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Thursday, June 9, 2011

FLOUR SACKS AND A HISTORIC MILL

GarrardMillFeedBag-1
1924 Garrard Mill Paper Bag
 
At one time, many grist mills were located in rural settled areas where they milled grains. This provided fresh grains in the form of flour, feed, and  meal. 

Local farmers brought their grain harvest to the mill and paid for the milling by giving the miller a portion of his harvest. The grist mill miller turned around and sold his share to area folks and  commercial establishments.


The 1901 Garrard Mill in Lancaster, Kentucky,  marked their grain bags with their logo (see above photo). They  also packed their flour in cotton cloth bags of various colored patterns -- women used this cloth to sew clothes or make quilts.
MillGarrard-1
1901 Garrard Mill, Lancaster, Kentucky
The  Garrard Mill established delivery routes, much like the milk-man routes, which delivered the products of the mill. Grains were delivered in the logo printed large paper bags and flour in the patterned cotton cloth sacks.  Women would request certain patterns of the cotton cloth sacks for home projects they were working on. A common name for these cotton sacks was 'flour sacks." There was a ledger kept by the Garrard Mill with the customer's name and the type of patterns they needed. If the right patterns came along they would be delivered StripQuiltCL to the customer .

Just perhaps some of the strip quilts that we see today have pieces of flour sack material in them?

Garrard Grist Mill was built in 1901 and was sold at auction in the latter part of the twentieth century. It is now in private hands and no longer mills for the area.


The Garrard Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places



Resources:
Margaret Simson, Garrard Historical Society

Southern Folk Art and Antiques -- Photo -- Garrard Mill Bag

25 comments:

  1. Boy,I sure wish we had a good old fashioned mill now a days, and I wish they still put flour in those pretty bags. I bake from scratch & use alot of flour. I could use that fabric!

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  2. Auntea -- My daughter went to an estate sale where there were a hundred plus old cotton flour sacks of all different designs. They were a dollar apiece. She walked out and didn't buy any. I sure wish she had as I would have bought them just to study the fabric. Thanks for stopping by and sorry they don't sell your flour in fabric anymore. -- barbara

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  3. Do you know what the current owners plan to do with the mill? Are they required to maintain it as a mill due to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places? Interesting post. Thanks!

    Darcy

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  4. These sacks also make the best dish towels. Both of my grandmothers used them for clothes, quilts, and dishtowels.

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  5. Farmchick -- Do you have any of the items that you mention your grandmother's had? It would be great to see them on one of your posts. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  6. Darcy -- I could answer your question 20 years ago but I am now far removed in years from the current rulings. To second guess I would say, no, the new owner does not have to carry on the former business at the mill. It is the building that carries the designation not the business. I do understand that the current owner still operates the milling equipment for his own grains.

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  7. Just recently I was given a picture of one of my aunts from way far back. It was her school picture and there were several girls all wearing the same pattern dress. I had heard about flour sack dresses but had never seen actual pictures.
    Great post!

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  8. I had no idea some mills let women request the flour sacks they wanted for their sewing projects. And I'm also amazed by Antea's comment about the cache of old bags selling for $1 each. What a fascinating read this is! I remember that my mother made me a dress when I was small from flour sacks -- perhaps more than one but it's a yellow flowered one I remember. In those days one didn't waste nice fabric, especially when printed nicely.

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  9. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. The type of history you write about is what I'm interested in - the history of common people

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  10. I didn't know that flour sack distribution was so organized, complete with a ledger record. Fascinating!

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  11. Fine post. It took my mind too burlap bags. Fond memories of struggling to help my grandmother get the horse feed poured into the wooden storage bin. We also used the burlap bags at our family reunion in a sack race. The smell and the feel of burlap remains with me. I can not remember the last time I saw a burlap sack. Thanks for triggering a memory if not exactly related.

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  12. Grampy -- yes, I do remember burlap sacks being used for domestic animal feed. A neighbor used the empty sacks to cover his plants for a late frost in the spring and/or an early frost in the fall. His huge garden would have all these beige sacks in various positions around his plot.

    I think some burlap has disappeared as it was made with hemp. I guess the gov't thought we were going to smoke the sacks??

    -- barbara

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  13. Sheri -- I cannot speak for all mills only the Garrard Mill. The Garrard Historical Society folks informed me about how the mill provided flour sacks to its customers. I suppose that all mills had different ways of handling flour sacks -- if they did indeed use the cotton flour sack type. Thanks for the nice comment. -- barbara

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  14. Birdie -- oh do publish your photo of your aunt and her friends in flour sack material dresses -- it would be so interesting. Thanks -- barbara

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  15. June -- would love to see a photo of you in that yellow flowered dress. I remember my aunt sitting outside on her back porch taking flour sacks apart to wash and use for making some clothes. It seemed like such an interesting concept to me at the time -- sorta like the ultimate in recycling. Thanks -- barbara

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  16. Marcia -- Thank you for the very nice compliments. I enjoy reading all the comments as my knowledge of the world becomes wider with each one. Not enough material has been wrote about regarding the common folk. There is some good material out there, wrote and researched by scholars, but wish there was more. Thanks -- barbara

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  17. Lisa -- Glad you liked the photos. Areas is our country often contain significant landmarks and traditions but fall between the seams sometimes. Thanks -- barbara

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  18. Those old mills were wonderful places. I used to go with my Dad to a mill to get the chicken scratch. Later I would got to the Purina mill to get food for my rabbit. The old sack cloths had many uses. Once again, thanks for the trip down memory lane. Dianne

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  19. Dianne -- I know where there is a Purina mill in Michigan but I think its products are limited to animal feed. The small town mills that made their own brand of flour seems to have disappeared. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  20. Wonderful post. Many quilts and pieces of clothing were made from feed and/or flour sacks. People were very resourceful and thrifty in the old days. Some of those sacks were very pretty.

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  21. Janet -- I wish I could find some of those old patterned feed sacks. Perhaps I'll run across a couple at a yard sale? Thanks -- barbara

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  22. I make my own bread & go to Weisenberger Mill in Midway in central Kentucky to buy all of my flour. It's a small family-owned mill in business since 1865 on South Elkhorn Creek & the flour is milled from locally-grown products. You can go to weisenberger.com for more info. Sorry, it's only packaged in brown paper bags, but it is worth the trip!

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    1. I do thank you for the information on the South Elkhorn Creek mill. I will be near Midway in July and am going to try to visit the mill. I appreciate it when folks tell me about historic spots that are tucked away in some some town. thanks -- barbara

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    2. oldstarinn -- Yikes I made a mistake on my reply to you. It is the Weisenberger Mill in Misway, Kentucky not the South Elkhorn. -- barbara

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