The once spinning wheel silent
Red Birds watch an era leave
From “Old Grist Mill” by Sara Kindrick
Bellamy’s Mill is a historic grist mill located near Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina and Nash County, North Carolina. It was built about 1859, and is a three-story building constructed of cut stone blocks. It is two bays wide by three bays deep and has a gable roof. Associated with the mill are a dam and support structures, also built of stone blocks
Grist mills have always fascinated me. From my earliest memories of passing through Isle of Wight Courthouse on Hwy 258, there was the old dilapidated mill that set on the courthouse side of the road and then there was Wrenn’s Mill, located just off Hwy 10 near Shoal’s Bay. Both mills stood as reminders that our ancestors were industrious individuals who made use of natural resources to make their lives easier. Through the county and other parts of the state you can walk through woods and come across old millponds where once stood thriving mills. Just like the country stores, I am sure the mills served the community in ways other than just providing the service of converting corn or grain into flour or meal. The mills undoubtedly served as a place for socializing, getting the latest news, and gossip as well.
Any chance I get to stop and venture into an old mill is a welcomed opportunity. There is something nostalgic about the sound of water dripping on the rocks and timbers below when the “sluice gate” is opened, allowing water to flow onto the water wheel. You will be taken back in time if you close your eyes; take in the smells; and listen to the rumbling of the “pit wheel” as it turns a smaller gear, the “wallower”, on the main driveshaft driving the millstones as they convert corn or grain into meal or flour.
You can imagine my delight when I began researching my wife’s family and found that her maternal grandmother’s father and grandfather were both millers at the Bellamy Mill (pictured above) located on Fishing Creek between Halifax County and Nash County in NC.
After I came across this information, it took me about a year to find the location of the mill. One hot June afternoon in 2014, I was driving in the proximity where I thought the mill should be located, when I came upon a gentleman, Mr. Al Turner, from Raleigh, NC. He knew exactly where the mill was and gave me the name of the owner. He told me during the Civil War the mill was used to make uniforms for the Confederate soldiers. When news that the Union army was approaching Enfield, the locals took the looms from the mill and tossed them into the mill pond so they would not fall into the hands of the Yankees. Mr. Turner told me that as a young boy he used to swim in the pond and you could still see the looms in the water. The mill has been renovated and is now used as a getaway by the owner. So far I have not been able to arrange a tour for my wife and me. That would be the “icing on the cake” for this chapter of my research.