All posts by Dan Cordray

Retired firefighter/EMT and Factory Automation Technician. Now living full-time in a van with my beautiful wife and our two dogs. Since I must live somewhere, I choose to live everywhere.

Mabry’s Mill

When you follow us it is un-tellin’ (my word) what you might see.

Brenda and I have a wide variety of interests, and some are shared. One of these is our love for living history and the nature of our past.

The first thing I saw walking into this area brought a flashback from my childhood. A cane mill stood at the entrance, along with the “boiling pan.”

This was a flashback from childhood days when my grandfather grew sugar cane and there were community “grindings”. One family in the community near Madison, Fla. had a mill and boiling pot. That mill went into production when the cane came to maturity. Families would harvest their cane and bring it for an all-day affair around the mill. The kids were never allowed to be near the mashing wheels and gears. Instead, our job was to keep the mule walking the circle ascribed by the end of the drive pole.

We both have mills in our family history, so we tour mills quite often in our travels.

This particular mill built by Ed Mabry was unique to me. It is divided into sections within the same building. The left side of the mill was a lumber mill Ed used to cut lumber for himself and his neighbors, while the right side was a workshop. In the center was the grist mill. All were powered by the over-shot water wheel outside.

You can see the “race” pouring water on top of the “wheel” through the artist’s drawing here. The wheel supplied energy to turn the other pulleys inside the mill-house.

To accomplish all this work, Mr. Mabry had to build two “flumes” from different creeks. It took that much water to turn the wheel.

Here’s a view of the lumber mill and the workshop.

The grist portion of the mill had two sets of stones. One was for grinding course meal, and the other was for finer household flour. These stones, unlike some mills, came from a local source. A Congiomerae in Blackburg, VA produced and shaped these from the quarry there.

The customer would stand on the milling platform and pour their grain into the center opening of the top stone. Mr. Mabry would be standing below making adjustments to the space between the stones to control the texture of the finished product. They could grind flour, meal, and grits as finished products.

While his mill was the center of activity, Ed was also an accomplished blacksmith.

In his shop, he produced many household items and wagon wheels as well.

There were other “industries” during this time that served the community.

Spinning and producing thread from wool and plant fibers allowed the loom to create rugs and cloth for garments and other useful items.

Baskets for gathering and storing were also handmade during this time.

Now there were times when one would relax or challenge another in a friendly checkers match.

Never mind the outcome…

It’s the game I would’ve loved to watch!

I want to share a picture of my sidekick during some of this.

While maybe not the prettiest face in the crowd, it was very interested in what I was doing.

You can always find more pictures of our travels on our Instagram feeds. Check out @twentyonefeathers and @fireman428 by clicking on our Instagram names here.

REMEMBER…

Be safe, Get out, and Go adventure.

What we do….

I can only imagine what our followers are thinking sometimes. Are they a travel blog, a commentary, a survival/bushcraft/prepper leader, lovers of all things nature, life travelers…?

Well, yes! Yes we are.

Brenda and I have many different interests, and yet common themes run throughout.

She insists that you “Dooooooo It!” while I insist you “Get out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure!”. Is it any wonder that our life streams seem to always flow in the same direction?

The real beauty of our travels, and so our lives, doesn’t live in the pictures we post. It lives in the ability to be free and spontaneous every day. People ask “what are your plans from here?”, and I honestly answer “I dunno”.

You see, part of true freedom rests and flourishes in our mindset of flexibility. See an interesting sign, or thing? Go check it out! It’s only a side trip that may lead to a great discovery.

That’s how we lead our lives. Always mindful of there is no coincidences in our universe. We find, sometimes after the fact, we have been led to a particular place or person for a reason. It’s merely our time to be a conduit to serve others, and our chance to learn from the experience as well.

So, now you understand a little more of the what we do, why we do, and maybe the seeming randomness of how we do.

The pictures here are such a small sample of our lives you should visit and follow our adventures on Instagram. We are known as Fireman428 and Twentyonefeathers.

So, as always…

Get out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure!