Wednesday, March 18, 2015


((The last in my repost of the series in honor of Clarence's 120th birthday
on 18 Mar 2015. This was first printed in 2008.

This is the last part of my Granduncle Clarence West’s
memories as taken from “The History of Wilsons Mills-and-
the- Magalloway -Settlements” . The subjects range from
“squirrel whiskey” to grist mills and the cost of food.

“P.C. Ripley worked at the dam when they were building it.
He was the top blacksmith. He could make most anything.
He made wrenches and tools of all kinds for the crews.
used to say that Brown Company kept all the
ingredients to
make `squirrel ’whiskey. You just mix up a
batch, then bury
it in the ground to season it. When you dig
it up it’s pretty
stout, but good. Just one drink of it will make
a squirrel go
up a tree tail first!

That grist stone they took out of the river this spring was
the top stone. If you look at it you can see the holes in it.
There’s a thing goes through the hole in the middle to pick it
up by. Too bad they couldn’t find the other stone. It used to
take days to sharpen those stones. It was all done by hand
and they all had to be the same. They had a nice grist mill at
Errol Dam. They had two stones, one special for buckwheat
and one for flour. The top stone sets still and the bottom one
goes around. You had to be awful careful to keep the grain
running all the time.

If you heard the click of the stones hitting together you
knew you were going to get something hard on your teeth.
The grain went down the cellar to a hopper, onto a
through a machine they called the `smut’ mill,
then back
upstairs and into a rig they called a bolt. This
was a cylinder
screen about 10 feet long and about three
feet around.
It had different sized screens and it kept turning
over and
over and the grain fell into a row of boxes under it.
When it
was done you pulled out a drawer and filled your

“There’s sure some difference in the price of flour and meat
and everything nowadays. I can remember when Joe and
Martha Brooks had a little store over in Upton. Joe would
a cow and go and peddle it around for three cents a
Milk was five cents a quart; butter was high,
cents a pound. Eggs were one cent apiece.
When I was going
to school, anytime I needed pencils or
paper or anything for
school, I’d go out to the barn and get
a few eggs to trade
for what I needed.

You know, I was thinking about it the other day, I’ve had
boats all the time I’ve been here, and that’s going on
fifty-one years, and I’ve only been to the head of the lake
ten times.”

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.) pp.96-97

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