Ms. Edith Spencer purchased six 10 pound bags of meal at 19 cents each and a sack of scratch feed for $1.85. Her bill, recorded in a Mineral Milling Company ledger in August 1940, totaled $2.99. J. W. Tolerson was charged for three sacks of meal at $1.70 each, along with two bags of Red Dog at $1.90 each and two bags of mash at $2.10 each. The handwritten notation totaled his bill at $13.10. Terms were cash.
Similar fees for milling grain or the purchase of cornmeal, Lily of the Valley flour, dog food, livestock feed, hay, chop or other items were carefully delineated in ledgers and receipt books signed by members of the Fisher or Whitlock families. Carbon paper allowed the purchaser to receive a copy of his bill.
As a teenager in 1975, Mark Evans assisted his stepfather in tearing down the abandoned Mineral Milling Company building, located on lots that now house a post office and bank along the town’s Mineral Avenue.
He discovered the ledgers beneath the floorboards. Evans also salvaged cancelled checks, a calendar and assorted paper feed bags. Dating from the 30s and 40s, the materials recorded names of farmers who worked with dairy or beef cattle or operated truck farms throughout Louisa County. Names included prominent families such as Dymacek, Kersey, Dickinson, Glass, Payne, Trice, Wash, Meredith, Hart and Parrish.
“I went under the crawl space because I was curious and pulled out several items,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t have a clue what I had. But, I placed them in a bag and took them home.”
Last year, Evans rediscovered the cache while rummaging through a toy chest stored at his parents’ house. He took them to The Central Virginian office and sparked the interest of staff. Research at the Sargeant Museum and the paper’s archives led to G. E. Fisher, who recalled a town in which his grandfathers, George E. Fisher and Richard “Ollie” Whitlock, ran the mill, and uncles, Ray Fisher and Willard Fisher, operated the Louisa Light and Power Company and an ice plant during the first half of the 20th century.
As a youngster, G. E. Fisher and his siblings were often told to stop pushing two-wheeled hand trucks used to move sacks between the mill and storage building. They were also chased out of the mill while his grandfather Whitlock started the engine that was bolted to a cement block in a pit.
“We were cautioned not to be reckless and run into any bags,” he said. “We could not stand in the engine room or even at the door.”
Despite the boundaries, Fisher enjoyed visiting the Mineral Milling Company and observing the bustling activity of unloading corn, grinding flour or filling sacks. The fact that both his mother’s (Lula Ophelia Whitlock) and father’s (Russell Fisher) parents were involved in the mill was a bonus. Spending time in town was a delight for G. E., whose immediate family lived at Burnley Farm near Boswell’s Tavern. By the mid-1920s, Russell operated the dairy that continues today.
To read the entire story, see the Aug. 29 edition of The Central Virginian.