Duncan’s Mill



This landmark mill was blown away in the Rye Cove tornado of 1929. It was built by John Duncan, who came into Scott Co., VA around 1835, built the mill and his home on Cove Creek in the edge of Rye Cove. The mill was a log structure and ground both wheat and corn. John Duncan operated it until his wife’s death in 1857 when he turned it over to his son-in-law George W. Johnson who ran it until his death in 1866.

Johnson had the log mill torn down and employed Pinkney Carter and George Peters, both noted millwrights, to build a new mill. Carter designed a three story mill with improved equipment for cleaning wheat. The new mill was completed about 1860, just prior to the out break of the Civil War.

This mill flew the Confederate flag and ground flour for the Confederacy all during the Civil War. Grain was hauled in from wherever available, stored and guarded by Confederate soldiers.

The flour left the mill by wagon and ox-drawn wagons for such places as the Confederate encampment at Pound Gap in Wise County on the Virginia-Kentucky line.

The mill was also a recruiting station for the Confederacy. On Saturdays rallies were held and speeches given to encourage enlistment in the Confederate Army.

In 1917 the third story of the mill was torn off and converted again into a two story building and rolling mill machinery added for grinding wheat, which was still in use when the mill was destroyed by a cyclone on May 2, 1929.

Mr. J. F. Johnson of Fort Blackmore told the following story: “I have heard my father speak of John Duncan standing in the door of the mill on April 15, 1865 when a Negro slave that once belonged to Washington Salling rode up and said, ‘Good morning, Uncle John. How is your health? Uncle John have you heard any good news lately?’ He replied; ‘Nothing except that it has been reported General Lee surrendered last Friday morning.’ The Negro leaned way back in his saddle, clapped his hands and hollowed, ‘Bless God for that!’ John Duncan jumped out the door and threw a rock at the Negro man. He was chastised for this act and he replied, ‘No Negro can shout in front of me after my people have suffered so.’ He had three grandsons shot down in one day at Gettysburg.”

John Duncan was my 4th great grandfather. Millwright Charles Pickney Carter was my 2nd great grand uncle.


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