Here’s the scoop











Billy Humphries


This website has been revised just a bit. No new stories have been added, but one never knows when a new one may appear.


Old photos were recently found and have been added in a new photo section.  Also, articles about Myrick’s Mill will be added as we discover them in newspaper archives and periodicals. So, visit occasionally to see what’s new.


If you have old photos of Myrick’s Mill  or people who lived in the community that you would be willing for me to copy and share in this website,  please contact me.  Click here to contact me.


Twiggs Times New Era

In 2002-2003 a weekly column about the community of Myrick’s Mill appeared in The Twiggs Times New Era is a weekly newspaper for Twiggs County, Georgia, published by Dubose Porter, who also Publishes the Dublin Courier Herald and several mid-Georgia county weeklies.


Why did you stop writing stories about Myrick’s Mill?

I’ve often been asked this question.  Let’s just say that I ran out of memory. Oh, there was nothing wrong with my computer’s memory storage device. My personal memory of stories fizzled and have not been able to find a “repairman” capable of fix’n the problem.  Some readers might say the stories fizzled before my memory ran out.


I wanted to keep the stories as real accounts of the people (names occasionally changed) and events of the day and place. 





Above, CC Humphries, my grandfather, who in part, made these stories possible by  acquiring the land, the mill,  thereby providing his grandson a place to grow up and experience the community known as Myrick’s Mill.

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Myrick's Mill in the late 1940’s and 1950's


The earliest settlement was called Big Sandy, named for the major creek flowing through the area. The community supported about 200 residents and a post office with weekly deliveries. The post office was established in 1879 and continued operation until 19031. Cotton, fruit, and produce were the main community crops.


In 1883, J.D. Myrick was cited as the owner of a gristmill. Other merchants and professions cited suggest there were two churches, three general stores, two sawmills, two gristmills, two doctors, and a school teacher3. There is no record of the initial owner, builder nor the exact construction date of the three storied structure that once housed five large stone mills for making corn meal and wheat flour. According to a historical marker, located adjacent to Liberty Hill Church on a hill overlooking the lake, General Marquis de Lafayette in 1825 visited the mill. After returning to France he sent to the miller a piece of silk so the mill could bolt its flour. Therefore, the mill was constructed sometimes prior to 1825. On his infamous march to the sea from Atlanta, General Wm T. Sherman's troops came within 10 miles and just north of Myrick's Mill. Obviously none of the Union soldiers found the mill or it would have been burned to the ground during Sherman's rape and pillage of civilian property throughout the South. In the 1920's, my grandfather, C.C. Humphries originally from Rutherford County North Carolina, bought from the Napier family of Baldwin County, Georgia, the mill and about 5,000 acres of land surrounding the mill. Various parcels of land were sold during the 1920s and 1930s leaving about 3000 acres.


By early standards, this was a large modern mill with a concrete raceway that channeled water from the 75 acre lake to the millhouse and through two large underwater turbines beneath the mill house. The turbines turned shafts attached to large pulleys and belts that turned the large stone mills.



Historical Marker for Myrick's Mill


In later years, the water also powered electric turbines to light the mill house, run an ice plant built by my grandfather, and power a well water pump that provided water to our house and my grandparents' house. Since there was no electricity in rural areas in the early 1940s, the mill provided our family with the only running water in the community. Running water made indoor bathrooms possible. So, we had the only indoor bathrooms in the community. There was a large tank in the yard of my grandparent's house that was filled with water periodically. Water to each house was gravity fed from the tank. When the tank was pumped full of water an overflow valve on top of the tank opened and spewed water everywhere. This was a signal for my grandmother to ring the big bell mounted in the crotch of an oak tree in the back yard. The bell could be heard down at the mill house. Someone in the mill would throw the belt from the pulley leading to the water pump. It may sound complicated but everything worked quite well.


In addition to the mill, a store operated by my father, and the lake, there were about ten tenant houses, plus farming on about 200 acres of cropland and pasture. The remaining land was in timber. In the early 1950s my father added a country music dance hall.

Charley Humphries and Friends


Myrick's Mill was a busy place at times. Around the community were a lot of other small farms and people living down every path. Most of the people farmed, worked at the chalk mine, or worked at the cotton mills in Macon.


Humphries Water Ground Corn Meal


Corn was ground on the big water powered stones, bagged into brown bags, tops were folded and each bag was wrapped with cotton string and tied. Each bag was stamped "Humphries Water Ground Meal - Myrick's Mill - Jeffersonville, Georgia". The bags of meal were sold in our store and delivered to other stores between Jeffersonville and Macon. The meal was bagged in 5 and 10 pound bags. There was no such thing as 2-pound bags. People ate a lot of cornbread.

Mill for grinding corn by water power


A few people brought their own corn for grinding. No cash changed hands as payment for grinding the corn. Instead a toll was charged. A toll was a deduct from the gross weight of the corn to account for the husk which was sifted and discarded, plus a retained portion of the meal that served as payment for milling the corn. So, a 100-pound sack of corn might return the customer about 70 pounds of meal. People who had their own corn ground obviously cooked a lot of cornbread that was usually fed to the hounds. Several people in the community had coon hounds or fox hounds. Sometimes they just had a lot of chillun to feed!


When I was 15 years old Daddy let me run the meal delivery route alone. Mamma always fussed because I didn't have a driver's license. Daddy sort of chuckled, shrugged it off saying, "Awe, it ain't gonna hurt nothing. He ain't driving outside the county". The truth was, I went several miles across the county line into Bibb County to deliver to several stores. I guess Mamma didn't know that or knew that it wouldn't do any good to say anything more about it. Bud Torrance, a tall thin Negro man, was the miller that ran the mill for Daddy. Bud often wanted to talk about his religion. He was always reading from a newspaper-like book called The Watchtower. I guess most of the conversation about his religion never made a real big impression on me because I don't remember much about it. But, I do remember one point of conversation that always bothered Bud. He tried to figure out why the appendage at the end of his leg was called a foot. Bud wasn't a formally educated man, but he was able to read, write a little bit and he was able to count. He also considered himself pretty good at reasoning out things with common sense. He was puzzled over a major flaw in our English language. If a 12-inch measure was called a foot and his foot was 11 inches long, why was it called a foot? Furthermore, he could not understand why two foots were called feet. After all, adding an "s" to a word meant more than one. To Bud, more than one foot was foots---period. Since I was being formally schooled, he seemed to think that I should be able to provide clarity for this confusion. I tried to explain that a foot of measure and the foot that goes in a shoe were two different things. Bud never accepted my attempts to explain. I guess because he was older and more experienced that his common sense and reasoning ability was superior to mine.


Fishing In The Lake


During the 1940s and 1950s, the lake was one of the largest bodies of water around middle Georgia and was known for its excellent fishing. When the shellcrackers were bedding, it was common to see 50 or 75 cars parked along the road, around the mill and store. Everybody with a cane pole, red

View of Pond from 3rd story of the mill house

wigglers, catawba worms, or crickets

were dabbling among the lily pads trying to catch those slab- size shellcrackers.


Most people that came fishing parked their car or truck along the road and started fishing by setting up along the bank of the lake. They waited for Eli, the pond overseer, to come along and issue a fifty-cent fishing permit for a day of fishing. Others would stop by the store to pay for their permit. Those who wanted to rent a bateau had to find Eli. He had the key to the chains that locked the boats together. Renting a bateau for one dollar per day included a couple of paddles and a can to bail water. Each bateau came with free leaks.


Most of the lake was covered with lily pads making it difficult to fish. Paddling a boat through them wasn't easy either. It was sort of like riding a bicycle through grass as compared to riding on a hard surfaced road. A push pole was the easiest and quietest way to move the homemade wooden boat along. Homemade paddles worked best because they were made extra long with a narrow paddle blade that could be used for either paddling or pushing the boat depending on the depth of the water was and how thick the lily pads.

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Daddy had about 20 bateaus for rent. These were homemade wooden boats, flat on each end, shallow sides and with three seats, one at each end, and one in the middle. Although coal tar was applied to seal the joints during construction, the boats invariably leaked. It was common to see rags

Plank bridge across creek at the dam

chinking the cracks in a bateau. An additional safety backup for a leaky bateau, a can was supplied to periodically bail water if the leak became too severe. Some people brought their own bateau and even less brought a flat bottom aluminum boat. Those with aluminum boats were usually city folks from Macon. Billy and the Bass In those days most locals didn't think much of aluminum boats cause they were so noisy. Every time something moved in the boat, it made a bang or a clang that could be heard clear across the pond. Nothing offered greater pleasure than to be sittin on a good shellcracker bed, quietly pulling big slabs out from the lily pads. Nothing was more irritating than a noisy aluminum boat approaching. Some folks just don't know any better, others just ain't got no manners on a fish pond! Sharing a shellcracker bed with another quiet bateau of locals was one thing, but sharing it with city folks sittin in a noisy Sears Roebuck aluminum boat was another! They'd scare every fish away within a half mile --- if not by banging around in the boat, by loud talkin. You've got to be whisper quiet and gentle when dabbling through lily pads on a shellcracker bed.


©2003 - William C. Humphries, Jr.

 

Stories about people, places and happenings, as I remember them growing up at Myrick's Mill, a middle Georgia community in Twiggs County.