bridge into Orlando. Wade Mick's mill is behind him on the right, and the warehouse is behind that. On the left is Charlie Knight's store.

Immediately Wade and his son Beauford began construction of a building to house his grist mill operation. The building was 20 x 25 feet with a stone foundation from the ground to the floor of the building. This massive foundation served two purposes: it was high enough to avoid flooding and strong enough to hold the weight which was expected to be in the building. The building was completed by early spring of 1934.

Wade and Beauford commenced the grist milling operation on the basis of “shares.” This means that the miller does not charge money to grind the grain but instead charges the farmer one gallon of the finished product for each bushel milled. The grinding mechanism was calibrated to remove the miller’s share from the larger amount when it was ground. Wade primarily ground corn, but occasionally he would grind wheat which required an adjustment of the burrs. There were large storage bins to hold the ground grain which Wade would sell to customers.

The Equipment
Wade’s granddaughter Ruth (Mick) Gay, who is now 82, recalls that when she was young her grandfather bought a new gasoline engine for the mill. The engine originally was gasoline driven but was later converted so that it could also use natural gas. Cecil Mick recalls that the mill had two 16 inch stone wheels, one stationary and one which turned, which were purchased by his grandfather from Dixie King Burrs in Harrisburg, Kentucky. When Cecil tore the mill down around 1973 these stones were sold to a mill located in Coshocton, Ohio, which at last report is still using the stones. The mill also had a crusher with stone burrs which would crush field corn, cob and all, into a rough cut which was used as livestock feed.

An example of a Witte "Junior" Engine like Wade Mick installed in the mill is above, to the right.
Above left is a 12 inch steel burr crusher for full ears of corn.
To the right is a 16 inch Dixie Stone Burr Grist Mill.

Beauford Takes Over
Wade’s sons, Beauford and Elias (known as “Dink”) worked with their father in the milling of the grain, and continued the milling operations after their father’s death. Wade Mick died in 1939 and his widow, Minerva (Riffle) Mick, inherited the estate of her husband. Minerva was Wade’s second wife and had no children of her own. The mill property in Orlando was purchased from Minerva by her step-son Robert Mick in 1940 and was re-conveyed by Robert to his younger brother Beauford in April 1940. Beauford continued to operate the mill until October 1941 when operations ceased because of financial necessity.

The Great Depression which began in 1929 was still sapping the energies of the country twelve years later. The New Deal policies of the 1930s had done little to stimulate the economy in central West Virginia and if you didn’t have a government job, or a politician’s pull, times were tough. These stark economic realities forced Beauford Mick to seek an alternative means of providing a living for his family. Although the New Deal policies were an economic failure, war in Europe and pending war in the Pacific were beginning to provide a spark to the economy in industrial states.

To the right are Beauford and Ruth (Cole) Mick with little Charlie and Norma Jean.

Beauford Mick, as did many other hard-pressed Orlando natives, found work in Ohio at the Barberton plant of the Babcock-Wilcox Corporation in late 1941. Beauford’s knowledge of machinery qualified him as a boiler-maker, a job in which he worked at the construction of steam generating equipment for use in Liberty ships which were delivering badly needed supplies to our allies in Europe. In recognition of his exceptional work on the first Liberty ship, the “Patrick Henry,” Beauford was awarded the M. Burgee Badge of Merit. Beauford continued his work as a boilermaker with Babcock-Wilcox until the constant exposure to toxic fumes and gases took a toll on his health. Under medical advice, Beauford left the Ohio plant to recuperate at the family farm on Rag Run.

The crystal clean air of Rag Run had curative effects on Beauford’s health, and with a clean bill of health Beauford became eligible for the military draft in 1945. However, military success in Europe and against Japan negated the need for more manpower in the military but there was still a pressing need for maintenance of way workers on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in order that war materiel could be moved to ports. Beauford became a track worker toward the war’s end and worked for the B & O Railroad for the next 27 years.

Beauford, while working for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, re-opened the grist mill at Orlando on week-ends or whenever there was a day’s work to be done. He also continued to operate the family farm. Subsequently, in 1946, Beauford moved his family by horse and wagon from Rag Run to another farm on Little Bear Run at Bennett Siding on the Oil Creek Road where he lived to the end of his life in October 1970. He was survived by his widow, Ruth (Cole) Mick, and his children, Charles, Norma Jean, Carol, Dale and Cecil.


The site of the Mick grist mill in Orlando is still owned by the Mick family. Although the mill building itself which was built in 1933 was demolished in the 1970s, the milling equipment which was used there by the Mick family to grind the grain of Orlando residents still enjoys life. The burrs, sifter-crusher and hand corn sheller are now located in Coshocton, Ohio in the historic Rosco Village and is used during their annual Canal Days. Wade’s grandson Cecil Mick relates that the gasoline engine, a 16 horsepower, one cylinder, water cooled Witte engine, was bought by Carroll Gum of Lewis County who re-sold the engine to another buyer.

The receipt at the right reads:
B. W. Mick
Orlando W.Va.
?5 gallons gas 10.09

Rec’d Payment
Lynn Riffle

Rec’d by ???

comment 1
Donna Gloff
Census records for 1860, 1870 and 1880 have Wade Mick in Upshur County. In the 1850 census he was in Lewis County. (Upshure County was created from Lewis County in 1851.) No census records show him in Harrison County.

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