Mills Need Friends Too!

Courtesy Jonathan Hill

Calling all history lovers, preservationists, admirers of unique architecture, archaeologists, old mill enthusiasts, educators and anyone who loves scenic, outdoor spaces!

We’re looking for Friends of the Mill!

In our continuing efforts to find new ways to spread the word about the Mill and its history, Turn the Mill Around Campaign is seeking out individuals interested in forming a ‘Friends of the Mill’ organization. The Friends would be independently incorporated and could take an active role in numerous aspects of Mill site operations including but in no way limited to community outreach, site maintenance, fundraising, coordinating with school and youth groups to offer tours and activities, and promoting the site to photographers, filmographers and other artists.

Interested in finding out more?  The first meeting to discuss this new group will take place Saturday, July 23 at 1PM at the Mill office (4250 Loudoun Ave. The Plains, VA 20198).  Contact Frances Allshouse at for details.

Where Did All the Flour Go?

Corn Meal Bag

By the early 19th century, the Mill was a major producer of ground corn and wheat in Northern Virginia.  Interestingly, it’s likely that some of the meal being produced at Chapman’s Mill found its way to the Caribbean and Europe.  Read more in this excerpt from Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones.

Portugal was a large importer of Northern Virginia corn, wheat, and flour from 1801 to 1815. Spain also imported much wheat and corn during this period. England received substantial amounts of wheat from Alexandria, prior to the enactment of the Corn Laws. The West Indies, however, received the major portion of flour exported from Alexandria. Domestic trade with northern states along the east coast of the United States may have equaled or exceeded Alexandria’s foreign trade during Ante-bellum days. Grain and flour from Alexandria was traded at Washington, Richmond and Norfolk, and small amounts went to Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans.

The demand for grain and flour abroad reached an all-time high between 1800 and 1840. It is presumed that a portion of the flour that was shipped abroad, primarily to the West Indies, Spain and Portugal, was ground at the Chapman Mill.

Finding Meaning in Pipe Stems

Archaeology volunteer, Paul Antsen, using a quarter inch mesh to find artifacts.

Archaeology volunteer, Paul Antsen, using a quarter inch mesh to find artifacts.

With the Chapman – Beverley Mill’s crew of archaeologists back in the field, there are all sorts of interesting things being unearthed at the site.  Several buttons and bone fragments have already been uncovered and we’re only on level two!  One of today’s finds was a pipe stem.  In the lab, the pipe stem will be catalogued and analyzed and may even be useful in determining the date of the site.  How?  Here’s an excerpt from the National Parks Service:

Pipe stem dating
The clay pipe industry expanded rapidly as tobacco smoking gained popularity in both England and America. Historical archeologists excavating English colonial sites often find pieces of white clay smoking pipes on their sites. In the 1950s J. C. Harrington studied the thousands of pipe stems excavated at Jamestown and other colonial Virginia sites, noticing a definite relationship between the diameter of the pipe stem bore—or hole—and the age of the pipe of which it had been part. The earliest pipes, dating to about 1600, had stems with 9/64-inch diameter bores. By 1800 this diameter had decreased to 4/64 of an inch. This change in diameter may have occurred because pipe stems became longer through time, requiring a smaller bore. Louis Binford later devised a mathematical formula to refine Harrington’s method (Deetz 1996:27). This dating technique only applies to pipe stems manufactured in England between approximately 1590 and 1800.

Find out more and test your skills at analyzing pipe stem findings HERE.

Legends of Thoroughfare Gap


Have you ever wondered how some of the areas around Thoroughfare Gap got their names?  Here’s one legend according to Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones

According to tradition, George Washington surveyed the land at Thoroughfare Gap in 1748-49, at the request of the Northern Neck Proprietor, Thomas Lord Fairfax.  Washington supposedly measured the heights of the Bull Run Mountains on the north and south of Thoroughfare Gap and named them, Pond Mountain, on the south side of the gap, he supposedly named after the large fishing pond formed by the damming of Broad Run.  Prior to that naming, Pond Mountain was called South Mountain, and before that it was known as “Broken Hills.”  Washington named the mountain on the north side of the gap Leathercoat Mountain, after “Mother Leathercoat,” a woman who, according to legend, operated an inn at the foot of this mountain and always wore a leather apron or overcoat.

Become a Gatekeeper!

Be a Friend of the Mill!  Become a Gatekeeper!

Be a Friend of the Mill! Become a Gatekeeper!

Ever wonder who the wonderful folks are who make sure the Mill is open to the public every weekend all year long?  Well the answer could be you!

After many years of great service, the Mill’s former volunteer gatekeeper recently retired from his post, so we’re now looking for a crew of volunteers to take on his duties.

The job is simple, just open the gates at 9AM and close them again at 5PM on Saturdays and Sundays.  What a great way to start and end your day!  And since we’re looking to gather a group of three or four individuals, each volunteer will only have gate duty one or two weekends per month.

There are some great benefits too!  All our gatekeepers will receive:

  • Access to the Mill property during off hours
  • Early notice of upcoming events
  • Free use of Mill site for photography
  • Free mill tee shirt
  • Discount at ShopChapmansMill.Org
  • Free adoption of one of the Mill’s stones at the end of first year of service

Interested in joining the team?  Contact Frances Allshouse at or by phone at 540-253-5888.


An Act to Create Fauquier County


One of the defining characteristics of the Mill is that is is located on the boarder between Fauquier and Prince William Counties.  But did you know that the Mill is actually mentioned in the 1759 Act that created Fauquier County?  Here’s and excerpt.

The act dividing Prince William specifically refers to Chapman’s Mill as a landmark:

     “that from and immediately after the first day of May next the said county of Prince William shall be divided into two distinct counties, that is to say:  All that part of the said county that lies above a line to run from the head of Bull Run, and along the top of Bull Run Mountains, to Chapman’s Mill, in Broad Run thoroughfare, from thence by a direct line to  the head of Dorrel’s Run …and from thence by a direct line till it intersects the nearest part of the line dividing Stafford and Prince William counties, shall be one distinct county, and called and known by the name of Fauquier…”

Understanding Milling Terms

Inside the Chapman - Beverley Mill (circa 1990)

Inside the Chapman – Beverley Mill (circa 1990)

As with all industries, Milling brings with it a host of technical terms that may or may not be familiar to the average person.  Some terms are straight forward having meanings that are fairly obvious . . .

Grain hopper: a hopper above the vat which holds the grain to be milled

Meanwhile others are a little trickier. For instance, you might assume that a ‘Mill bill’ is a statement that notes what a patron owes the Mill, but actually it is defined as ‘a chisel ended tool used for dressing or sharpening the grinding surface of a millstone.’  Here are a few of our favorite tricky terms:

Shroud: the rim of a water wheel which forms the sides of the bucket enclosures.

Shoe: a tapered trough that feeds grain into the eye of the runner stone for grinding and then between the two millstones.

Eye: the center hole in a millstone

Dresser: a person who works on the millstone furrows.  Also a name for the machine that bolts or sifts flour.

Read more Milling terms  HERE  and even more HERE!

April 23 – Adopt a Stone!

About a year ago, TTMAC launched its first Adopt a Stone campaign.  The campaign enables lovers of the Mill to show their support in a unique way – by ‘adopting’ one of the Mill’s many stones.  Adopters make a donation and in return they can choose a stone to commemorate a special event or dedicate to a loved one.


Take a look at the clip NBC4 aired about the Adopt a Stone Kickoff in 2015!

The kickoff event went splendidly and while stones have been selling all year long, there are still plenty of great ones to choose from.  So, if you missed our event last year, now is your chance to pick your perfect stone!

April 23

Adopt a Stone Day at Chapman – Beverley Mill
10AM – 5PM

Support the Mill by joining us at the historic site (17504 Beverley Mill Drive Broad Run, VA 20137) to adopt one (or more!) of the structure’s over 3,000 stones.

Stones on the Mill’s southern wall – the wall facing Interstate 66 – will be available for adoption and prices will range from just $25 to $1,000 or more depending on size and position. Donors will receive an adoption certificate noting the unique reference number of their stone and a map showing the position of that stone on the Mill.

The first $700 of adoptions will be used to help conserve the milling machinery that was pulled from the wreckage of the Mill following an arson in 1998.  All additional proceeds benefit the continued preservation and interpretation of the Chapman – Beverley Mill Historic Site.

We look forward to seeing you on April 23!

Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part Three)

The ‘Quarry Trench’ used during the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In this the third and final part of her article, Mrs. McDarment relates the story of a soldier who visited the Thoroughfare Gap battlefield years after the Civil War.

Some years after the war an old soldier came from California to visit the old battle ground. He said the hardest fighting he was in was in the Battle at Thoroughfare Gap, that his company in Ricket’s Division lost more men than in any other engagement; that with one volley from Longstreet’s men thirty of his men fell, killed and wounded. His own brother was killed at his side.
“The Confederates,” he said, “used a paper cartridge containing a round ball and three buck-shot. When Longstreet’s men rose and fired they were so near us that the round ball went through my brother’s forehead; one buck shot grazed one cheek, one the other and one pierced his chin. At first, I thought I would stay with my brother, but seeing that he had been instantly killed, and knowing that I would be captured, I retreated with the rest of the company. The next morning we sent a flag of truce and buried our dead.”
The breast-works thrown up by Longstreet’s men are still standing.
Some twelve or fourteen years after the war in walking over the crest of the mountain near the Gap, I saw something that looked like the handle of a cup sticking out of the ground. I pulled it up and found it was a silver cup. After cleaning it I found on it the following inscription, “Lieut. R. A. S. Freeman, Company A, Second Regiment, Volunteers.”
I found that the Surgeon of that Regiment was a Doctor Gregory of Alexandria Virginia. I wrote to him and he replied that he knew Lieutenant Freeman well, that he had come out of the war alive and was at his home at West Point , Georgia.
I wrote Lieutenant Freeman and received an interesting letter from him telling about the battle in Thoroughfare Gap. He was delighted to get his cup that had lain buried for so many years on the old battle field. He said he went into the fight with the cup fastened to his belt, and as there was a dent in the bottom he supposed a bullet had knocked it off. The cup may have intercepted the bullet and in that way saved his life.
Near the mill in The Gap there is a hole where stone had been quarried to build the mill. In this hole the Federals placed sharp-shooters who were picking off the Confederates above. When Longstreet made a rush through The Gap the men in this hole were killed and twenty-five dead soldiers were later taken out.

Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part Two)

Modern View of Avenel, The Plains, VA.

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In this the second part of her article, Mrs. McDarment relates William Beverley’s reminiscences of the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap.

“When I was a small boy I went with my mother, who was a near relation of the Lees, to visit at Arlington, the old Lee home.  I knew the General when I was a student at The Virginia Military Institute.  I was at Lexington when he died and saw him laid in his last resting place.

I can remember incidents connected with the Second Battle of Manassas, fought in August, 1862.

Just after McClellan’s defeat on the peninsular, he was ordered to withdraw from the peninsular and go to the aid of General Pope who was in command of the Federal forces before Washington.  Lee, hearing McClellan was ordered to reinforce Pope, gave orders to Stonewall Jackson to make a forced march and strike out Pope’s army before McClellan could reach him.

Jackson, leaving Culpeper, made a rapid march to Marshall – then called Salem – from there via The Plains through Thoroughfare Gap, and was at Manassas capturing General Pope’s provision train before Pope knew that Jackson was within a hundred miles of him.

When General Pope, who had headquarters near Warrenton, Virginia, was informed that Jackson was at Manassas, he at first discredited the information but a second courier informed him that Jackson was at Manassas and had captured his (Pope’s) provision train.

Pope gave orders at once to General Ricket, who commanded a Pennsylvania Division to occupy Thoroughfare Gap and cut off Lee, who was following Jackson from Culpeper on the same route, through Marshall and The Plains.

On the night before the Second Battle of Manassas General Lee with his army had reached the Western entrance to Thoroughfare Gap, his army going into camp along Broad Run Creek and near the present Broad Run station.

General Lee and his staff spent that night at my old home “Avenel.”

Being anxious about Jackson, General Lee walked the floor until midnight when a courier arrived with a dispatch from Jackson assuring the General that Jackson was in no immediate danger and could hold out until Lee’s army could reach him.  This courier was Lieutenant Tom Turner who was reared at Kinlock, the old Turner home near Avenel and who was a nephew of Admiral Turner of the United States Navy. Lieutenant Turner knew every inch of the ground and reached Avenel from Manassas by making detour from Jackson through Hopewell Gap to Avenel to General Lee, and was later awarded a beautiful sword.

Early the next morning General Lee mounted his grey horse, “Traveller” and with his staff rode toward Thoroughfare Gap, and gave orders to General Longstreet to drive back the Federal forces and to take the Gap.

General Longstreet sent a regiment over the mountain North of the Gap, one South of it, and a body of troops along the road leading through it.

Ricket’s Divsion had a battery on a ridge a quarter of a mile from the East side of the Gap and shelled both sides of the Gap continuously in front of his advance. General Ricket’s Pennsylvanians were hard fighters and brave men. After hard fighting General Ricket was forced to retreat and was driven back in the direction of Washington.  General Lee then pushed rapidly forward, joining Jackson and inflicting a disastrous defeat on Pope’s army.

Next week: A soldier visits the Thoroughfare Gap Battlefield after the war.