Wilson County Mills Redux


Wiggin’s Mill circa 1920’s

Yate's Mill

Yate’s Mill in Wake County (est. 1750). Last operational mill in Wake County.  Yeah, not in Wilson County but there’s no mills left here 😦
Photo by Will

Finch's Mill, circa 1950's

Finch’s Mill circa 1950’s

I made a really uninteresting post about Barefoot Mill a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty much just a picture without any information about the mill.  But this post will make amends .

If you wanted the makings for cornbread, corn pone (corn meal and lard) or grits you had to take your corn to a grist mill (almost nobody made flour at the time). The grist mill harnessed the energy of flowing water to turn their grinding stone and building one was no small feat.  First you had to seek permission from the county court, especially if someone else owned land that would be flooded by the dam.  Damages were assessed and paid.  Most dam sites were at the narrow part of a stream and were constructed with earth by men and carts with a wood spillway in the middle.

The mill was also a hotspot for socializing and talking crops, politics, religion and spreading gossip or news.  The grinding was a slow process so there was plenty of time to chew the fat. It was a time of few books and newspapers and the locals got their intellectual stimulus from the mill, church or Statonsburg where “boughten” goods arrived on shallow-draft boats from the coast.

Barefoot’s Mill (later Wiggin’s Mill) was originally called Cobb’s Mill after Captain Stephen Cobb and it may have supplied British forces during the Revolution.  On May 5, 1781 Lord Cornwallis wrote to Tarleton (Bloody Ban) that he wanted to get 1500 pounds of meal ground there within 24 hours.  On May 8th Cornwallis was near Viverett’s mill North of Lamon’s Ferry at the Tar River.  There he told Tarleton to meet him there or at Cobb’s Mill in case it seemed better for them to return to Wilmington.  At the time of the Civil War the Cobb’s Mill was known as Hadley’s Mill and by the turn of the century it had become Barefoot’s mill.  J.T. Wiggin’s purchased it at the end of WWI and by the mid-1920’s Wiggin’s was bankrupt.

Here is a list of all the mill sites in Wilson County as found in a letter from Hugh Johnston to Horst Garloff.

  1. Horn’s Mill on Little Swamp, 1804
  2. Silver Lake, Farmer’s Mill, and John Dew’s Mill on Toinsnot Swamp, 1785
  3. Wilson Reservoir, Winstead’s Mill, Barnes’ Mill, Dew’s Mill in 1751, Viverett’s Mill, established in 1744 as Lott’s Mill and is the oldest mill site in Wilson County
  4. (Caswell) Finch’s Mill on Bloomery Swamp, 1875
  5. Lamm’s Mill, Bloomery Mill on Great Swamp, dates back to Revolution
  6. (Stanley) Boykin Mill, (Peter) Bailey Mill on Moccasin Creek
  7. (Robinson) Baker’s Mill on Contentnea Creek, 1870-1900
  8. Barnes’ Mill on Hominy Swamp, 1801
  9. (James Reddick) Barnes’ Mill on Poplar Branch, 1865
  10. (Irvin) Boykin’s Mill N. of Contentnea Creek
  11. (Stephen Plummer) Boykin’s Mill E. of Filmore
  12. (Condary) Boykin’s Mill on Flat Rock Branch
  13. (David) Daniel’s Mill at site of Wiggin’s Mill, 1897-1904
  14. Davis’ Mill on Great Swamp, 1790
  15. Davis’ Mill on Black Creek
  16. Davis’ Mill on Turner’s Swamp
  17. (Raymond) Eatman’s Mill on Flat Rock Branch
  18. (Peter) Eatman’s Mill on Juniper Creek
  19. (Wiley W.) Farmer’s Mill on Silver Lake, 1871-1907
  20. (William Dew) Farmer’s Mill on Rocky Branch
  21. (David “Dick”) Flower’s Mill on 1901 at Taylor’s Mill
  22. (Martin) Gardner’s Mill on Gardner’s Mill Swamp, 1788
  23. (Thomas) Hadley’s Mill at Wiggin’s Mill, 1833-1863
  24. (Nathaniel) Hickman’s Mill at Wilson Reservoir
  25. (Henry)(Thomas) Horn’s Mill at Baker’s Mill on Contentnea Creek, 1778
  26. (John) Lott’s Mill on Wilson Reservoir, 1744-1748
  27. Simm Family’s Mill on Mill Branch, Antebellum period
  28. (James H.) Newsome’s Mill on Upper Black Creek
  29. (Arnold) Nichol’s Mill W. of the main fork of Marsh Swamp
  30. Odom’s Mill on the site of Nichol’s Mill
  31. (Joseph) Pender’s Mill  prior to 1813 near Pender’s Crossroads
  32. Shallington’s Mill at Gardner’s Branch
  33. Stanton’s Mill at Toisnot Swamp, 1826
  34. (Manuel) Sullivant’s Mill at Mill Branch
  35. (Enos) Tartt’s Mill on Bear Branch, 1817
  36. (Dr. J.M.) Taylor’s Mill ginned cotton and ground cornmeal on Contentnea Creek, 1859-1882 see also Flower’s Mill
  37. Thompson’s Mill is said to have been built in 1879 by Dr. GW Ward, Later sold to William Applewhite, inherited in 1905 by Lena Applewhite and her husband Benjamin Joyner Thompson on Toisnot Swamp.
  38. (Martin) Thorne’s Mill on Cattail Swamp
  39. Tomlinson’s Mill on Cedar Branch
  40. Tory Mill (Shallington’s Mill qv) is reputed to have been begun by a Tory Family that were burned out by their neighbors during the Revolutionary War then run by the Gatlin Family before the Shallingtons.
  41. (William) White’s Mill on Little Swamp, 1792
  42. (Colonel David) William’s Mill on William’s Branch, 1848
  43. (J.H.) Williamson’s Mill on Buckhorn Branch
  44. (J.J.) Wilson’s Mill Pond on Marsh Swamp
  45. Woodard’s Mill was established before the Civil War by Dr. AG Brooks on Dickinson’s Branch befor it enters easterly into Contentnea Creek.  It was later owned by Frederick Augustus Woodard.
  46. (Benjamin) Simm’s Mill Swamp

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