In my novel The Secret Side of Jaya, she encounters an old-fashioned, water-powered gristmill when she and Joshua relocate to the Ozarks.
Turns out that the best-known mill in the Ozarks is named after some of my kinsmen who settled near Sycamore, Missouri.
Here are some facts.
- The Hodgsons were Quaker millers in Guilford County, North Carolina, before heading north in the 1820s. At one time two cousins, both named William, had mills there. The Missouri line descends from one. I descend from the other. (For the family line before that, see my Orphan George blog.)
- For a while after leaving the Piedmont region, that line of the family briefly spelled the surname the way I do. Then they reverted to the original, with the “g” in the middle.
- A grain mill has graced the site at the foot of a bluff on Bryant Creek, Missouri, since 1837. The current three-story mill was built in 1897 by Alva Hodgson, who mostly worked alone on its construction.
- After 1909, Alva imported top-of-the-line French buhrstones from the Pyrenees Mountains and installed a turbine to provide electrical power to light the mill and surrounding buildings. The electricity also ran a half-dozen sewing machines producing overalls in a neighboring general store.
- Alva Hodgson also purchased the site of the Dawt Mill near Tecumseh, Arkansas, in 1901 and rebuilt that mill in 1909. Today it continues to grind grain. It’s also a full-time resort with three restaurants, a concert venue, and float trips.
- The Hodgson Mill left Hodgson hands in 1927.
- Until its purchase by Hudson River Foods in Castleton, New York, last year, the Hodgson label was still a family-owned operation.
- At the time of the purchase, the company’s headquarters and production facilities were in Effingham, Illinois. The milling was still done in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
- In addition to its signature cornmeal and unbleached flour, products include whole wheat pastas, breakfast cereals, bread mixes, pancake mixes, wheat bran, and pure cornstarch.
- Principal competitors include Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Nature’s Path Foods, and Spectrum Foods.
Do you ever see your name on a product?
Our Eat Vegan Before 6:00 approach to Advent, adapted from Mark Bittman’s book, has led us to a refreshing side activity. We’re trying to use up a lot of items we already have in our pantry rather than shopping for more.
We’re digging out a lot of legumes and grains and beans that got pushed to the back, for one thing, as well as home-canned fruits and vegetables, for another.
This “use it up” strategy is actually fun, extending to other parts of the household. It’s boosting efforts at decluttering. Do we still need this or that? Do we know somebody who can use it? Does it go into our yard sale now planned for May?
To be honest, we still have a long way to go. Guess I’ll just have to use more jam on my toast in the morning.