Field Trip to the Old Grist Mill
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Have you ever strayed off the beaten path? Sometimes, the best field trips are the ones that take you to places you wouldn’t think of going otherwise. And, it’s so much fun to discover history in unexpected places.
The Suber’s Mill is a still-working grist mill that has been around since about 1908. It still uses water power to grind corn, and it is nestled alongside a creek in a beautiful wooded area. It is intriguing and fascinating. Part of the historical registry in South Carolina, the historical marker describes it as follows:
“Four generations of the Suber family have owned and operated a water-powered grist mill on the Princess Creek, a branch of the Enoree River, since shortly after the Civil War. James A. Suber (1826-1923) ran a sawmill and whiskey still a short distance upstream before serving in the Confederate army, and added a grist mill at the site soon after he returned to Greenville County.
Suber’s Mill is one of the only water-powered mills still grinding cornmeal in S.C. James Suber’s son Walter Hillary Suber (1860-1952) built this mill between 1908 and 1912: it has been in almost complete operation since. Though occasionally run by renters, it has been run by the family since 1955, beginning with Walter H. Suber, Jr. (1915-2010).”
The water spills down from a holding pond, through a wooden chute, and onto the wheel’s paddles, causing it to turn. Inside the mill, the grinding stones are powered, and as corn is poured down onto them, it is ground into grits, and cornmeal. My little LEGO builders were enchanted by the life-sized mechanisms that power this mill…
Water turns wheel turns axle turns grinding stone,
When we got home, we read that the waterwheel has been around since the first century BC, when Greek waterwheels were horizontal. We had johnny cakes for supper made from some of the cornmeal we bought, and we’ll be eating grits at least once a week for a while.
Johnny Cakes Recipe
2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup milk
Whisk together cornmeal, sugar and salt. Carefully pour in boiling water and mix until a paste forms.
Add in milk and stir until the batter thickens. You might need to add in a little more milk. The batter will be thicker than pancake batter, but still spreadable.
Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan or griddle (cast iron works well). Spoon dollops of batter onto the skillet, forming pancakes. Cook on each side until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. If needed, add a little more butter when you turn them. And, add more butter between each batch.
Serve with syrup or honey, if desired.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grits
1/2 stick butter
Combine water, milk, and salt in pot and bring to a boil.
Add grits, stir, and reduce heat. Place lid on pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Add more milk if needed to keep them from thickening up too much. Add butter, stirring until it is melted and combined. Serve with salt, pepper, more butter, and grated cheese if desired.
*Note: It is important to salt the water and milk mixture before the grits cook too much. It is hard to get them salted enough after they cook.
To make baked grits, follow directions above, and then pour cooked grits into a buttered casserole dish. Cover with grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden brown. Yummy supper side dish!