The Oldest Grist Mill in Texas
Trip Start Oct 15, 2006
6Trip End Jan 01, 2007
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Records show that by 1794 the Franciscans built a grist mill and located it outside the walls of San Jose near the church by the acequia. By this time the natives had become good Spanish citizens. Everything had been changed for these people, except for one thing; their diet. Spanish ladies and gentlemen eat only wheat, not corn. Therefore a mill had to be built to reduce wheat to flour.
Entering the mill you see a very simple mechanism.
There are two mills stones weighting three hundred and fifty pounds apiece. Both rough on top and smooth on the bottom with grooves (farrows) cut into them.
The entire process is done by water power.
The miller would open the sluice gate which diverts the water from the acequia to the forebay, a ten foot deep pool. At the bottom of the pool is a gate, which is opened and closed by a long pole. When the gate is opened, the water under all that pressure rushes through the gate down the flume and strikes the horizontal water wheel,
A few things more about the mill. Notice the stones. They move counterclockwise. The only countries this happens in Europe are Spain and Portugal. The stones are thought to have been mined in France at that time.
What is original? We know for certain that the bottom seven feet of the forebay and all of the stone work below the ground is original. We are pretty sure that the stone are also original, because they were found near the acequia during the archaeological dig during the 1930s and good quartzite stones will last for more than one hundred years..
The mill has been operational since 2001 and produces flour five days a week (Monday and Tuesday closed). Pioneer Mills on San Antonio furnishes the wheat and we give the flour back to them. They, in turn, donate it to farmers who feed it to their animals.
In conclusion, what does this tell us about the Spanish and the French. First, eventhough the French and Spanish did not play well together, they continued to trade with each other. Second, the Spanish sank a lot of money into making these towns viable. They bought quartzite stone, the most expensive ones in the world.