Mills as Meeting Places

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As pioneer families moved into the Upcountry of South Carolina, they settled near the numerous creeks and waterways where they could begin raising crops to sustain life.  One of the primary food crops that they grew was corn.  A crop indigenous to the Americas, corn was introduced to early settlers by the Native Americans. While Native Americans used a pestle and mortar to ground their corn, the pioneers opted for a mechanical means of grinding corn.  

The knowledge of designing and operating a grist mill would have come over from Europe with early settlers.  This easier and more efficient way of grinding corn was highly desired by those settling in new communities. Once the mill was constructed and a miller hired (if needed), the mill provided an opportunity for folks to gather. 

Before the days of radio or television, mill yards were a popular place to catch up on local news.  Politicians would use mill sites while they stumped through the area to host speeches and parties.  The mill provided a place not only to meet the need for ground foods but also was a place to have fun with your neighbors.

Hagood Mill Historic Site honors this sense of community during the third Saturday Folklife events.  Not only can visitors meet up with friends, enjoy live music and entertainment, and shop from artisan vendors, but they can also see a waterwheel-powered grist mill in operation.  It is a chance for visitors, young and old, to have a glimpse of days gone by.

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About the Author

Kim Clevenger

Kim is the Assistant Director of the Hagood Mill Historic Site. In addition to these duties, she also teaches hearth cooking classes.

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