New in the collection: Old Mill scratch feed bag

There are only a handful of working gristmills in North Carolina today, but they once played a vital role as community centers.

“ ‘In the South, we used to have a mill in almost every county. Everyone knew their local miller,’ says Bryan King, fourth-generation miller of Lakeside Mills in Spindale.

“Though they may not be as commonplace, a few mills have stayed in business thanks to the natural fondness for Southern – and often nostalgic – recipes.

“ ‘The traditional cooks want to buy what they recognize from childhood,’ King says. ‘That’s what your local mills produce. We’re now a niche market.’ ”

— From “Run of the Mills: North Carolina Gristmills” at North Carolina Field & Family (Sept. 20, 2015)

W. J. Worsham’s Old Mill in Ruffin may have produced flour and meal for human consumption, but this paper bag contained five pounds of scratch feed — cracked wheat and corn — for chickens. According to a 1921 issue of the trade journal Operative Miller, Worsham had recently purchased a steel overshot water wheel, 12 feet diameter. Here’s a 1982 photo of a defunct Worsham’s Mill in Ruffin (the bag illustration is probably stock).

Also in the collection: bags from Boonville (Boonville’s Choice), Mt. Olive (Williams mill), Albemarle (Lowder), Princeton (GNC), Marshall (Silvers), Raleigh (Lassiter), Goldston (Dixie), Lenoir (Happy Valley), Whitakers (Fish Creek), Monroe (Morning Glory), Washington (Jo Ho Mo), Lilesville (Allen), Old Fort (Tar Heel), Eureka (Premium), Morganton (Rich), Hiddenite (Hiddenite), Autryville (Autry), Faison (Carolina), Deep Run (Old Fashioned), Warrenton (Whites) and Newton Grove (Houses).