Appalachia Gardening

Corn from Tomotla

Silver Queen Corn in western nc

The Cherokee Herald (Murphy, N.C.) newspaper in its June 17, 1874, issue ran an advertisement that asserted, “It has been ascertained that one and half bushels of corn ground at the Tomotla Mills will last a family seven days, whereas the same amount elsewhere only last the same four days.” According to the Heritage of Cherokee County, in the early 1900s, William Benton Sneed ran a gristmill in the Tomotla community. Payment for grinding corn or other grains was by a toll amounting to one-eighth of the output.

~WCU Digital Collections Travel Western North Carolina


Sounds like my kind of corn or maybe I should say my kind of mill!




You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 8, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    As I have mentioned before, my Grandfather had a mill on his place. I loved to go into the mill area and watch the process. First he would take these long spouted oil cans and go around the motor oiling every so often. He would go down the belt and check that all out…Then he would check where the corn was to be placed and then down to the end of the line where it dropped after being ground. Last he would raise the wooden bin and check where the opening and drop box looked when the ground meal/flour fell into the bin. He had a big scoop to scoop up the shelled corn out of the large toe sacks. I also used to use the corn sheller and shell out the dry corn. If the customer was buying his corn for fresh grinding he scooped it out of those toe sacks usually most knew what kind of corn he used. Mostly he ground for others that brought their sacks of grain, for a percentage of product or money as he had plenty for his own use…Then he cranked the mill engine! Sometimes it sputtered and backfired as it started if he had not ground meal for anyone in a few days…I loved to hear it start…it was loud. I was told to go down to the end of the belt and listen for the meal to come thru or watch a little bit of floury smoke puffed up out the tiny cracks in the lid, when it began to fall into the bin.
    I have hunted thru Mom’s old photo books, etc. for pictures of the mill inside and out of the millhouse. I have never found any. I guess they never thought to take a picture of Granddaddy operating the mill since this was just his way to make a little extra money and provide meal for the family…He had a full time job but his second job was the farm and mill…He was a good neighbor to all that lived around…and some owed him money for his mill services when he died…as they just paid a little along..
    Thanks Tipper enjoyed this post..

  • Reply
    July 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Ed-thank you for the great comments! Snirl is a word in my vocabulary : ) Now I need to figure out why I never had it in a test LOL : )
    Hope you have a great week!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I wonder how it was determined the corn milled there lasted longer than corn milled elsewhere, and if it really did, I wonder why it did.
    Couple of “wonders” there, just call me a “Wonderer!!!”
    But I do wonder those things.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I don’t know about the mill at
    Timotla, but I went with daddy to
    have our corn ground sometimes. His mill was about 3 miles into the Nantahala Gorge from the Topton Bridge. I marveled at the amount of water from Rolands Creek it took to turn that big wheel. Raleigh Gregory only took a small portion for his part,
    (maybe because he was friends
    with daddy.)
    In the late 50’s, and 60’s I rode
    the school bus and we turned at
    the lower end of Junaluska Road,
    went right by John King’s Mill.
    This was a shortcut to school. I
    think that building is still there…Ken

  • Reply
    Gina S
    July 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Wonder if the miller might have been grinding corn more suitable for livestock feed along with corn intended for human consumption. On a another topic, when my mother saw me make a face over something, she would always say, “Don’t snirl your nose up at me.” I hadn’t thought of that in years. I found a definition in the online Merriman Webster dictionary.

  • Reply
    Mark Mojado
    July 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    A mill where I live and about the might like.The girls will like the site about the the mines and the tourmaline.their are four parts Ihope you like it.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    It sounds as if the other mills were taking more than one-eighth toll. Sounds like Tomotla charged ,1875 bushel toll while the other mills were charging .3 bushel toll.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

    By the way, is snirl a word in your vocabulary? I don’t recall seeing it in any of your posts and when I put it in the search box nothing came up.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 11, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Tipper, the first thing that came to my mind is, who did the ascertaining? The second thing, at my house the better a food product tastes the quicker it is used up. Maybe the Tomotla Mills stuff made even the hogs snirl up their snouts.
    I knew a miller one time who would reach down every once in a while, get a handful of dirt and put it in the hopper. When I asked him why he would do such a thing, he replied “You wanted it ground didn’t you? Well, this here is ground too!”
    Yes, I made up that last part!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2015 at 10:10 am

    It must be true because it was “ascertained”. I’d rather not think that false advertising had gotten an early start in Cherokee County. Then again, maybe the miller had some 5 loaves/2 fishes skills. Miss Cindy makes a good point; that’s a whole lot of cornmeal to last only 4-7 days. Maybe the average family was vastly larger than today(like 20+ people).

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 11, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Tipper–Any conjecture on why corn from the Tomotla Mill “went farther?” Maybe that miller ground, to borrow from one of the ancient Greek philosophers (or possibly the Bible), “exceeding fine.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 11, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Sounds like an interesting business transaction. However, I wonder how the output can be different if the original amount starting was the same. Maybe other businesses are taking more of the haul. Hummm!
    Have fun at the festival.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 11, 2015 at 7:49 am

    That’s interesting. Wonder how the yield can be so different. That seems like a lot of cornmeal to use in a week. I guess cornbread really was a mainstay in the diet back then.

  • Leave a Reply