Growing up, my brother and I looked forward to visits during the summer to our Pennington grandparents' home in Peaceful Valley. Their farm provided us with many opportunities for interesting play, not the least of which was the creek that ran through the Pennington homestead. The cold, clear waters of the shallow creek was an invitation for us, along with our cousins, to splash and play. We spent many hours digging and damming the waters of the creek, all under the watchful eye of Mamaw Beck. It wasn't until recently that I became aware that "the creek" actually had a name.
English Branch is the formal name for our little creek, named after the English family who were early settlers of the area, Samuel Lewis English, and his wife Hannah Hall English, pictured below. This image of the couple was found in the files at the Itawamba County Historical Society.
This past Easter Sunday the remains of an old grist mill, established by Mr. English along the waters of the creek that bears his name, were discovered by a couple of persistent and determined Pennington descendants, Chip Mills and Steve Wardlaw. It was nearly thirty years ago, in a project overseen by Fessie Pennington, that a grist mill stone was pulled out of the creek not far from where the remains of the mill were found. It took a John Deere tractor and a lot of effort to get the stone out of the creek that summer day, but the location of the actual mill continued to remain a mystery until Easter Sunday.
Below: wooden boards and pegs used in the construction of the mill.
Above: Chip (left) and Steve examine the remains of the mill. It is believed that yellow poplar may have been used to construct the mill. The logs appear to have been hewn with an adze, a tool similar to a hoe, that was commonly used to square up logs. One of the logs had been bowled out, likely used to catch corn meal.
My father is pictured above in a photo taken with the grist mill stone that was found and removed from the creek about thirty years ago. The stone is three feet across and about fifteen inches thick. And very heavy. Today, the stone has been incorporated, courtesy of Chip Mills, into the waters of a natural spring that flows out of a nearby hillside.