The Grain and the Grinding

From the very beginning of its existence the Saint Vincent Gristmill has been widely used for the storage of wheat and other grains. This service was not only for the yield from the Saint Vincent farm but also for farmers from the area. In fact these farmers, again from 1854 on, had made use of the gristmill at Saint Vincent for the grinding of their grains.

Boniface Wimmer was proud of this service, as is evident from the following statement that he wrote in a November 28, 1854, letter: “All the farmers from the neighborhood and from far off come to us—Catholics and Protestants alike—notwithstanding that two steam mills and one water mill are around in our nearest neighborhood.” There were times when there were as many as three or four thousand bushels of grain stored in the gristmill. In fact this storing of grain was the prime reason for the erection of the 1883 addition to the gristmill. But the storage of grain by area farmers was discontinued once the Saint Vincent farm took care of the threshing of wheat at harvest time rather than during the winter. This storage of large quantities of wheat brought about one of the least desirable tasks at the gristmill, that of turning the stored wheat in order to dry it. It was a dirty and dusty job, what with wheat that was often waist high.

It is interesting to trace the wheat from the time it arrives at the gristmill until the time that it goes into the set of buhrstones. When the wheat of other grains are received, they are placed in grain bins on either the second or third floor. As the grain is needed, it is dropped to the basement by a chute. From there it is raised by an elevator, made of small metal scoops and leather belts, to the third floor. It then moves through a grain cleaner and is deposited in a ready grain bin on the second floor—which has a capacity of fourteen bushels. Next, as needed, it is dropped into the buhrstones. The remainder of this story of how wheat becomes flour at the Saint Vincent Gristmill has already been told.