No, this is not a photo of Friedrich Schinnerer’s gristmill, but I like to think his mill probably looked a lot like this one. Both mills were built in the 1840s and were located in west central Ohio.
Friedrich was my great-great-grandfather and he immigrated from Bavaria in 1849. Within two months he and his wife settled in Mercer County, Ohio, and he took over operation of John Rhodes’ water-powered grist and sawmill. The mill was located along the north bank of the St. Marys River, about two miles west of Shanesville [now Rockford], in Dublin Township. 
John Rhodes built the gristmill in 1840, the first flour mill in the township. Friedrich agreed to rent the mill from Rhodes for $400 per year, but in June 1850, before the contract year had even ended, Friedrich purchased the mill and 115 acres of land for $3300. He only had $1000 at the time but paid the balance from profits made from the mill.  
Shinnerer’s Mill had one pair of stone grinding burrs [aka buhrs; mill stones], used for grinding wheat, corn, and buckwheat and Friedrich ran both the gristmill and the sawmill by himself for three years. Ten years later he built another mill, which he sold in 1873.  By 1876 T.J. Dull was the proprietor of Shinner’s Mill, located in Section 6 of Dublin Township. 
Schinnerer’s Mill is no longer standing but a few old mills have been preserved and restored and still operate the way they did nearly 175 years ago. To get an idea of the construction and operation of a mill constructed in the 1840s, we decided to visit one.
Last week Joe and I took a road trip to Bear’s Mill, located on Greenville Creek, east of Greenville, in Darke County, Ohio. Bear’s Mill is listed with the Great Lakes Chapter Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM), under Ohio Mills by County & Mill Name. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bear’s Mill is a little larger than Schinnerer’s Mill was. Bear’s Mill is about 40 feet long and has three large sets of burrs, while Schinnerer’s Mill was 26×36 feet and had one set of burrs.   Bear’s Mill was originally sided with black walnut and was resided with black walnut a few years ago. I imagine Schinnerer’s Mill was also a wood frame building.Bear’s Mill was not operating the day we were there but we took the self-guided tour. We were amazed at the engineering and ingenuity that went into the construction and operation of the gristmill. I was expecting to see a building with simply a set of mill stones. I had no idea how complicated the whole milling process was. I won’t describe the whole process but I will say that a millwright and miller must have had a lot of training, skill, and experience to construct and run a gristmill.
Bear’s Mill is four stories tall. Grain was hoisted up in sacks to the fourth floor by a pulley and then pulled inside. From there the grain went down and up, from floor to floor, through elevator legs, to first clean and filter the grain. Elevator legs are long, thin, square, wooden tubes that run from floor to floor, and they are all over the mill. There were also many large bins in which to store grains.
The mill works by gravity and water power. The water power comes from turbines located in the millrace below the mill. This was also a surprise to me. When I think of a water-powered gristmill I think of a water wheel. I wonder if Schinnerer’s Mill used turbines or a water wheel?
There were three large sets of granite burr stones on the second floor, probably 40-48 inches in diameter. The Bear’s Mill stones were imported from France in 1848 and cost $6000 a set. Chutes were positioned over the stones, one each for wheat, corn, and buckwheat. The grain flowed down them and went between the stones, where it was ground into flour and meal.
A skilled person, the miller, was needed to successfully grind the grain. The miller controlled the flow of the grain into the burrs. If too much grain went between the burrs the grain would not be ground completely. If too little grain flowed between the burrs it would cause the burrs to heat up. The miller also had to keep the burrs level, keep them properly surfaced, and maintain the correct grinding speed.
About 1880 roller mills became the popular method of milling, but stone-grinding is still the method preferred by many today. Stone-grinding grinds the grain in to fine pieces and does not produce much heat. retaining more nutrients and vitamins and producing a nice nutty flavor. The roller method crushes the grain and produces heat during the process, destroying nutrients. We purchased a loaf of bread baked with Bear’s Mill stone-ground flour. It was delicious with their local honey!
A gristmill provided an important service to the community and was a profitable business for the owner in several ways. The mill owner could grind his own grain and sell it. Area farmers took their grains to the mill to be ground, left some flour and meal with the miller as payment for the grinding, and took the rest for themselves.
Our visit to the old gristmill was very interesting and gave me an insight into the occupation of my great-great-grandfather, Friedrich Schinnerer.
Next: Where Friedrich Schinnerer lived and the property he owned.
 Mercer County, Ohio, 1853 Plat Book, Dublin Township, Section 6, p. 315 A & B, Fredrick Schinnerer; Recorder’s Office, Celina. A map of the mill’s location: http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/schinnerer/friedrich-schinnerer-the-flourist/
 Sutton, History of Van Wert and Mercer Counties, Ohio, (1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Windmill Publications, Inc., 1991), 254.
 Mercer County Deeds Book P:25, Recorder’s Office, Courthouse, Celina, Ohio. John Rodes to Frederick Schinnerer, 25 June 1850.
 Mercer County Chapter, OGS, Mercer County, Ohio, Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio, (Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Windmill Publications, Inc., 1999); 1876 Dublin Township Directory, p. 16.